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To fly or not to fly that is the question. For the 2nd Saturday in a row, thank you hockey schedule, I was able to take my circuit burn class followed by aerial yoga this morning. This was my 3rd aerial yoga class. One of the questions, I’ve been asked most often since starting aerial yoga is which practice do I prefer. Do I prefer aerial or vinyasa?
The answer isn’t so easy because both the aerial and vinyasa practices feed each other. There are aspects of aerial yoga that will translate into a better practice on the mat. For example, the inversions in aerial yoga are much easier because the swing supports you and provides balance. Consequently, since the inversions are aided in a sense, it allows you to work on strength and alignment. As an added bonus, you can hold the pose for a significantly longer time. I guess the answer is that I prefer both.
Aerial yoga takes a significant amount of trust and letting go of fear. You have to trust yourself and the swing knowing that it will prevent you from falling and hurting yourself. Moreover, you have to let go of fear. Admittedly, the first aerial yoga class I took was intimidating. My teacher Monica, who is incredible, encouraged all of us to let go of our fear. Additionally, she also showed us how to position our bodies to prevent a fall and assisted us with the poses. As a consequence, I felt comfortable in the fabric by the end of my first class.
Aside from the fear of getting hurt or embarrassing oneself by falling, the fear of not being able to keep up is omnipresent that first class. If you find yourself in an aerial yoga class discouraged by your ability, do like Elsa and “let it go.” Today in class, there was someone completely new to aerial. Almost half way through the class, she became discouraged and was ready to leave because she couldn’t keep up. Fortunately, between our teacher’s encouragement and her fellow classmates’ encouragement, she decided to stick it out. While she may have struggled that first half of class, she absolutely slayed the second half.
I think the turning point was realizing that: a) nobody was judging her b) everyone progresses at their own speed c) her practice is her own. In my opinion, there is no better teacher of humility than a good yoga practice. I’m a highly competitive person. Yoga has helped me put that aside. I’ve learned to accept that my practice is my own own and I’m in competition with nobody. In addition, I learned that I loved savasana in aerial yoga even more than on the mat. I know, I didn’t know it was even possible. In the aerial class, you encase yourself in the yoga silk, which becomes akin to a hammock. It sways ever so gently during the pose, which is okay with me. By the end of the savasana, I feel like I’ve just woken up from the best night’s sleep. I freaking love it.
Due to my work and hockey schedule, I haven’t been able to go to a Vinyasa class for a couple of weeks. I cannot, however, wait to see how I’ve progressed on my mat since starting my aerial practice. As for my aerial practice, I look forward to seeing how it evolves from week to week. Significantly, I’ve noticed with each class a step function in ability and comfort. Last week I was able to do a flip, while today I was able to do plow and a shoulder stand. It was pretty awesome stuff. Tomorrow it’s Xtend Barre in the morning followed by hockey games in the afternoon. At some point tomorrow, I’ll try to tackle the household chores. I’ll probably try to get some laundry done and maybe even take a nap.
Tonight’s song comes courtesy of Tom Petty in honor of Aerial Yoga: Learning to Fly