Overcoming My Fear of Aerial Yoga
My sister-in-law first introduced my to the practice of Aerial Yoga on her birthday weekend a couple of years ago in New Hampshire. She asked that I try a class with her. As with any new adventure, I did my due diligence on the internet and had trepidations about this type of yoga. Yoga is not new to me, as I have practice Bikram and Ashtanga in the past; but the images of being suspended like a Cirque de Soleil performer caused me some trepidation. I envisioned myself not so gracefully doing a header into the floor, wall, or the other Aerial participants. So, for the sake of humility, I gracefully declined.
Recently, my husband and I moved from Vermont to Southwest Colorado for employment opportunities. Never in my wildest dream would I have imagined moving anywhere west of the Mississippi. I was immediately taken in by the beautiful scenery and endless amounts of sunshine!
Much to my surprise, I was pleased to hear that there was yoga studio less than five minutes from my house. I looked at the schedule and saw "Aerial" yoga- a shiver went down my spine. But then I thought new place, new adventure, and thought I would give it a whirl. When I entered my first class, all the of the other participants seemed to look just like me, not one contortionist in the group. My anxiety level alleviated slightly. As the class began, the instructor could probably have guessed by my "deer in the headlights" stare that I was apprehensive. She immediately put my mind at ease as she explained the practice. She emphasized that any pose that cause discomfort (I assumed both physically and mentally) to refrain and assume a child's pose (one of my personal favorites) and to join back in on the next movement. The first pose I performed with relative ease and awkwardly moved through the series of movements. I began to do a mental happy dance and the empowerment showered over me.
The the instructor spoke of an inversion move which involved flipping upside down - happy dance dead, anxiety level through the roof. Although she demonstrated the move with such poise, the "header" nightmare reigned forefront in my mind. It was obvious that the other participants had done this before as I saw them flip upside down with ease. I stood there frozen thinking this would be a good time to assume child's pose. Seeing the panic in my eyes, the instructor calmly came to my rescue. She supported my back, gave me verbal instruction and said I needed to "trust". As with most people (I think), trust is not an easy leap of faith. I struggled through it and amazingly enough I was upside down without falling to the ground headfirst. Hanging upside down was an incredible feeling and the empowerment returned. While in inverted position, I completed an abdominal crunch workout, and a handstand, I have arrived! And in a moment it was gone - I had to turn right side up...anxiety reared its ugly head. But with what I accomplished so far, I had internal energy to overcome my fear. I carefully listened to the instruction, took a deep breath and in a moment I was confidently back on my feet again. After completing the inversion series, there was nothing I could not do! With that I completed the rest of the movements with an air of confidence. I felt proud that I not only conquered a fear; but I felt invigorated by Aerial Yoga.
I am happy to say that I am now an avid participant (and a huge fan) of Aerial yoga. With subsequent classes, I came to understand that the use of silks in a yoga practice improved my ability to complete challenging poses that I was unable to achieve in other yoga practices. I am grateful that my first experience with Aerial yoga was with a gifted yoga instructor who not only believed in the practice she empowered me to succeed.