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Antigravity yoga and how it can help

April 9, 2013 2:31:42 PM PDT
It's early in the morning and we're hanging out upside down. It's called antigravity yoga.

As you hang, swing and flip around a hammock, instructors say it helps decompress and realign the spine.

"The hammock is totally supporting you in the inversion so it allows you to gain spinal extension," instructor Helene Lara said.

Joni Dropkin had back surgery in 2011 for a herniated disk and recently tried this class.

"I always did yoga and I loved standing on my head and I wasn't allowed to do that anymore. Being upside down and having my whole spine decompress was the best feeling," Dropkin said.

Upside down yoga classes are now offered across the country. We paid a visit to Asphalt Green in Manhattan.

"The decompression of the spine and joints creates space in that joint that used to be arthritic so that feels great," Sheryl Dluginsky, who had a hip replacement, said.

"When you're suspended, it almost acts like a traction of the back which can be therapeutic. However, if you have an area of the spine that inflamed, having traction at that segment can cause pain," Dr. Elizabeth Manejias of the Hospital for Special Surgery said.

Dr. Manejias is a physiatrist. She also warns against overextending or arching your back.

"Patients who have spinal stenosis or arthritis of small joints of the lower back - Those particular maneuvers can place increased stress on the joints," she said.

They say it's for all fitness levels, but I found it takes some getting used to. The head rush can be a problem. Don't take the class if you have high blood pressure or glaucoma. I know you've heard it before, but before you try this - you definitely need to check with your doctor!

More information online:

www.antigravityyoga.com/index.aspx

www.asphaltgreen.org

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