Well, that was interesting… is just one way to describe my first attempt at aerial yoga.
Another term for it is “awkward.”
I knew it would be challenging, especially since I have practically no upper body strength. Regardless, I wanted to give it a whirl, so I contacted Carrie Aquino, who co-owns Evolve Barre Yoga Pilates with Alison Turnbaugh, and she graciously agreed to give me my first lesson at their Mansfield studio — the first and only aerial studio in Richland County.
I’ve done yoga before, plenty of times, just never suspended off the ground. I made the mistake of watching videos of people doing aerial yoga before trying it myself and it looked like something straight out of Cirque du Soleil.
“Umm… yeah, I’m definitely not going to be able to do that. I really hope we can stick to beginner moves,” I thought.
And we did — at least that’s what Carrie assured.
But, oh man, I was struggling to do even some of the simple moves, as you can tell.
I think one of my biggest problems was that I catapulted my head and torso toward the ground like a maniac instead of easing into the inverted position. And, as you can imagine, I got dizzy and light-headed as a result. I thought I was going to be sick, but the feelings of nausea subsided not long after returning home.
It felt nice doing some of the standing stretches. I kind of had a snap-crackle-pop symphony going on because I hadn’t done much stretching since before I was pregnant (over a year ago).
I was reminded how utterly weak my arms are. Trying to pull myself up with my feet off the ground was one of the hardest parts. I’ve never been all that strong — that was what always hurt my score for Presidential Fitness Test in school… those darn pull-ups.
Carrie was really helpful in guiding me along as I flailed my arms and legs around. I had her show me some of the more advanced sequences. See below.
Carrie said classes are typically divided into four sections: flexibility, strength conditioning, “the fun stuff,” i.e. tricks and flips, and shavasana (relaxation).
“What we typically do is teach basics and then build on that,” she said.
In time, participants create sequences, allowing them to flow from one movement to the next.
Aerial yoga increases flexibility, stretching the hip flexors, hamstrings, quads and the back. It also decompresses the spine, which is great for alleviating lower back pain, she said.
“This will build upper body strength honestly faster than anything we have here at the studio, and that is one of the biggest things clients will notice when coming consistently,” she said.
Classes are ongoing for both adults and kids ages 8-13. Click here for a schedule.
I found comfort in the fact that Carrie wasn’t initially sold on aerial yoga when she first tried it.
“To be honest, I hated it,” she said.
She, like myself, felt sick afterwards and thought she’d never do it again.
“But it’s challenging, and I love a challenge,” she said.
I can resonate with that. So who knows, maybe I’ll get back in the hammock again. I’m up for a challenge.
Author's note: I hope this story encourages you to try something new, no matter how silly or awkward you may look in the process. Who cares? It's about getting up and getting active.