Flying through the air with the greatest of ease a daring young woman on the flying trapeze… ok so I’m not really young or on a trapeze…
So did you know that we can now call hanging around in a hammock swinging back and forth a form of exercise? Yes… I promise… really. Let me explain~
I personally had never heard of aerial yoga until my friend Leigh put out a call to friends to see if anyone wanted to go with her to try out this new class. Leigh has had issues over the years with her sciatic nerve and had heard that aerial yoga might help to relieve lower back pain. While formal scientific studies are still underway, the thought is that by using zero-compression inversions you can stretch out the spine with little to no impact… thus relieving pain.
Now I personally don’t suffer from lower back pain but I am always looking to try something new when it comes to exercising… I find that changing it up keeps me motivated and from becoming bored with any one thing. So the 4 of us (yes Leigh was able to convince 2 other brave friends to join us)… headed to Vertical Girl Fitness in Warrenton VA.
So I will admit it’s a little shocking when you first walk in. All around you are the large silk (they probably aren’t silk but they feel like it) sheets hanging in a loop from the ceiling. The first thing you think is there is no way that sheet is going to hold me. Which one of us commented to the instructor who quickly smiled and said “well it holds up to 1000 pounds, I think the whole class could pile into one and we’d still have room left on the weight limit”.
So we all go stand next to a hammock (the sheets) and the instructor comes around to verify that they are the right height for us… adjusting them up or down as needed. Next we learn how to shake out our hammocks and hop on into it.
For the next hour I think we all giggled our way through the class.. We started with some meditation and deep breaths in order to ground ourselves but honestly I was too busy thinking about what was coming up next to be too mindful. I’m pretty sure there were talks of a small gurgling stream, deep breaths, and finding inner peace. At this point I’m not taking the class seriously – anyone who knows me, knows that unless I’m sweating and my muscles are aching I don’t really feel like I’m exercising… so my mind is wandering…
But then things start to get interesting… very quickly it goes from calming breaths to ok we are going to twist this cloth around your body and you are going to hang upside down and perform various yoga poses. This is when small bouts of terror hit you… holy crap if I don’t do this correctly I’m going down.. and most likely onto my head.
But then you’ve got the instructor with her calming voice walking you through each step of the way… coming by to support you while you perform an inverted pose that you previously would have told her she was crazy if she thought you were doing that. But then you see others in the class going for it.. so suddenly there you are hanging upside down 3 feet off the floor. And you realize the only thing stopping you was fear so you quickly let go of that.
Now, I won’t say all the poses are comfortable but I will say nothing hurts… There is an ache in some of the poses that I’m likening to what it feels like when you get a deep tissue massage. Where they are pushing on that pressure point and it feels uncomfortable but not painful… And when you come out of the pose you are a bit euphoric that it is done. And your body feels somewhat lighter.
Of the group of us that went to that first class, 3 of us have continued taking class. I won’t speak for the others but I will explain why I will continue to take this class. The class is a beginner aerial yoga class on Friday nights and it is late enough that I can get there after work. By the end of the week, my whole body feels tense and my shoulders feel like they are up around my ears from being hunched over a computer all week. Leaving the aerial yoga class I feel stretched out, relaxed and ready to enjoy the weekend with my family. It’s like the little gift I give myself after a hard week at work.
Thank you Leigh for letting me share part of your story. Leigh is a stay at home mother of 3, college student working on her career, and the owner of Take 2 Cakes & Cookies (which while I may be partial, has amazing tasting goodies).
Oh one thing I forgot to mention… so after the aerial yoga class our instructor proceeds to take us into the other part of the studio and show us around. Apparently they have pole dancing, hula hoop dancing, chair dancing and will soon be bringing on lyra (aerial hoop) classes. I’m pretty sure I’ll be signing up for at least one lyra class to fulfill my dream of performing in Circus Soleil. You can check out the studio’s website here: http://www.verticalgirlfitness.com/ On a last note, the classes that you would think are female only are… others like the yoga & lyra classes are open to both sexes.