When you see acrobats gracefully float on fabric, you are watching a performance incorporating aerial silks. This art form is also called aerial ribbons or tissues and aerial contortion. Using aerial silks is not confined to mesmerizing circus acts anymore; dance studios and fitness centers teach silks training as an increasingly popular way to work out. This challenging, innovative regimen promotes physical and mental health in many ways. Practicing with aerial silks can increase focus, strengthen muscles, improve circulation, and much more.
History of Aerial Silks
Aerial silks performances are one of the most popular physical disciplines incorporating the use of hanging apparatuses — aerial arts. The practice may have developed in a French circus school around 1959, where a student presented an act using a long ribbon of fabric. From that time until 1998, many artists experimented with fabric in their performances. In the 1990s, a group of French and British acrobats inspired by this art form helped spread it around the world. Many historians credit Andre Simard and Cirque du Soleil with the invention of aerial silks in the 1980s. At the least, this world-renowned group certainly made the art form popular.
How are Aerial Silks Used as Exercise?
Fitness using aerial silks entails climbing two long pieces of fabric secured from a high ceiling and practicing a variety of postures and movements while suspended in air. Aerial yoga and suspension training are recent trends based on hanging fabric performance art. Additional apparatuses include:
- aerial hoops or lyras,
- aerial straps, and
- corde lisse, a fabric covered rope.
Regular physical exercise is essential to good health. Many active people limit themselves to one or two types of exercise, but Harvard Medical School suggests we need to incorporate stretching, strengthening, aerobics, and balance routines in our workouts. Aerial silks provide a total body workout that covers all these important types of exercise.
Mental Health Benefits
Twenty percent of Americans have a mental, emotional, or behavioral disorder. A large study published in 2018 discovered people who exercise regularly, regardless of age or socioeconomic background, report fewer mental health issues than those who do not exercise. Aerial silks can help improve mood by increasing blood flow and oxygen to the brain through movement and deep breathing. The act of learning new, unconventional movements and positions can help you overcome fears and increase self-confidence. Psychological research at the University of Texas at Dallas suggests doing unfamiliar, mentally challenging things can provide broad mental and social stimulation. Practitioners often report an increased sense of empowerment, strength, bravery, and confidence after a few aerial silks classes.
Aerial arts provide an anaerobic workout in which you use your own body weight and work with and against gravity. This helps to promote agility and tone core and postural alignment muscles. Aerial exercise is effective cross-training that helps build strength and flexibility, which can prove beneficial in other areas of activity. Aerial silk workouts stretch the fascia, the soft, thin layer of tissue that surrounds muscles. This myofascial release helps relax contracted muscles and stimulate the stretch-relax of the muscle and the overlying fascia.
Spinal research explains that fluid travels to different parts of our spinal discs in response to alternating between flexed and extended postures. This release of fluid helps bring nutrients to the discs and alleviate pressure on them and nerves. Being suspended on fabric during aerial exercises gently stretches and elongates your spine, which can help relieve lower back pain.
Enhanced Lymphatic Drainage
The lymphatic system makes lymph fluid, which carries nutrients to and cellular waste away from cells. A blocked or clogged lymphatic system may result in weakened immunity, fatigue, weight gain, back pain, or depression. Aerial silk exercises can help clear blockages and facilitate healthy drainage of lymph fluid throughout the body.
Aerial silk practitioners often experience deep relaxation in their body and mind after completing a class. Floating in the air tends to impart a feeling of freedom that helps you release worries. The intensity of the workout necessitates total focus, which forces you to put troubles aside. Aerial silks can boost creativity and self-esteem, both of which are potent stress relievers.
Concentration skills are necessary to carry out our daily duties successfully. Focus requires cultivation through consistent training. Practicing aerial arts can help you learn to focus more intently as you discover how to control your body’s movements while suspended in the air. Performing basic and more advanced moves calls for increased concentration because you cannot allow your mind to wander during the activity.
People with shoulder injuries should not attempt aerial silks exercise. Individuals who are very overweight or have serious health issues should consult a physician before attempting this activity. Working out with aerial silks carries a risk of dizziness, bruising, shoulder injury, and fabric burn. Seek the advice and supervision of an experienced instructor before undertaking this activity.