I love aerial yoga. It has brought amazing people into my life, given me strength and flexibility, and has taught me so much about myself. So why is it that I haven’t practiced in months? Let me explain.
Since June of 2014 I have been practicing aerial yoga. As you can see from the photo above, aerial yoga is practiced from a silk hammock. The supportive hammock allows you to creatively explore your body’s strength and flexibility. Unlike traditional yoga, aerial yoga allows for more playfulness and more strength training. Aerial yoga relies heavily on upper arm strength and uses gravity’s pull to assist in your workout. Like a TRX class, you can use the hammock to increase the difficulty level in a standard push up or in a plank position. You can also opt to use the hammock more like a personal jungle gym: swinging from side to side, flipping in the air, or hanging upside down.
I have never been particularly scared of heights, but after pulling myself a good 6 feet up in the air, I was a little hesitant when my instructor told me to fall forward. Well, I followed one of my mantras: I felt the fear and I did it anyways.
Here is how I described the experience when I first started practicing:
Suspended six feet above the ground, I pull the weight of my body an inch higher, welcoming the familiar tingle in my biceps. Timidly, I release my hands, one at a time, and reverse my clasp. I look at my reflection in the mirror and take a final steadying breath. I push my weight forward and drop like a stone in the sea. My ankles catch the hammock, halting me 180˚ degrees from my position two seconds earlier. Feeling secure in the fabric, I press my fingers to the matted floors and spin myself, letting the fresh air fill my lungs as pride filled my heart.
Practicing aerial yoga taught me a lot about my body’s strength. After completing just my first class, I realized how amazingly powerful my body is, and the things I can accomplish with a little faith in myself. Throughout my practice, I continued to push myself. I learned new tricks and let my flexibility grow.
I also learned the importance of silliness. Aerial yoga wasn’t a competition, it wasn’t about mastering the trick in the first attempt. It is about being creative, about inventing a new move while attempting to master an old one. It is about bonding with new friends, encouraging fellow practicers to try a scary trick. It is about knowing that if you fall, then you should join in the laughing as well.
I haven’t practiced aerial yoga since moving to LA. Although there are no good excuse for this, here are mine:
- There isn’t a studio where I live. There are multiple of aerial yoga studios in the greater Los Angeles area, but none within a 30-minute radius of me. If I am being honest, the idea of spending an hour in the car going to and from a yoga studio just seems a little excessive to me.
- It is expensive. Because this is not a common practice of yoga, the studios are few and far between. When you find one, a class will run you about $15. Although I think it is totally worth the money because this is such an awesome and unique form of exercise, I currently don’t have an income and therefor need to be discretionary with my spending. So I tend to opt for a hike: it is close by (5 minute drive from my house!), lets me get some fresh air while bonding with nature, and is free.
Not being discouraged easily, I have put some thought into ways that I could get around these two obstacles. The foremost idea I have is to make a studio in my garage. It would cut the commute completely and would be relatively inexpensive. To do it, I would just need to fashion a support system to the garage rafters and purchase a hammock. A hammock will cost you about $120 for a high quality one, but cheaper options are also available. Seeing that a 10-class pass will cost upwards of $100, purchasing your own hammock will pay itself off very quickly.
So, what’s the hold up, why not do it, Tess? Well, my garage really isn’t the perfect place for an aerial yoga studio. Filled with storage boxes, I wouldn’t have the freedom to do flips and tricks like I would hope. I also won’t live with my parents forever, so is it worth the time and effort to renovate the garage into a studio just for me to move out in a few months?
I decided to hold off on my aerial yoga practice. That was until my passion for it was renewed.
I recently went and saw the newest Cirque du Soleil show ‘Kurios’ at the Los Angeles Dodger’s Stadium. This was my third time seeing a Cirque du Soleil show and ‘Kurios’ was by far my favorite. If you have the chance, go see it (and check LivingSocial first for discounted tickets!). It is like seeing a carnival in Alice’s real-life Wonderland, with a Steampunk edge. The show is filled with contortionists, acrobats, and my personal favorite, aerial artists. The performers would fly from one side of the stage to the other, hanging only from the silks.
Seeing ‘Kurios’ really inspired me to put excuses aside and get back into aerial yoga. I am going to bite the bullet and purchase a round of classes at a semi-nearby studio. Who cares if it is a little bit of a drive, it isn’t like I have any other obligation like work or school! Maybe attending some classes will give me a renewed spark of love for aerial yoga, and with that spark the creativity to make the in-house yoga studio come together. Inspiration can come from the most surprising places, only if you think to act on it. Thank you, Cirque du Soleil for putting on a great show.
Will you give aerial yoga a try? Let me know below!