Flying on an airplane is easily my favorite way to travel. Being up in the air is not only a place of meditation for myself, but it’s freeing to be flying high above all of the world’s troubles. I’ve always felt a similar freeing feeling while practicing yoga, but with aerial yoga, there’s also that exhilarating feeling of flying, one that’s hard to get anywhere else.
Aerial yoga is an exercise I have wanted to try for a while now, but it’s been a practice that has intimidated me. As much as I am one to get out of my comfort zone and face my fears, aerial yoga, with its inversions and suspensions in the air, always frightened me, though I hated to admit it.
However, I was finally given the perfect opportunity to try it a few weeks ago. After reconnecting with an old friend from middle school, Christine O’Donnell, who also happens to be the founder of Sukha Arts Center, I was given my chance to fly, and I’m so glad I waited.
Sukha was the perfect place for me to give aerial yoga a try for the first time. The studio is different than anywhere else I’ve previously practiced yoga, and I felt encouraged by the teachers and the other students in class. It’s a special place, one that fully embodies the Sanskirt word Sukha, meaning happiness and well-being, supreme bliss and joy, and peace, sweetness, and ease. That’s exactly what one feels, not only in their classes, but immediately upon entering the studio.
While it wasn’t the easiest exercise I’ve ever tried, it also wasn’t the most difficult, and it was definitely the most beneficial for mind, body, and soul. Although I didn’t know what to expect, I loved figuring out the silk hammock and putting my trust in a piece of material that I didn’t realize would enable my body to be capable of so much. I am still in awe of all that my body can do, and what I learn each time I step into the studio.
Of course, the first time, it wasn’t without some pain. Since the hammock is placed on areas of the body that have never before been constricted, it does hurt the first time, especially when the band is placed on the hips. It’s comparable to a deep tissue massage, and with time, even by the second class, the body is used to it, and it no longer hurts.
I also felt nauseous and dizzy with my first experience because being upside down was not something my body was used to. But, Christine told me that was normal, gave me a few Starbursts to boost my sugar level, and let me sit out for a bit. By my second experience, the nausea and dizziness ceased, and it became easier to trust the hammock.
It’s an intense workout, one that focuses on and builds the core, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t something everyone can do. In fact, it’s much easier than I realized it would be, and it’s the most fun I’ve ever had working out. It’s impressive to see just how strong the body gets and how easy it is to trust in that small piece of material.
For me, it’s a way to escape reality for an hour and fifteen minutes each time I go, and it relieves the stress of daily life and infuses some fun back into the average work week. Aerial yoga gives me similar feelings that travel gives me, without having to go too far from home.
As far as workouts go, it’s a class that I look forward to each week and an experience I’d do every day if I could. My body feels stronger and my spirit is happier. Maybe it’s seeing just what my body is capable of, or the freeing feeling of flying in a way I haven’t previously experienced, but whatever it is, I highly recommend aerial to anyone who is willing to give it a chance.
If you want to give aerial yoga a shot, there are studios all over the world that offer the classes, but if you’re near Northern New Jersey, I can’t recommend Sukha Arts Center enough. The environment is perfect for free-spirited people looking to try something new. Not only do they have aerial yoga for $20 a class, or a five-class pass for $90, but they also offer dance classes for children and adults, yoga by donation, and art classes. After one class at their studio, you’ll understand exactly why I fell in love with Sukha and keep going back for more. Even if you can’t visit the studio yourself, I highly recommend following them on on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest, I promise that you will be inspired!