There have been numerous studies in the last ten or so years that have researched the effects of individuals who practice yoga. Some studies were focused on mental influences, some on health benefits, some were more interested in physical benefits and some even wanted to prove cognitive improvements which resulted when practicing yoga.
It is beyond a doubt that a regular yoga practice can improve overall physical well-being, including an increase in flexibility, strength, balance and mobility. It is also a powerful tool to tame anxiety and depression by reducing stress and reconnecting our minds and our hearts with our bodies.
Interest in this field is constantly growing and researchers are looking into possible benefits for many issues that affect millions of people worldwide.
But what about aerial yoga? We will probably have to wait to see any clinical trials done specifically on aerial yoga, but as aerial yoga is simply Hatha yoga with a hammock, I believe we can hypothesize that in general all that applies for traditional yoga will also apply for aerial yoga. Having said that, I have noticed some common psychological changes in myself and my aerial yoga students over the years and have started wondering if there could be more to aerial yoga than we commonly think. After some research and after talking to professionals I have started to wonder if by practicing aerial yoga specifically we might be able to awaken the ‘free child’.
The concept of the free child in psychology, more specifically in transactional psychoanalysis, is that when you are born you are born as a free child. Free child means (represented by one circle) that we do not have boundaries, and everything is possible. But virtually from the very beginning of our lives, our caretakers give us boundaries by teaching us rules and imposing order on us. All of this gives birth to the so called ‘adapted child’ which starts growing in the circle of the free child, often taking up all of its space by the time we reach puberty.
At that point something interesting happens, there is a third ‘child’ ie the ‘rebel child’ that comes out. The purpose of this child is to obviously rebel against all the restrictions and rules that have been imposed upon the individual, but it is also to restore balance between freedom and adaptation. What is the outcome and what kind of adult will be created after this process is unique to the individual. But, we might say that the general tendency is to adapt to the rules. Adaptation is crucial as there are some truths that we cannot avoid. For instance, if you touch fire you get burned. But freedom is also as important. Freedom means that you can dream, create and envision realities outside of the given rules. Freedom means believing in change. Freedom means having the energy and faith to create your own reality.
I have witnessed this in people many times over the years and I believe that when you practice yoga with the help of the hammock you can reconnect and awaken that free child within you. It might be the effortlessness of hanging upside down, it might be the frequent change in perspective and facings that we experience in an aerial yoga class, it might even be the climbing on a colorful piece of fabric and all the different sensations that the hammock provides. But there is something that speaks directly to the deepest part of ourselves and tackles our free child. I have seen people find their creativity, playfulness, energy and overall joy. People change perspective on their lives and regain their spark.
Practicing aerial yoga is a way of fine tuning our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual body and as many researchers are suggesting and it is a way of improving our health. I like to believe that it is also a way of finding and maintaining our creative spark, the little spark of positive madness that we all need to become the best versions of ourselves and the best inhabitants of this planet.
About the Author
Mina Morrgan is an Unnata Aerial Yoga Course Leader, teaching Unnata® Aerial Yoga since 2014. She is the co-founder of No Stress center in Ljubljana, Slovenia. http://www.nostresscenter.com/