I imagined myself whizzing through the air like a leotard-wearing Cirque performer. Flying over the audience, then wrapping myself up to the ceiling, and shock-inducingly, rolling downward. I land with a soft bounce at the of the fabric, inches from the floor while the audience lets out a sigh of relief.
Okay, so maybe it wasn’t exactly like I pictured. It’s a bit more subdued. The soft, stretchy fabric is there, but you’re never more than a few feet off the ground. Once I shook off the disappointment that I couldn’t go straight from the class to a Cirque audition, I started to enjoy it.
Anti-gravity, aerial, inversion yoga, whatever you want to call, is all about decompressing your spine and relieving areas of tension. Some classes use music and dance. Others are more playful, focusing on the art of flying within the confines of the limited space.
The class I went to, was taught by Michelle Dortignac, founder of Unnata Aerial Yoga. Her approach is to use the hammock to assist you, so that you focus more on the yoga than the fabric.
We started the class with lots of deep breathing and some chanting. Traditional yoga isn’t my cup of kombucha tea, so I passed on the ommmming. The rest of the class was like an a capella group in harmony. I knew my oh-so-unpitch-perfect voice would set us back in namasteness. Then we used the fabric to push our stretches deeper. Who would have thought bending over and resting your forehead on a hammock could feel so nice? We gradually used the hammock more and more, until all of our weight was on it. Pigeon pose sure looks a lot prettier off the ground.
And then Michelle said it was time to go upside down. We placed the fabric on our lower backs, and leaned all the way back. It’s pretty nerve-racking to bend backwards like that, but Michelle was standing by to spot us. With a gentle kick up of my legs, I was completely upside-down. I did it! That’s probably the most difficult and fun part of a basics class, so I can’t wait to try it again and do some more complex positions.
At the end, we stretched out the fabric to its full length for relaxation pose, letting it wrap around us like a cocoon.
I left feeling less stressed, and powerful knowing that I had accomplished the upside-side positions. If traditional yoga is for you, definitely check out Michelle at the Sacred Sounds Yoga Studio. If you’re looking for something a little more playful, check out Anti-Gravity Yoga.