Hammocks; they’re no big deal right? They’ve been around for over 1000 years and still pretty much look the same. I mean, you just string them up in the back yard and lounge around, right? Well, you know people, they always find crazy uses for everyday things that you wouldn’t expect (take duct tape for example!). Hammocks are no different. I’ve uncovered 5 unique ways people have used hammocks over the years that I think you will enjoy.
The inspiration for this compilation came to me when I opened my mailbox and amongst the usual junk was a newsletter from my Alma Mater, UNC Wilmington (Go Seahawks!), and inside was a story of an English professor that holds classes outside amongst the many beautiful and tree-covered areas of the campus.
Besides being a source of paper, shade, oxygen, and a place to carve you and your girlfriend’s name into they make great places to sling a hammock between. That’s exactly what goes on in this class, a little English literature and…a little lounging. Not too shabby. The English professor in question is Michelle Britt and here is her story.
1) Hammocks on Campus
HH: How did the idea to do classes outside come about?
“The class grew out of my love to be outdoors. I applied for a grant, was awarded it, and did a test run with 10 students 4 years ago. It grew in popularity Having a hammock is now on the syllabus as a requirement. One of the students suggested it a few semesters back. It was actually because of the colorful hammocks and the fact that we were in hammocks that causes the UNCW PR people to stop during one of our classes and inquire. It morphed into a video and photo shoot and article in which you saw.
HH: How it has worked out so far?
“I have been teaching for 10 years and I can honestly say that the best discussions I have ever had about Literature, particularly that from the cannon (stories and poems such as Mark Twain and the other ‘popular’ authors) take on new meaning and brilliance when discussed in a hammock. There is something about the freedom of movement and yet the snuggled in feel that a hammock offers and this transfers to critical thinking and openness of discussion.”
HH: Any issues with people falling out of hammocks or trees in mid lecture or anything of the sort?
“Students have yet to fall out, they do not usually put them too high. Our campus actually has a Hammock club and on any given day you will see students ‘swinging’ from various areas doing homework, hanging out, studying etc.”
HH: Has it increased attendance or enrollment?
“I would argue it has increased enrollment as I have 31 this semester (the most ever) and the class meets at 8am regardless of weather so the students are pretty intrepid and enthusiastic about it.”
To learn more about Professor Britt and her classes you can check out her page here.
2) Aerial Yoga Hammocks
I had a conversation with Becky Stella of AerialYogaOnline and she had some very eye-opening information about the many uses of aerial yoga hammocks.
“It was the circus world who took the hammock, attached the ends together and used a high-density fabric to perform acrobatics and dance high in the air. Since then, these weight-tested hammocks have been re-purposed for a number of surprising uses.
The first person to significantly re-purpose the acrobatics hammock for the yoga world was Michelle Dortignac (www.aerialyoga.com), using it as a prop to assist alignment in her yoga classes.
While the concept of using props for spinal decompression and inverting had been achieved with ropes tied to together at a wall (Iyengar yoga rope wall), using the aerial hammock opened up amazing possibilities for movement and how it could assist a traditional yoga practice. In aerial yoga, the hammock is used to expand the breath, awareness and physical space in the body for a greater sense of whole-ness and well-being.
In the past several years, midwives realized that instead of having birthing partners hold moms from under the arms for support while squatting to give birth, they could use an aerial yoga hammock. The hammock allows for a more natural tilt of the pelvis and to be able to squat for longer periods of time.
Not to mention, it makes a great place to rest between contractions. The University of Minnesota initially installed 6 hammock birthing slings to test them out and recently purchased more. While they are the only hospital in MN to have them, smaller birthing centers in MN had been using them for the past few years.
Because of the cocoon-like environment they create for the user, aerial yoga hammocks also have recently been used by occupational therapists working with children. This application and has been especially helpful for some therapists working with ADHD, Autism and other sensory processing disorders.
And because kids shouldn’t have all the fun, Jayne Dean, a Sensorimotor Psychotherapist in Hartford CT who uses talk-therapy, somatic psychology, and movement practices in her clinical practice has begun to incorporate the aerial hammock in to some of her sessions with adults. Forget the couch! Who wouldn’t want to confront life’s tough questions from a hammock?!
Ashiatsu is a type of massage therapy in which the therapist walks on the client’s back, using bars and other props for support to vary pressure and weight. However, a few Ashiatsu practitioners have realized they can incorporate and aerial hammock in to their practice so they can do the work with support from a short aerial hammock rather than constantly reaching above their head all day and gripping bars.
Looking for an aerial yoga hammock for any of these uses? Aerialyogaonline.com has supplied hammocks for all these purposes and can answer questions you have about alternative uses.
3) Italian Alp Hammock Festival
What is special about a hammock festival? They happen all the time. Well, how about one in the Italian Alps…suspended hundreds of feet in the air? Many hammock enthusiasts come out to attend the International Highline Meeting in Monte Piana in the Italian Alps. Multiple people hang suspended from a single line stretching across two peaks.
Some sit back and have a smoke while others play the ukulele. Even more daring are those that test their balancing skills by carefully walking across these lines, the kind of stuff usually reserved for high wire performances at a circus. As you can guess, this is where having well-made hammocks and hammock chairs really comes into play!
4) University Hammock Clubs
College life is great: lots of friends around, parties, ultimate frisbee. Well, now its gotten even better. A new-ish trend spreading through campus life is hammocking. Students will just get together, set up their hammocks and hang out…literally. Anytime there is enough interest in any one thing a club always has to come next-its just human nature to start clubs and why should hammocking be any different?
Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd and that has certainly been true for the UNH hammock club. Students students see the brightly colored hammocks hanging in trees on their way to class and start inquiring about it. Next thing you know your club is growing.
The hammock club at Calvin College started back in 2013 which also coincides with when hammocking started to really take off amongst those in their teens and early twenties. As you can see students at Calvin College find some creative places to hang out.
You can learn more about their hammock club here on their Facebook page.
Of course one of the biggest hammock clubs around is naturally founded in a place with a great hammock climate, Florida! The University of Florida in Gainsville has quite a hammock club and they are not shy about it either.
5) Napping…under your desk
Maybe you are in school or at least you remember the days of working at a desk tirelessly until you get well, tired? I mean real tired. Tired enough to just go to sleep where you sit. So what can you do in this situation? You can slump over your desk but you should expect to get a less-than-restful sleep for a few but what if there was another, yet convenient option?
Introducing the Schnap, its a nap in a snap and its fits under that same desk you would be slumped over (or between two desks) so you can actually get some decent sleep for once without having to go all the way home.
Like I said, its convenient because it rolls up in to a small size that’s easy to throw in a backpack. So how does it work? The inventor, a university student in Toronto, says it comes with two clamps that allow you to clamp each end to the desk edge but without marring the desk in any way.
Because you are situated under the desk, the desk itself acts as a natural shade to the overhead lights so you can get some shut-eye much easier. The bad news is that this product is still in its infancy and you can’t actually order one yet however with the power of crowd funding platforms like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo I imagine it won’t be too long until you see the Schnap campaign kick off. If you want to learn more or keep tabs on its progress you can visit the inventors page here.