The Single Best Workout For Improving Your Mood

by Jessica Learish

Some things that yoga instructors say can seem pretty silly, if you're not in the midst of yogic bliss, from breathing through your kidneys to melting from your heart. But there is one workout that is so mentally cleansing, even the most committed cynic will find his or herself dutifully spiraling thighbones all the way to the side walls. There are real, medical explanations for why aerial yoga is the single best workout for improving your mood, and they all have to do with spending time upside down.

Of course, there are other schools of yoga that incorporate inversions, Iyengar, to be specific, but there's something very calming about dangling above the ground in a silk hammock, letting gravity reverse the negative toll that it has taken on your spine, joints, and even your circulatory system. And at the risk of sounding like a total yoga nut, it's almost as if you're reversing the relationship between your body and Earth and becoming more balanced because of it.

And much like other yoga classes, aerial yoga is a non-competitive environment that is all about embracing the poses that are available to you on a given day. What's more is that, more than any other workout I've ever done, aerial yoga is about being playful. You're pretty much swinging around in a shiny bed sheet and calling it exercise, so there's no denying that there's some childlike play involved.

Here are some of the reasons why aerial yoga is so great for your mood.

1. Being inverted cleanses your adrenal glands

When you're upside down, the fluids from your adrenal glands are drained, triggering a release of happy neurotransmitters and endorphins like oxytocin and dopamine.

2. Gravity increases blood flow to your brain

And blood brings oxygen, which means that your brain is literally flooded with the source of a lot of its power, helping you think more clearly.

3. Getting off the ground gives your joints and spine a break

Your body is right side up all the time, and gravity does its damage while keeping you firmly on the ground. Giving your spine and joints the opportunity to stretch as far as they can with no muscle tension will relieve a lot of those pesky aches and pains that we all grow too used to.

4. You'll sleep better

Just a few seconds of upside down time can decrease muscle tension in the body that contributes to insomnia.

5. Trusting the hammock teaches you to be vulnerable

The science checks out — surrendering your body weight to the aerial hammock is a great mental exercise that trains your mind to be vulnerable, which is the perfect launchpad for creativity.

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