Monday, July 29, 2013

Trust... And Other Things I Learned Hanging By A Thread...

Vita-Prana Studio - Smyrna GA
Since I'm in the throws of Project: Present, I figured now is as good a time as any to share my aerial yoga experience.
It is definitely relevant to this experiment… more than that, this post is way overdue.

A few months ago I decided to try a new yoga practice… Unnata Aerial Yoga.
What is aerial yoga?
In a nutshell… at least in my opinion… it is where yoga and strength training meet in mid air.
It is a combination of mat yoga and yoga using the support of silk/nylon hammocks hanging from the ceiling.

Confession: 
Beyond the fact that it just looked so effin' cool, I decided to try aerial yoga because I thought it would be easier than regular mat yoga.
I saw a segment on Good Morning America and they showed how using the the hammock with poses that would normally have me teetering, kept the person steady while also deepening the stretch.
Awesome!
Add to that the swinging and the relaxation hangs… I was sold…
And sold myself a big fat wolf ticket!

It is fun… but it is far from easy.

In addition to being a fascinating full-body workout that uses a lot of your own body weight, it is a rigorous mental workout as well.
It is an advanced course in focus, discipline, presence… and trust.

Having a successful yoga practice depends on your ability to have complete and total focus on your breath and your body.
You must be one hundred percent present from first cleansing inhale to the last namaste.
You must be aware of every single inch of your body and what it is doing from the hair follicles on your head to your toe nails.
Aerial yoga adds trust to those elements.

It's easy to trust myself on the mat.
I'm a former gymnast and dancer, and while I haven't done either in decades, balance and stretching is still somewhat second nature.
I think that's also why the idea flipping around and swinging in the air didn't initially frighten me...
Until it was time to lift off the mat and into the air.

The suspended fabric hangs before me.
My disappointing weight gain stares at me from the mirror.
Vita, my beautiful instructor, tells me to bunch the fabric so it is as narrow as possible, place it in an awkward place under my bottom, and lean back.
If you saw where she told me to put the fabric, you would have had the same thought I had in that moment… "If I lean back, I will fall."
Actually, I said it out loud.
Actually, I said "If I lean back, my fat ass is gonna fall."
"No you won't." Vita says.
"Are you sure?"
Vita gives me the "Dude, I've been doing this for a long time. No you are not gonna fall" face.
I give her the "Dude, you are a model-thin yoga instructor… do the math!" face.

Vita comes to my side and helps me get the fabric into the proper position.
It is awkward as hell. The fabric position, that is… I was grateful for the help.
She gently rubs my back and says "Trust yourself, Christie. Trust your body. Breathe. Lean back. You will not fall."

Funny thing… I heard "You will not fail."

I took a deep breath...
Focused all of my attention on my body...
Whispered to myself "I trust you. I will not fall." 
I leaned back and flipped myself into the first part of my first inverted pose.
Still not fully sure how I did it, or really how someone figured out that this would actually work… and hold someone… but who cares… I effin' did it!
"Now," Vita says… "Let go."

Breathe… Focus… Trust… Let go… 

I always feel refreshed and renewed when I finish my yoga.
Aerial yoga offered a sense of clarity that I never expected.
A greater awareness of how much I need to trust myself… my abilities… my strength…
I am obviously stronger physically and mentally than I give myself credit for.
To trust is to believe… and vice versa.

Oh and the best part of aerial yoga?
The "nap" at the end.
Namaste :)