“And now, if we measured you, you’d be a little bit taller,” Define founder/hammock class instructor Henry Richardson says as we all crunch up from hanging upside down from the ceiling of Define Living. (Click here to read more about the studio!)
That’s pretty freaking cool. Yoga is all about stretching and lengthening, but we were only upside down for a couple minutes. I find that super interesting, as I swing back and forth in my hammock, but maybe it’s just the headrush.
Swinging in a hammock, y’all. Henry and Define are all about the child-like activity turned exercise for adults, aren’t they? Ahem, anyone for a bounce class on trampolines?
Here’s what the hammock class is actually like:
We started sitting in the hammock like a swing, but we pretty immediately flipped over. Henry made anyone new wait for him to supervise (experts/returning students flipped all around me).
Here’s how you flip:
- Gather hammock material at your lower back (mine kind of hugged my hip bone, but another time it was a little lower — not sure one was more or less comfortable than the other).
- Lean back (trust fall like) holding handles while you spread your legs wide. The wide legs are super important.
- Wrap your legs around the hammock fabric twice, once at the knees and once at the ankles.
- Let go of the handles and hang. You can brush your fingertips (‘like you’re painting the floor with them”)
We stayed there for a while, definitely got a head rush, but you can come out of it at any time. Henry kept reintroducing himself and letting everyone know he’ll be there in a sec to help if you need to call for him.
While upside down, we stretched our right and left sides. Then, we reached as far forward as we could, then let go and swung for a bit with our arms folded.
I was very surprised how long we were upside down. I guess I always equated upside down as bad for you — blood rushing to your head, that’s bad no? Guess not. My head did feel weird while upside down (not really bad, just weird) and my back felt great, but after a while my lower body felt some strain, mostly because it isn’t used to being stretched in that position for so long much less holding my body weight like that.
After our first flip and subsequent pause to let the blood in our heads settle, we came down to the floor and leaned back with the hammock at our backs and under our arms. Henry called it our “homebase.” We stretched to the right and left, then it was time to stretch our hammys.
We popped our first leg up, stretching our hamstring and hip. This was pretty intense to me but in a good way. You leaned forward, sat back, pointed and flexed your feet. After thoroughly stretching those areas, we went back upside down.
I was I feeling pretty confident with my ability to get into position, but this second time was much more challenging. We unhooked our legs one at a time and let them hang. The pros grabbed their heels. I tried but ended up going back to the simple upside down hold with my legs hooked, while everyone else went on. Then, my legs screaming, I ended up sitting up for a sec and just swinging. When Henry instructed us to do little circles by pulling the ground beneath us, I rejoined the group. I like swinging in circles upside down — said both kid and adult Natalie.
After our last upside down, we swang for a minute, probably my favorite part. We went back down to homebase for a second, then out of the hammock completely.
We used a ball to roll out our backs and necks, then also used it in a series of bridge poses. When it was time for Savasana, we has an option to hook our feet in the hammock. A few peaceful minutes later, I had survived my first hammock class!
Some things to know before you go:
- You’re upside down for a WHILE. Not the whole class, but I would guess a good 15 minutes, spread out during the hour class.
- Do not, for the love of god, go to this class hungover. Thank me later.
- Also, don’t go after a big meal.
- Both Anastasia and I felt a little queasy after the class. Granted, we went from class to showering to hopping in a 25-minute car ride, so if you have some downtime after the class, you should be fine.
- No yoga mat required, just bring yourself and some socks if you’d like. Also, there is literally no need for water because a. you’re in the hammock for so long, it’s tough to get out and in for water, and b. you’re not working up a sweat.
- You can be obnoxious and take pictures of yourself doing a sweet hang, but please wait until after class.