SCARBOROUGH — They climbed into their silky blue and black hammocks, with the lights dimmed and soothing, New Age music playing in the background.
The hammocks, suspended in air from the ceiling, swung slowly back and forth.
But it wasn’t nap time Sunday afternoon.
Instead, it was an aerial yoga class, a relatively new twist on the popular spiritual, stretching, posing and deep-breathing discipline. Zone 3 Fitness in Scarborough just started up aerial yoga in December. In recent years it has gained in popularity nationwide, according to the club’s owner.
“If you always wanted to run away and join the circus, this is for you,” said Nicole Avery, owner of Zone 3 Fitness.
Instructor Kelly Corbin told the class of about a dozen to strike the next pose, which often involved different ways to manipulate the hammock. Sometimes the hammock was used like a swing on a playground; other times it resembled a cocoon.
The participants would “fly” through the air, hang upside down, twirl like a top or lie down with their feet up in the hammock.
“Let the energy and blood go back towards your heart and brain,” Corbin said at one point, when everyone’s feet were up.
Corbin, of South Portland, said that about two years ago, a friend introduced her to aerial yoga, and she was immediately hooked. With no classes in the Portland area on how to become an aerial yoga instructor, in 2012 she traveled to Delaware for eight days of training.
Now she’s teaching others the joys of flying yoga.
Linda Wade, 53, of South Portland said she tried it for the first time on Sunday, and while she was initially fearful, she enjoyed the class.
“I didn’t know whether my body was going to do what it was supposed to do,” said Wade, who was red-faced from the exertion. “I’ve had upper back problems, but I feel really relaxed and my back feels the best that it has in a long time.”
Corbin said while some might anticipate aerial yoga is more difficult than traditional yoga, in many ways it’s not. She said the hammock makes it easier to perform some of the poses, because there’s less resistance in the air than on the ground.
“People who can’t do inversions (upside down) can do inversions in aerial yoga,” Corbin said. “You get a much deeper, longer stretch.”
Joe Lawlor can be contacted at 791-6376 or at: