I travel half of the year between Europe, Asia, the United States, and Canada for work. I love what I do, but I sit quite a lot, spending hours on my cell phone in airports trying to answer an average of 200 emails daily. Science says sitting is the new smoking, and if that's true, I knew my body would need some extra attention. I have to admit that text neck and bad posture were getting the best of me! Something had to be done…
Researching a holistic way to heal my spine in particular, I came across an article on aerial yoga. I checked out the studio and the reviews were amazing, so I enrolled in the beginner class that same evening.
I arrived curious and a bit nervous.
The idea of shifting my yoga practice to upside down, quite literally, was daunting. When was the last time I had my head below my butt? Probably as a kid hanging from tree branches with my brother. I wondered what I was getting myself into, and if I was in over my head.
After adjusting the height of the silk swings, the first exercise was learning how to "mount" your swing. We watched the teacher, and it looked simple enough: hold both sides of the silk and jump back into a seated position on the swing. On the count of three, we jumped back to sit, swinging a lot at first, feeling a bit dizzy, then finally stabilizing. The first lesson I learned was that aerial yoga is all about controlling your movements. In order to do this, you use stabilizers in your core you don't normally engage with during the day, which is one way this kind of free movement helps to support and release the spine.
The teacher reassured us newbies that the silk can hold thousands of pounds.
After watching her demo the first inversion, I was nervously laughing. I knew if I thought too much about it, I wouldn't get my feet up off the ground. Yet the inner child in me was awakened and wanted to fly! I tapped into a playful energy I hadn't felt in a long time.
The first move upside down was a little terrifying. Letting go of my hands and trusting the silk to hold me was scary, but the adrenaline rush was incredible and gave me wings to fly. As the class unfolded, I learned to trust my balance and developed a different consciousness of my body in space, freed from the effects of gravity.
I'm completely enamored by the sensation of lightness.
Stretching every part of my spine and hips was so liberating. Aside from the playful dimension, it has become an amazing workout that gives me the satisfaction of pushing my limits. It's safe to say I’m elevating from land yogi to air yogi.
As class ended I caught myself in the studio mirrors and noticed my posture had improved, after just one class. My spine felt completely realigned and there was an incredible rosy glow to my complexion from having increased circulation, especially to the face. I walked out of the studio with a newly elongated spine, high on a childlike sense of joy, filled with a lightness of being I had not experienced since playing in the trees with my brother. By opening space in my spine, I opened space in my mind.
If you're stuck in a yoga rut or suffer from back pain, try these five poses for major relief.
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