Yoga Trapeze® vs. Aerial Yoga: What's the Difference?

Photo: BKS Iyengar hanging from a rope (inversion sling)

The legend, the myth, and the truth: where do these funky contraptions come from?

The exact origins of inversion sling yoga are unclear, but most prop-based practices can be traced back to late yoga master, BKS Iyengar. In his studio in Pune, India, Iyengar pioneered the use of dozens of yoga props that are now commonplace: blocks, straps, ropes, yoga chairs, and improvised yoga slings.

Iyengar himself appears in some of the earliest photos documenting inversion sling yoga practices. In the photos, he uses a thick rope sling and a stack of mats to practice passive backbends just like we do today on the Yoga Trapeze.

From Makeshift Sling to the Yoga Trapeze of Today

I first discovered inversion slings in 2006 while living in Thailand. I was frustrated by the design and durability of these earlier models, so I spent three years developing and eventually creating the studio-quality device now known as the Yoga Trapeze. Today, the Yoga Trapeze is the most popular inversion sling in the world used by over 200,000 students in 81 countries.

Modern manufacturing and materials have improved the quality and comfort of the device, but the fundamental concept remains the same. These simple slings allow you to practice new and different poses that can transform your practice, and in particular, your spinal health, core, and upper body strength.

PHOTO: Students hanging from the modern Yoga Trapeze

Yoga Trapeze vs. Aerial Yoga: Clearing Up the Confusion

The easiest way to remember the difference between the Yoga Trapeze and aerial yoga is to think about Zumba vs. ballet. Zumba is a huge, global fitness movement accessible to everyone (and mostly non-dancers). Ballet is elite, performance-based, and not part of the mainstream fitness community.

Yoga Trapeze explained...

  • Small sling + 3 handles on each side
  • Low to the ground (waist height)
  • Non-elastic, nylon material
  • Doubles as a suspension trainer (thanks to the handles)
  • Hugely popular by people all over the world
  • Practiced by all levels, especially beginners

Aerial Yoga explained...

  • Huge sling, no handles
  • Higher off the ground, often above the naval
  • Elastic, soft materials (usually synthetic, sometimes cotton)
  • An essential part of dance, performing arts, and circus
  • Never gained popularity for health and fitness
  • Practiced mostly by dancers, athletes, and performers

More Questions?

Q: The Yoga Trapeze is not a trapeze at all. Why the name?

A: It’s a brand name for YOGABODY® yoga inversion slings.

Q: Do all Yoga Trapeze students practice aerial?

A: No, less than 5% do.

Q: Do all Yoga Trapeze teachers teach aerial?

A: No, less than 3% do.

Q: They look so similar… why so little overlap?

A: The small details make a huge difference. Aerial Yoga is amazing for someone with a performing arts background. For your average student with little-to-no movement background, it can be intimidating.

Q: Which is better?

A: All movement is awesome. Do what you love.

Q: Commercially, which is more successful?

A: The Yoga Trapeze is used by over 200,000 students around the world. There is no other inversion device in yoga that has achieved even 10% of its impact. It completely changed the market.

Links & Resources:

How do you like to get inverted? Let us know in the comments!