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If you’re reading this it’s probably because you’re interested in trying aerial yoga! Aerial yoga is a special type of yoga that uses silks hung from the ceiling to allow you to stretch more deeply! Because of the way these classes are set up, they can be extra intimidating! Flashy poses, and flying yogis, it’s enough to keep a newbie away.
Plus, if you’re a bigger person, you start to wonder whether those thin silk will even hold your weight!
So, is there a weight limit for aerial yoga?
Yes, there are weight limits for aerial yoga. These depend on what kind of suspension hook and silks are being used by the yoga studio. 250lbs is the standard “weight limit.” But, usually, the weight limit is much higher. Talk with an instructor beforehand to figure out how fat-friendly your local studio is.
Let’s talk about some of the gear used in aerial yoga, and some techniques to make your experience way more enjoyable!
What Impacts The Weight Capacity For Aerial Yoga?
The two biggest things that impact how much weight a silk can bear are the silk and the suspension hooks! If you’re not getting a clear vision of what these things are, watch this quick video that shows how to hang an aerial silk!
The type of suspension hooks used makes a huge difference in the weight limit at aerial yoga!
Suspension hooks come in all shapes and sizes. The hooks used for aerial yoga will be very large, and they usually will be able to rotate or swing freely. These hooks can hold anywhere from 300lbs – 800lbs each, depending on the type!
It goes without saying that these hooks should always be attached to a sturdy supporting beam, and won’t hold in drywall.
Even if you’re not planning on putting aerial silks up yourself, it’s important to be aware of the hooks. When you call a studio to ask about weight limits, you can also quiz them about their aerial hooks.
Good instructors should know how much weight their setups can hold! If you are able to get this information from your future yoga teacher, it’s a good sign.
Silk or Hammock
Aerial silks and hammocks can both be used in aerial yoga!
Aerial silks are made from a super-strong anti-tear material. These silks can often hold anywhere between 3,000lbs and 5,000lbs. Aerial silks are usually made to support the weight of two people who are very high above the ground!
Aerial hammocks are very similar to aerial silks, but they are usually a little bit shorter than full silks, and are made to stay in a true hammock position! because of this, aerial hammocks also have a similar weight rating as the full silks do.
At this point, we’ve mentioned hooks that will hold 800lbs and silks that can hold up to 3,000lbs. So, why do we keep getting that dang 250lb limit everywhere?
How Is The Weight Limit Usually Calculated?
The weight limit for aerial yoga isn’t just based on the strength of the gear being used, it also has to do with gravity!
Basically, the pressure of the force exerted by your movement during class can make your weight feel anywhere from 5 – 10x heavier! Imagine how much harder it is to hit a baseball that’s moving as opposed to a stationary teeball! Because the baseball has force behind it, the effect of its weight is multiplied.
The more aggressively you move in class, the more pressure you will put on the silks. But again, quality silks and hooks are strong, and a good instructor can tell you what will and won’t work for your body.
So, Can Plus-Size People Do Aerial Yoga?
I can confidently tell you that big people can enjoy aerial yoga! If you want instant proof, just look at this woman’s Youtube channel, it’s literally titled, “Fat Girl Aerial Yoga.”
However, there are a few things to be aware of as a fat person trying aerial yoga for the first time!
The Pressure From The Silks Can Be Uncomfortable
Part of the draw of aerial yoga is that you are able to take pressure off of bones that normally carry most of your body weight. Aerial yoga relieves tension, joint pressure, and spinal compression! But, the catch is that all your weight has to go somewhere else!
The weight that is no longer on your joints goes to whatever part of your body is touching the silks.
That means that if your pose focused on hanging from the hips, you might feel a lot of pressure in your hips, maybe even pain!
Rest assured though, this is a normal part of the process, whether you’re fat or not. First-timers will often feel aching or burning hands, shape pain from the pressure of the hammock, and might even get bruises! None of these things will cause you injury or harm in the long run, and most people become way less sensitive after just c couple of classes.
Using Padding During Class
You can reduce the pain caused by pressure in a class by using padding on your silk or your hammock! Padding a nice piece of foam or even a thick blanket, and can totally erase that pinching sensation you might start to feel,
You Use A Lot Of Grip Strength
When I said aching hands earlier, this is what I was talking about!
Some of the poses I have seen in aerial yoga require you to hold almost all of your body weight with your hands!
Now, of course, the yoga instructor will usually offer modifications of some sort. But, if you’re anything like me, you always want to try for the next level!
If you are a big and strong person, you might have no problem using your grip strength to hold up your body! As a matter of fact, many plus-size people enjoy pole dance as a way to work out, and if anything that requires even more grip strength!
However, if you are big and well, a little bit on the soft side like me, your grip strength might be a barrier for you during class!
You can use supportive wraps for your wrists if you feel like you just need a little extra love. And remember, you don’t need to be the best one in the yoga studio! Actually, you should never compare yourself to anyone else in a yoga class as yoga is a very individualistic journey that you make with your body!
You Might Get Silk Burn
Unfortunately “silk burns” are a thing. And even more unfortunately, they are something you might have to get used to if you take aerial yoga up as a hobby.
Silk burn comes from your skin rubbing quickly against the silk. For a big person, this issue might be even worse. Because we have more skin and more surface area, we have an increased odds of getting burnt. Combine that with more pressure overall during class, and you might even get a burn from your first pose!
If you do get a silk burn, you can care for it like any other wound! But, if your wound isn’t healing or looks worse after a week or so, you will need to have a medical professional take a look!
How Can You Get Prepared For An Aerial Yoga Class?
If you feel ready to try your first aerial yoga class, here are some fat-friendly tips for you!
Wear The Right Clothing
The right clothing is essentially in aerial yoga. No matter your weight, your best option is going to be a nice pair of leggings and either a tank top or a short-sleeve shirt.
The leggings will protect your legs from being rubbed and burnt while a short sleeve shirt will give you nice mobility and grip strength. Not sure about wearing leggings as a plus-size human, check out my top 7 stretchy waist pants recommendations for women.
Eat, But Not Right Before Class
Your body and every body needs fuel to perform! I don’t care if you are trying to eat less, you need to eat before working out!
But, here’s the catch, don’t eat too close to yoga time!
All that pressure we were discussing will be on your tummy at some point. If your stomach is full of food, that pressure could make you feel nauseous!
So please, don’t be afraid to eat but do it with enough time to digest before your aerial yoga class.
Get There Early For Your First Time
Alright, you caught me, this tip isn’t fat-specific.
I find that sometimes when I try new things, I start to get a little anxious before. One of the things that can make my anxiety feel even worse is if I am running late. To avoid making your first class even harder, do yourself a favor and show up early.
If you’re the first one there, even better! You can talk to the instructor, tell them any concerns you have, and pick out the best spot in the house!
Who Should Not Do Aerial Yoga?
There are some people who should take extreme caution with aerial yoga!
If you have very high or low blood pressure, arthritis, or heart disease, aerial yoga might not be best for you!
Inversions can put a lot of extra stress on your circulatory system, making those existing problems even worse. The extra pressure from hanging can set off arthritis if you’re not careful. Pregnant women should also proceed with extreme caution!
Most studios will provide a number around 250lbs as a weight limit for aerial yoga. Luckily, this number is usually arbitrary and we plus-size people can also enjoy the benefits of this flying yoga practice!
In fact, most weight limits can flexible even for extreme sports like bungee jumping! But if you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, you should also check out hula hooping which can be another great option for bigger folks.
Make sure you communicate with the studio in advance, prepare yourself, and most importantly, have fun!