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RIYADH: Hovering a few meters above the ground, flying in zero gravity and defying the laws of gravity attracts women to practice the art of aerial yoga.

In an aerial yoga class, poses similar to yoga performed on the mat are performed, but instead of using your body weight to support you, you use a silk hammock suspended from the ceiling.

Sarah Farhoud, a Saudi aerial fitness freelancer and yoga instructor, was introduced to aerial yoga classes while in medical school. “I used to go for yoga and relax, and for a change I decided to take an air course, and I never looked back,” Farhoud told Arab News.

She loved the sport so much that she became a freelance instructor in 2016 and took aerial fitness classes at several studios in Riyadh.

The high demand came after 2017 when it was allowed to open licensed women’s gyms. I got the TOT (training for trainers) from Cirque Fitness USA. Today we have 508 certified aerial hammock, fabric and hoop instructors by the aerial arts in Saudi Arabia.

Roa Al-Sahhafaerial yoga instructor

“The girls are interested and they like the challenge. They trust the hammock and don’t mind being upside down. They are encouraged to take harder poses and they trust their bodies. I think the new generation is more brave and excited,” she said.

(A photo by Huda Bashatah)

The hammock is designed to help increase your flexibility and strength while allowing you to perform more difficult poses without putting extra pressure on your shoulders, spine or head.

“If your life is stressful, try aerial yoga to break your routine and rediscover the joy of being upside down, using the fabric to lift yourself from the other side or using it as a swing. I I’ve been to a lot of classes where everyone is laughing and giggling because they’re having a good time, and you can afford to breathe deeply and enjoy the moment,” Farhoud said.

She believes Vision 2030 will encourage more studios to open and make sport more inclusive and accessible to everyone by opening parks and community centers.

Aerial yoga teacher Roa Al-Sahhaf was in Paris when she was introduced to aerial yoga and decided to take it home.

“I tried air for the first time in Paris, and when I came back to Saudi Arabia, I couldn’t find it anywhere in Jeddah, so I decided to open one in Jeddah. It started as a home studio, then I started giving classes to other gyms. Eventually, in 2018, I opened my own studio named Aerial Arts in Saudi Arabia,” Al-Sahhaf told Arab News.

Al-Sahhaf noticed that there was a high demand for the sport, but there were not enough instructors.

“The high demand was after 2017 when it was allowed to open licensed women’s gyms. I got the TOT (training for trainers) from Cirque Fitness USA. Today we have 508 certified aerial hammock, silk and hoop instructors by the aerial arts in Saudi Arabia,” she said.

Al-Sahhaf said that many people enjoy trying new things and aerial yoga may be more popular than traditional yoga due to its greater difficulty and the enjoyment people get from it.

“Aerial is like a water sport. It is good for people who are not flexible or have roughness in the knees or fragility in the disc. It is good for people who cannot do any type of sport because the hammock takes a lot of weight off them,” Al-Sahhaf said.

“It’s like doing an exercise with another person, and at the end of the session we always give a meditation (exercise) so they can tangle around the hammock and meditate,” she said. . “It gives them a great feeling.”

Yoga is gaining popularity as a fitness trend in Saudi Arabia, and the Ministry of Commerce approved the teaching and practice of yoga as a sport in the Kingdom in November 2017.

“The facilities have improved a lot in the areas of licensing, support, sponsorship, and we are happy with that,” Al-Sahhaf said.