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Upside Down. Aerial Yoga, You Turn Me*

I like to live by the motto Variety is the Spice of Life. I am constantly seeking out new places to explore, new restaurants to dine at, and new experiences to enjoy.  Sometimes things stick, sometimes they don’t; but I rarely ever regret trying something new, even when it ends up scaring the crap out of me (i.e., trapeze, the ultimate swing, just to name a few). More on those past scary endeavors some other time.

As someone who practices yoga regularly, aerial yoga immediately piqued my interest. A yoga class all while simultaneously being suspended in the air? Yes, please. Sign this yogi up!

My friend Jess and I tried out aerial yoga for the first time in November 2015. During our seventy-five minute Aerial Yoga Basics class, we learned the fundamentals–everything from where to position the fabric below the hip bones (this is much more important than you might think–misplace that fabric and you will be in a lot of pain–trust me), to how to get into basic and more adventurous poses. It was love at first inversion–so unique, fun, and challenging. Really, how could I not have fallen head over fabric?

Clearly after our one seventy-five session, Jess and I were practically experts. So it should be no surprise that we signed up a few months later for another class (umm, the regular aerial yoga class that is–no more basics for us aerial aficionados!). We made it! And we only needed a few reminders (read: maybe more than a few) on how to do all of those fancy poses and tricks.

Thinking of taking an aerial yoga class but still not convinced? Read below for the top 4 reasons why it’s worth a try.

 

Where the magic happens: Spark Yoga – Arlington locationIMG_3874

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1.) It’s much more accessible than you probably think. In my opinion, aerial yoga looks so much harder than what it really is. Seriously. When I took my first class a few months ago, my primary goal was to be able to flip upside down just once before the end of the class. Actually, I had two goals. My second goal was not to come crashing down and fall on my ass (or head for that matter). You won’t, by the way. Come crashing down, that is. Those suspended hammocks are tightly secured and extremely safe–seriously.  By the end of class, I (along with every other single participant) was able to flip upside down many many times, and in most cases, with ease. It’s all about the placement of the fabric and knowing the steps involved in getting into the poses. As long as you can follow somewhat simple instructions, you will be able to do the majority, if the not all, of the poses.

2.) That soft stretchy fabric hammock thing is kind of a miracle-worker. There are a lot of poses and movements you can do with the aide of the fabric that you might not be able to do on a mat. For example, other than headstands, most inversions are not really part of my practice. Sure, I can hold a handstand for a few seconds, as well as against the wall, but that’s really the extent at the moment. Aerial yoga makes those inversions so much easier and you’ll find that you can probably hold a handstand/headstand and other inversions for much much longer with the assistance of the fabric than you typically can on your mat. There’s also less fear involved. Once you get over the fear of your soft stretchy hammock breaking (it won’t–seriously–get that thought out of your pretty little head this instance!), inversions become so much fun and much less fearful (at least they do for me).  I, for one, get kind of freaked out when attempting handstands and forearm stands on a mat, so I really never allow myself to truly go all in. Apprehension and fear can mess with my mind sometimes, but this is not the case at all with aerial yoga.

 

My friend, Jess in shoulder stand. Get it, girlfriend.

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3.) It’s a total body workout:  Aerial yoga focuses on balance, flexibility, core strength, muscle toning and strengthening of the joints, just to name a few. It also assists with spine decompression and body realignment.

4.) It’s just so much fun: Honestly, who doesn’t want to fly, flip upside down, and lay in a comfortable hammock, all in one class? No-one, that’s who. It’s playful, empowering, and unique. Not to mention that you totally feel like Pink during one of her bad-ass performances, as well as a Cirque du Soleil flying goddess/god.  Is it something that I would commit to each and every week? Probably not, or at least not at the moment. But it’s definitely something that I would love to continue every now and then to add some fun and variety to my workout routine.

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BUT, like with most things in life, you can’t have the good without some bad: Of course, aerial yoga certainly isn’t for everyone and there are a few negatives/issues to keep in mind:

*Dizziness–I didn’t experience any dizziness during my first class, but I was a bit dizzy towards the end of my most recent class. Within fifteen minutes of leaving the studio, my dizziness dissipated, but I’ve heard of it lasting for others for several hours after a class. Just something to be aware of.

*Soreness and discomfort–earlier I mentioned that the positioning of the fabric is really important–and it is. If it’s misplaced, it can dig into your body and make you really uncomfortable. Don’t be afraid to ask your instructor if something doesn’t feel right–repositioning that fabric as little as half of an inch can make all the difference in the world. My hip bones were sore for days after both classes!

*Cost–Like with many other popular and unique fitness craze classes (think: SoulCycle and [solidcore]), Aerial Yoga can be a bit on the pricey side. One class at Spark Yoga-Arlington costs $30. I haven’t taken an Aerial Silks class at the Trapeze School in Navy Yard, D.C. yet (but I’m planning on it–perhaps I’m still suffering from PTSD from my trapeze class last fall?!), but according to their website, a single class costs $40.  I’m not sure exactly how similar Aerial Yoga and Aerial Silks are–I guess we’ll all just have to try both so that we can make an accurate comparison!

 

Things to Know: To optimize your comfort and enjoyment level, wear clothes that cover under your arms and behind your knees. Those fabrics may be miracle-workers but they can also chafe the hell out of you. Avoid clothes with zippers and buttons, as well as wearing jewelry and clothes that are too loose, as both can get in the way. Another motto I like to live by: When in doubt, the tighter the clothes, the better…

 

SO what are you waiting for?!  It’s time to turn this mutha (and body) out*

Where to try Aerial Yoga/Silks in the D.C. area:

Spark Yoga Arlington

D.C. Trapeze School

 

*You may have noticed by my two *references, that I have phenomenal taste in music. It’s true. I love me some Diana Ross and Hammer–and both concerts are among highlights of my musical/concert life. So. So. Good.

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