I'm sure you know someone obsessed with yoga. They love hot yoga, relaxation yoga, meditative yoga, yogalates, yoga in the park. They go to yoga festivals, post photos of themselves on the beach doing yoga, and obviously love this video of pets interrupting yoga (because it's very funny).
I definitely like yoga, but I am not the kind of person who will do anything so long as the Y-word is attached to it.
Actually, that's probably not true, but mostly because I am always looking for things to write about.
But I digress.
A friend of mine suggested I try aerial yoga at Tula Yoga & Wellness. Sounded interesting. All I knew for sure is that A) there were silks a la Cirque du Soliel involved and B) there was yoga involved and C) obviously, I'd look this elegant:
Tula is a great little yoga studio on Snelling Avenue in St. Paul. Not corporate-y at all, and smells like fancy herbal aromatherapy. I looooove fancy herbal stuff!
I approached the front desk and whispered (because obviously you immediately whisper any time you're in a yoga studio), I'm here for the aerial yoga class.
She showed me to the back yoga studio, where there were nine silks hanging from the ceiling. I picked my silk and unfurled my mat below. Everyone else was effortlessly perched in their silk (like a swing). Monkey see, monkey do. I hopped in and rocked back and forth just a bit. Hey, this is fun already!
And then our instructor had us come out of the silks and try our first few poses.
1. Wow, aerial yoga is a lot harder than it looks
If you watch any aerial yoga videos, you'll be amazed at the ease and grace in which practitioners transition from one elegant pose into another.
In real life, you spend the first 90 seconds trying to find the edge of the silk, then look at everyone around you to copy what they're doing... only to realize they have no idea what they're doing either! Next thing you know, everyone's awkwardly tangled in the silks like a string of Christmas lights.
Because we all had no idea what we were doing, there was lots and lots of laughter. Learning with a group is way fun.
2. The silks are not as comfortable as you'd think
For whatever reason, I imagined the silks feeling slightly boingy. You know, you flop over the silk, rag doll style, and the thing comfortably cradles your body.
Not the case.
This fabric, while very soft, doesn't give at all.
So while this pose looks very impressive, I was thinking owww... my hips! But I smiled through the pain.
Our instructor gave us a few options for padding out hips (towel, blanket, yoga mat), which helped immensely. She assured us that the more you practice aerial, the less it hurts.
I'd compare it to riding a bike: your butt/crotch kills you after that first ride of the season, but eventually your body toughens up and the pain goes away.
3. The silks help you get into really weird/awkward positions
I LOVED THIS. Because the silk helps support your weight, you can achieve greater depth in your stretches and do weird things like this:
4. Relaxing is so much easier
An unexpected moment of aerial yoga brilliance: relaxation poses are so much more relaxing! You climb into the silks and voila! You have your own little cocoon.
Hanging weightlessly in final savasana (that's the pose where you just lay on your back with hands at your side and eyes closed... also called corpse pose for obvious reasons) was notably more calm and quiet than just laying on the floor. The silk oscillated just slightly, lulling me into a that blissed out state I'm always trying to achieve... but typically don't because I'm busy thinking about what's for dinner.
5. I want one of these things in my house
I mean, how great would it be to crawl into one of these every morning for my daily meditation routine [which I don't even have, so....]? It's like a hammock, but even more comfy and not associated with Jimmy Buffet.
Aerial Yoga: Do or Don't?
Duh, it's a do! Even if you're not a yoga geek, it's a fun way to challenge AND laugh at yourself in a safe environment. Plus you get an awesome power nap at the end.
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A big thanks to the folks at Tula for inviting me to check out their studio. Have you tried aerial yoga? Thoughts? And PS Did you know you can win at yoga? You can and I did it once. Also yoga related: the three hours of life I wasted at the lululemon warehouse sale.