Aerial yoga

For Christmas, a friend gave me a gift certificate for an aerial yoga class. I’m also her son’s teacher, so it was my teacher gift as well. It’s the first time I ever recieve a present from a parent that has the words “pole dancing” on it! There wasn’t any actual pole dancing involved, but the class was at a pole dancing studio.

In January, just before school started up again after the holidays, four of us braved the snow and made our way to the studio. We weren’t exactly sure what to expect. I’ve tried aerial silks before, but I wasn’t sure if it would be the same thing or not.

Turns out, it was a good work out, a lot of fun and a great challenge! Our instructor made it look easy, but it really wasn’t. We started of kind of flying back and forth, which was nice, when you got used to the ribbon cutting into your stomach. I thought it would slice me in half, but that was just because it wasn’t placed right. Oh. My bad.

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We did some handstands too. Correction. The other girls did handstands. I developed a sudden fear of the floor coming too close to my face. Must get over it, as I would like to do an actual, unsupported handstand one day.

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Then we tried some sort of flying flip thing. Ha! That did not work. Not even a little. Not even at all. (See how I snuck part of that poem from 10 things I hate about you in there? yeah, I know. Awesome!) One of the girls did it. She must have been taking something to boost her performance, because it was impossible.

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We did a few upside down poses. That was kind of the point of this whole thing. At first, it was too much of a head rush and I felt like I was going to explode, so I didn’t stay flipped around for very long. But after a while, I got used to it, and could get into a few poses instead of just hanging there like a Christmas decorations.

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They made us keep our socks on, so I look like some sort of lumberjack aerialist. Those socks were never supposed to be in the pictures.

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Aerial yoga is on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days, so I’m pretty happy I got to do it. I would definitely recommend trying it if you like yoga, being upside down, flying and having sore hipbones and arms the next day. Because we also pulled ourselves up using upper body strength. I don’t have very much of that, so my arms felt like noodles the next day. But it was worth it!

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At the very end, we got to stretch out and relax inside the ribbon. It’s actually very wide. We hung there in our cocoons for a while, then emerged as beautiful butterflies. Ha! Just kidding. We emerged as sweaty messes, but smiling sweaty messes.

The road to headstands is paved with pillows

If you want to flip upside down, you’re going to fall a lot before you get there. I’m very motivated to one day do a headstand. Or a handstand. Or anything that gets me upside down. But that means I fall down all the time.

I read on someone’s blog that she wanted to do a handstand one day, so she did crow every day and practiced cartwheels in the park. I don’t remember which blog it was, or I would post a link. I thought this was a great idea. Well, the crow part, not so much the cartwheel part. You see, I can’t do a cartwheel. I never could. When I was a kid, I spent entire summers trying so hard to get my legs up as I wheeled myself around, down a hill, on the beach, in the grass, everywhere. It just never worked. I’d be willing to try again, but I’m way more self-conscious now.

So, back to crow. I now have a yoga mat set up in my spare bedroom, so I decided to try doing crow pose every day. I usually look like this.

But sometimes, more and more often, I actually get into it, and stay there. Not very long, but a few months ago, crow wasn’t even a part of my practice, so I’m pretty happy with myself!

Then, today, I went to a really great power flow yoga class with Todd. We did a lot of poses to build strength. One thing I really appreciated was that it didn’t feel as hot as it ususally does. I do love the heat, but when you’re trying new things, it’s nice to feel the heat a little less. I was still melting, but like a popsicle, not lava.

We did some kick-ups (I think that’s what it was called) to practice getting into a forearm stand or a handstand. We had our arms or hands on the mat, looked down, kicked up one leg, then the other, before bringing them down. In my case, it was more momentum than anything else, but I liked the feeling of having more weight on my hands or arms. When the whole class was doing it, we sounded like elephants trying to Riverdance, but it created a great energy.

I didn’t do anything perfectly today, which is why it was such a great class. I had fun, I laughed, I fell. I’m really enjoying where I am in my practice. I’m happy about that, because wishing I was somewhere else would just make everything a lot harder. Bring on the inversions! (And the pillows!)

Fearless flow

Over the weekend, I was talking about my yoga classes with my mom, and I mentioned that during a lot of classes, the teachers will say “Now is the time, if you are able, to do a headstand or a handstand.” It think that’s great, for those who know how to do inversions, but what about the rest of us? I doubted I could do it, but I would be willing to try. However, this is not something you can just start doing all alone in your living room. You need to know the proper way to get in and out of these poses. I decided I would ask the girls at the studio about this.

Then, yesterday, as I was looking at the schedule for the day, I decided to try one of the classes I can’t normally attend because I’m at work. (woohoo, day off!) I noticed something called fearless flow. It’s a class designed to get you into inversions! Just goes to show you, if you want something, you only have to ask for it. Actually, I didn’t ask, but whatever.

We learned how to do a headstand, which looks like this.

I looked more like this.

Actually, that’s not true. At least the kitty has both legs off the ground. I could either have my head touch the ground or have my legs straight, but not both at the same time. I felt like my arms, shoulders and head were very weak. I didn’t know my head could feel weak, but there’s a first time for everything. Just to clarify, I felt weak like I couldn’t support my weight, not weak like I was scared to try. I was very willing to go upside down, but my body said “No thanks, not today.”

I probably looked more like this. I’m not sure, because at some point, I stopped looking in the mirror.

I was a little disappointed, because even though I knew I wouldn’t get it on the first try, part of me secretly hoped I would. I need to work on my upper body strength, but one day, I will flip upside down. I am fearless!