Hanging-upside-down yoga said to help the vertebrae

A growing number of health clubs around the world is offering exercise that allows people to stretch and strengthen their bodies while hanging in the air, often upside down. It’s called anti-gravity yoga.

At first glance, students hanging upside down on hammocks made of silk cloth hanging from the ceiling seems more like acrobatics than yoga.

“When I first saw people hanging upside down from hammocks and calling it yoga I thought they were crazy,” said student Marie Bice. “But it ended up being a lot of fun and just swinging it felt very playful.”

She said anti-gravity yoga is not all play. It’s also hard work, with benefits.

“I don’t have a lot of flexibility in my back and doing this work has really helped my back with that,” she said.

Instructor Heather Blair says hanging upside down helps the body in a way that regular yoga does not offer.

“You actually have spinal decompression so when you’re upside down your vertebrae actually open up so the space in between the vertebrae opens naturally and gently,” said Ms. Blair.

Dancer, choreographer, gymnast and creator of anti-gravity yoga, Christopher Harrison, says “I created it so even my mother can do it,” said Harrison.

Harrison first created this form of yoga for athletes, then modified it and started teaching it to the public in the United States in 2009. Since then, it has gained international attention. Several countries, including China, Indonesia, Russia and Brazil, now offer such classes.

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