Come Fly With Me: Aerial Yoga FTW

I consider myself to be a type of, exercise connoisseur if you will. I love to work out and experiment with different forms of exercise activity.   However there has always been one form that I have not yet been able to conquer, my Achilles heel of exercise…Yoga.

For some strange reason I have always found it painfully difficult to hold the poses and I never have the strength or flexibility to do them correctly. No matter how hard I try, the only positions I can skillfully master are the restorative poses. Yes, the one where you lie in an almost fetal position and focus on your breathing. That is skill right there.

In an attempt to increase my flexibility I tried Bikram yoga. Much to my surprise I found working out in a sauna for 90 minutes didn’t make it any easier. Sure I felt more flexible, but I also spent the majority of the class focusing on not fainting rather than holding my poses correctly. I would leave classes feeling like a drowned rat and wishing I had not wasted 20 dollars on torture.

So when one of my friends dragged me along to aerial yoga I was very apprehensive indeed. From my past experiences, my battle with this activity was a losing one. However, within 5 minutes I was hanging upside down, using muscles I didn’t know I had and feeling more relaxed than I had in a long time.

Maybe this was the solution to my yoga complex.

Like Bikram yoga and yogalates, aerial yoga is a hybrid of traditional yoga techniques. The best part is instead of working out on a mat, aerial yoga involves performing a series of yoga moves in a hammock, which is supported from the ceiling and works as a trapeze.

The hammock makes it an incredibly fun way to get fit and the acrobatic elements make it much more playful than traditional yoga. If you ever dreamed of running away with the circus as a child, aerial yoga is for you.

Throughout the 90 minute class we went through a mix of standing and seated poses, inversions and meditations. Sure I was a bit scared at first but it wasn’t long until I felt comfortable doing the stretches and poses. Nothing was beyond what a beginner should be able to do and the instructor was kind enough to be very patient with us all.

What’s more is that I was actually able to put my racing mind to rest for the duration of the class. Although this may seem like an easy task, this was a true achievement for me. No matter how hard I try to “relaxxxx and clear the mind” during yoga classes, my mind always continues to race from one thought to another.

For me, meditation does not exist, so I am either awake or asleep.  I think it was the combo of movement from the hammock and the music playing softly in the background that lead me to be able to completely relax my mind and forget about the days worries and stresses…ahh peace at last.

It also seems aerial yoga is not just for yoga dropouts like myself. Along with being a great way to distress and tighten your tummy muscles, there are some serious health benefits associated with aerial yoga. In fact, aerial yoga is a technique revolutionary in relieving compressed joints and aligning the body from head to toe.

Isabel Rayner, a regular at Flight Skool, an aerial yoga studio in West End, has struggled with exercising ever since she developed shin fractures 3 years ago. However the use of the hammock in aerial yoga means there is less pressure placed on her joints and bones, making it a good exercise option for those like Isabel in rehabilitation. “Since starting in January I feel aerial yoga has helped to relieve much of the pain,” she said.

The combined elements of dance, pilates and traditional yoga helps make aerial yoga interesting for beginners and pros alike. Even if you have never taken yoga classes before, you will be amazed at how much you can do. I know I was.

Now I can safely say that I have overcome my predicament with Yoga…Victoria – 1, Yoga – 0.

Written By – Victoria Harrison

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