Alas, I fear I must now face the stark reality that I will never, ever be a Cirque du Soleil-style aerialist.
My coworker Kimberly and I went on a fitness adventure by trying out Aerial Yoga at Spark Yoga in Arlington.
As you can see, aerial yoga is yoga that utilizes aerial silks in all of the moves. The description on the website reads:
Ready to fly? Decompress your spine and your mind by practicing yoga from a hammock suspended above the ground. Classes may include inversions, upper body exercises, and adventurous tricks using aerial hammocks.
Now, I’m no yoga pro, but I’ve been to enough classes and done enough at-home DVDs to know my way around a sun salutation or two, and my understanding was that this “beginner’s” level aerial yoga class would actually make things a little easier because the silk helps to support your weight and whatnot.
Plus, hello! It just looked fun!
Weeeeell, as it turns out, my assumptions were both true and not true. But mostly not true. Sure, certain stretches were made simpler (and deeper!) by utilizing the silk. It was cool to do things like put your foot into the fabric while sitting on the ground (so it was kind of like up in a sling) and stretch, or putting the silk under your arms and
falling leaning forward into a cobra pose. Plus, doing child’s pose while sitting in the “bucket” felt pretty fab.
But all the other stuff we were expected to do? Nottttt so much. As it turns out, putting a strip of fabric underneath your pelvic bone and downward-dogging on top of it actually kind of hurts. Not to mention the part where the instructor told us to then lift our legs off of the ground, so ALL OF OUR BODY WEIGHT was being balanced on our pelvic bone. And since I obviously have quite a bit of weight on me still, I couldn’t really do that (it REALLY hurt!), so then I started feeling pretty bad about myself when I saw all the other girls in the class suspended over the ground with ease.
I think the biggest problem with the class as a whole was that the instructor is so advanced in her aerial abilities (she was — is? — a professional aerialist and pole dancer) that I don’t think she considered giving out any modification suggestions. I mean, even when I did CrossFit and P90X and all that ridiculousness, there were always modifications for folks who weren’t as strong or as fit, and I didn’t get any of that at aerial yoga. And, hey, maybe it’s just that there aren’t really modifications possible with aerial yoga, but if that’s the case they should probably advertise that the class is for those who are already a little more advanced in yoga to begin with, right? I mean, throughout a large percentage of the class, I just kind of sat/dangled there not really knowing what to do (and feeling worse and worse about myself) while all the other girls got their Cirque du Soleil on. Womp womp.
Thankfully, the last 10 minutes of the class were somewhat redeeming. You end with savasana, but you do it inside the silk, so it’s basically like lying in a hammock/being wrapped up in a little cocoon. The instructor comes by and swings you gently back and forth, and you get to just lay there. Unfortunately, while I think the goal of savasana is to clear your mind and get into a good mental space, all I could do was fixate on how crappily I performed throughout the entire class. It was still nice and comfy though.
Anyway, as you can tell, aerial yoga really didn’t end up being for me, but I think a seasoned yogi or just folks who are lighter and more flexible might have a more enjoyable experience. And I guess for now, I’ll just stick to regular on-the-mat yoga whenever I need a fix. Blessedly, while I was whining to Kimberly after the class, she reassured me that she faced a lot of similar problems, so it does help to know that I wasn’t alone in my misery, haha.
Have you ever tried aerial yoga?