When you think of stretching out in a hammock, yoga probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But yogis have revolutionized the use of this strip of fabric and are using it to transform their practice.

Chris Harrison, a choreographer and aerial designer, created the Antigravity Fitness program.  The practice allows people to experience exercises with “zero compression inversions,’’ which means that practitioners can decompress their spine in addition to lengthening the core without putting pressure on their joints.

Samantha Danielle, a native from Kelowna, British Columbia, is the new owner of the first antigravity yoga studio in Seattle called Levitas Studio based in Fremont (473 N. 36th St).

This is how it works: The fabric “cocoon” is about 9 feet long and it can hold about 2,000 pounds. The postures vary: from stretches within the “cocoon” to improving your circulation while hanging upside down to spinal decompression postures and meditation. The class is energizing, yet calm. This type of yoga can give a very different vibe – an unexplored dimension added to your practice.

During the practice the instructor, who has their own playlist, leads the class and demonstrates the postures while practicing besides you.

Danielle herself found the practice in her search to heal her pain. Growing up she always had a back pain and her mission was to find a practice that would allow her to heal without putting any extra pressure on her joints. She first learned about the antigravity yoga practice from a friend. Soon after she found a studio that specialized in the practice in Portland, Ore. She traveled there to discover the practice and its healing power.

“I started to get an itch to do it again,” she said, remembering her first experience .

Shortly after she gained her certification as an antigravity yoga instructor, which she obtained in Vancouver, and decided to open her studio in Seattle where she has been living for the past seven years.

This practice allows you to accomplish something unusual. “It is a confidence builder,” Danielle said.

You not only concur a fear, but you also gain benefits from all of the other perks of the practice. In addition, you get to not “only think,” but also ‘’get outside your comfort zone,’’ by hanging upside down and doing stuff you never thought you could do.

“Everyone should give it a chance, at least once, and it shouldn’t be seen as an intimidating type of yoga – it is much easier than you think,” she said.

Danielle wanted to transform her studio space to make it feel like a Costa Rican yoga retreat, “a space, where you feel you are away from the city,” she said. “I wanted to mimic the environment as much as I could.”

The wood floors and the forest photograph on the back wall are all design elements that she hopes will make you feel as if you are some place else during your practice. There are still a few design details to be adjusted, but it is all in progress.

People with these conditions should avoid the antigravity practice:

*Pregnancy *Glaucoma *Recent surgery (esp. shoulder, eyes, back, hips, hands or wrist) *Heart disease *Very high or low blood pressure *Easy onset vertigo *Osteoporosis / bone weakness *Recent head injury *Cerebral Sclerosis *Propensity for Fainting *Carpal tunnel syndrome *Severe arthritis *Sinusitis or head cold *Hiatal hernia *Disc herniation or acute discogenic diseases *Recent stroke *Artificial joints *Radiculitis (inflammation of nerve root in spine) *Severe muscle spasms *Botox (within 6 hours)


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Who is Samantha outside the yoga studio?
I like to hang out, be happy and spend time with family and friends

How often do you practice/teach?
six days a week. I practice with the students

What is your favorite yoga-clothing brand?
Prana

Who has impacted your yoga practice the most?
The students. I enjoy seeing them doing things that they thought they would never be able to do

What is your approach to teaching yoga?
I like to read the students as we go through the practice and make sure they get what they want outside of the practice

What is the best yoga advice you have ever received?
Focus on yourself and listen to your resistance

If you could practice with someone (dead or alive) who would that be?
Pink

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