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What is Aerial Yoga Therapeutics?

What is Aerial Yoga Therapeutics?

Published March 29th, 2024 By Jo Stewart

Who is it for, who created this training, my experiences and how you can learn more...

Aerial Yoga Therapeutics combines wisdom from traditional yoga practice with pilates, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, expressive therapy to create a holistic modality for the mind and body.

The aerial hammock can be used as sensory tool to help with emotional regulation, trauma, chronic pain and neurodiversity and facilitating joy and flow state experiences. It can be real bridge between mental and physical health, especially since we can work with our senses in such a unique way.

I base a lot of what I teach at Garden of Yoga on Renae Stevens’s foundations as she is my main aerial yoga teacher and one of Australia’s original instructors!

Renae has assembled a team of innovative and world leading experts to bring a diverse range of perspectives to this training - and i’ll be featuring Audrey Ng and Kristin Mathiassen who I share about below in my book.

I was super excited to attend Aerial Yoga Therapeutics training online in 2020. I paid for this training myself, but we are now affiliate partners and aim to help build a community of instructors doing this work.

Use our code GARDENOFYOGA to get a free online mentoring session valued at $200 (and offered in multiple languages!). Just write the coupon code: GARDENOFYOGA at checkout

Head to the Aerial Yoga Teacher Training Website to learn more!

group AYT

Deepen your knowlege of Anatomy

The course goes into a lot of detail on anatomy - although with a functional focus (you won’t have to memorise any origins or insertion points). And since there were several physiotherapist guest lecturers you also got different points of view to help with understanding. I really appreciated the deep dive into working with chronic pain - and this is also something I’ve really been able to apply with my own clients.

I actually totally changed the way I taught a lot of Pilates movements based on the research and information shared (which had changed a lot since my teacher training). Renae held space and support for those conversations too. While she is there to educate, the focus is more on learning to teach ‘your way’ rather than ‘her way’.

Hearing from other people working in this field also really helped bring in those different perspectives. I really appreciated learning from Audrey Ng, who is a senior physiotherapist, rehabilitation focused Pilates instructor, Antigravity Aerial Yoga teacher and director of Performance Pilates Perth. She uses the aerial hammock in her studio and has devised a system of grading the exercises based on stability challenge. Audrey and her Physio team assisted in the curriculum design of level 1. Audrey is a contributor to my upcoming book and I really appreciated the chance to learn directly from her as part of this training.

Learn more about Neurodiversity

My favourite unit was on working with children (and teaching kids is NOT my specialty) because this is where we covered neurodiversity and sensory processing. I loved learning from Occupational Therapist Mia Chiang and how she uses the aerial hammock with her clients. I use so much of what I’ve learned about the vestibular system in all of my group adult classes and also for my own self regualation.

The latest round of training will include more material on Neurodiversity as Kristin Mathiassen joins the teaching team. Kristin specialises in aerial yoga for Autism and Down Syndrome, and will be focusing on intellectual disabilities in this upcoming training. You can read more about Kristin, including how she has adapted aerial yoga for Cerbral Palsy, and hearing issues in my Making Aerial Yoga More Accessible Article.

therapeutics big

My experiences:

One thing I really appreciated about this training was how evidence based everything was - we hear a lot of health claims about aerial yoga but Renae has actually taken the time to compile published and peer reviewed research, while also explaining some of the language used so it’s a bit easier to understand if you don’t come from a science background. She has also completed her own research (as part of her Masters in Mental health) on whether aerial yoga can be helpful tool (emotionally and physically) for young people from a refugee background who have experienced childhood trauma.

I did have some struggles along the way - mainly the long zoom days and feeling like I wanted more chance to interactive and discuss with the other participants. I did the training while Melbourne was in and out of COVID lockdowns, some people joined live from a Brisbane studio and others were online. Renae totally took this feedback on board and has totally redesigned the training. It is now offered virtually with a comprehensive mentor program which benefits those who learn solo, or who have to time their study around other life commitments and a separate in-person option for those who love group dynamics, however both options are supported by online self paced theory.

I also didn’t really connect with a lot of the material shared in the aerial dance unit - it’s just not the style of movement that we teach here at Garden of Yoga, but I have used a lot of the moves shared in the warm up drills, and there was no pressure to practice any postures you don’t feel ready for (super important when you are practicing online without a live teacher there for support). I know that a lot of teachers and students crave the challenge of more ‘advanced’ movements and lots of people of my cohort loved it - just not my cup of tea.

To my knowlege this is the only training of this kind, and since it starts with an introductory unit is it accessible to people of all levels of experience and would integrate into other qualifications, and provide a foundation for working alongside other health professionals.

‘The aerial hammock is a sensory medium that enhances neural integration and offers the restorative benefits of zero-compression inversions, incorporating joint and viscera decompression while developing 3-dimensional spatial awareness. It holds a unique ability to induce the relaxation response by releasing respiratory constriction and providing somatic experiences of being supported, rocked and ‘cradled’ that rebuild a sense of trust in one’s body, relationship and environment. The therapeutic benefits of this body-orientated intervention are quickly being adapted into innovative clinical exercise based physiotherapy, rehabilitation practices and mental health settings to address a range of conditions and enhance recovery, empowerment and well-being’ Renae Stevens.

renae portrait

About Renae Stevens:

Renae was involved with launching Antigravity in Australia and New Zealand in 2010 and has been training instructors since then. Her work has evolved into a multimodal therapeutic approach combining the creative and movement arts therapies, which she is passionate about sharing as a practitoner and educator.

Renae also holds a master’s degree in Mental Health and is a registered Art Therapist experienced in trauma recovery. She is recognized by Yoga Australia as a Senior Yoga Teacher with 20 years of teaching experience. Her foundational years of study involved completing a full-time 3-year training specialized in Yoga Therapy at the Yoga Arts Academy in Melbourne, Circus Arts training in Beijing and Physiotherapy foundation studies in anatomy and physiology at the University of Queensland.

Renae has continued to diversify her skills in the movement healing arts over the last decade and is also certified as an AntiGravity Master Instructor trainer, Polestar Pilates Studio Rehab instructor and Franklin Method Movement Educator.

Listen to our Podcast conversation with Renae here

About the 200hr training:

This course will provides an informed theoretical understanding of the mental and physical health benefits of the Aerial Hammock, the neurobiology of trauma and pain, and the role of creativity and flow-state experiences in healing.

It can be completed entirely online, or this is also the option to attend in person intensives, and continue with mentoring after the training. You will need access to an aerial yoga hammock for the practical sections, which can be done at your own time or live. Many of the past participants are parents or carers and were able to work through it at their own pace.

You get immediate access to the online theory modules and exercise video libraries for each course from the day you enrol. Each course intake is then guided through an intensive virtual weekly Q&A and mentor program to cover all aspects of practical application in bite-size digestible pieces and support you through your journey to becoming an Aerial Yoga Instructor.

This format has evolved since I attended the course - I actually found the long zoom days the most challenging part and I love that Renae is now sharing this information in this more flexible style, with more scope for group interaction as I think it will really help with integrating the information shared - as well as the chance to practice together in person at the teachers summits (on the Gold Coast Hinterland!).

The course runs as progressive units of:

Aerial Essentials Teacher Training 50hrs

Advanced Aerial Teacher Training 50hrs

Aerial Therapeutics 100hr

Go to the Aerial Yoga Teacher Training Website for more information and the ‘discover more’ link for each training for start dates and pricing. The first unit - Aerial Essentials Teacher Training starts in June 2024!

Use our code GARDENOFYOGA to get a free online mentoring session valued at $200 (and offered in multiple languages!). Just write the coupon code: GARDENOFYOGA at checkout

Images courtesy of Renae Stevens

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