Class held at Sacred Sounds Yoga
Sunday, February 2nd at 2:00pm-4:00pm
163 Bleecker Street (bet. Sullivan & Thompson Streets)
New York, NY 10012
T: 212.533.YOGA (9642)
Especially designed for brand new beginners! Learn the basic techniques behind Unnata® Aerial Yoga. Unnata® Aerial Yoga is a fun way to begin a yoga practice, or to better understand and deepen your traditional yoga practice, no matter which technique or style. This workshop will help you get comfortable and become confident with using the yoga hammock prop so that you can smoothly jump into weekly classes.
Space is limited, so pre–registration is highly recommended.
Cost: $25 in advance / $30 on day of
Karen Patterson is a production manager for a small accessories company who also creates her own vegan beauty products. She took her first Aerial Yoga class at Sacred Sounds Yoga last October.
Ever since I saw an image of yogis suspended from dangling silks, I had been curious to try Aerial Yoga but there was always that thing holding me back. That thing being work, social obligations, chaos of life, intimidation of trying something new, fear, you name it. Like most of us, I would use it as an excuse. But after a summer of challenging myself with surfing and stand up paddle boarding, fall came around and I decided it was time to try an Aerial Yoga class.
Now it was me time. Time to be brave and explore the concept of Aerial Yoga. I showed up to Michelle’s class at Sacred Sounds not knowing what to expect. Did I need to be an acrobat, dancer, or seasoned yogi? No. I soon learned I just had to be myself. Intimidated by the silky blue hammock at first, I soon learned it was like an old friend. The hammock would help me balance, as well as strengthen and open my poses. It is comforting and supporting, while evoking a childlike sense of fun and inner peace. From the first class, hanging upside down came surprisingly natural to me. Michelle guided us through warm-up poses so seamlessly that I felt at ease to take the next big step or flip into the inverted state. It was hard not to giggle the first time I found myself heels over head. It is very freeing, while very centering at the same time. By my second yoga class, the hammock no longer was a source of uneasiness but a vehicle of unlimited possibility. What new poses would we explore? What new muscle groups would I discover? How would I progress in my practice? I noticed my body opening and stretching in ways I did not know possible and it felt amazing.
After a month of classes two times a week, Aerial Yoga has made a profound change in my life. It has forced me to focus and let go of fear. It has taught me to trust myself more and has helped to strengthen my mind body connection. My yoga practice on the ground has improved tremendously; my poses are stronger, my breathing deeper, and my fear of inversion into headstands waning. I now look forward to escaping the chaos of the city to enter my own silk cocoon, emerging relaxed and empowered.
I have absolutely LOVED the Aerial Yoga classes that I have attended at the Sacred Sounds Yoga Studio with Michelle and Cynthia!! I’ve been able to attend twice a week Aerial Yoga classes, along with other yoga classes at the studio over the past month. Just within this last month, I have really noticed a difference in the way that I am able to open myself up in a pose on the floor because of what I’ve learned in the hammock.
When I first tried Aerial Yoga, I was so intrigued that I just went for the upside down poses and hoped for the best, feeling brave and acrobatic like, so funny looking back. However, after the initial class, and then a class after that, I felt like, Ok, I got this. Then I began to understand the feeling of relaxing the breath and allowing the breath to open your rib cage which then opens your heart/chest. I can breathe so much deeper when I go running in the mornings because of the breath being able to expand through my chest instead of being closed and always feeling like I’m going to hyperventilate.
Since in Aerial Yoga you are concentrated a lot on movement and breathe and putting them together sequentially, I felt my heart blossom open class by class. I can now bind my hands on both sides behind my back!!! :D The way the hammock allows you to open up the chest and hips is so incredibly helpful when you are performing poses on the ground, not to mention feeling amazing!! :) Also, feeling your center on the ground is something huge I learned a lot about in the Aerial Yoga classes. Now when I perform Warrior 2, or even Tree pose, I always think of Aerial yoga and the invisible string connecting to the ground going up to the heavens, kinda like Tai Chi. I think of centering. I am able to do tripod head stand as well now, and keep my legs in the air!
While running and trying to take in deep replenishing breaths, I remember the feeling of hanging in the hammock and feeling the expansion going downward, but imagined that same opening, but upward, and I am able to keep taking these deep replenishing breaths to keep me going. It sounds weird, but it totally works! :DI just LOVE Aerial Yoga and all the amazing benefits it can add to your practice and everyday activities. I want to figure out a way to get a yoga hammock in my house now! hahaha
Danielle Abisaab took an Aerial Yoga class and was immediately hooked after her first class, shortly after that she discovered and partook in the Unnata Aerial Yoga teacher training course with Michelle back in 2011. She is now teaching in Beirut / Lebanon where she has her own studio.
FLIGHT OF FANCY?…Not anymore
I discovered Aerial Yoga in NY a few years back, on a day where my sister
insisted I should try “this new type of yoga”.
Being that I no longer live in NY, I always feel no one should ever interfere
with my busy schedule, reconnecting with my teachers, loading up on Yoga
workshops and classes, hanging out with my friends or wandering aimlessly
through the streets of NY. The amounts of time abandoning myself to the city I
love so much were not about to be curtailed by some “yoga that wasn’t even real
yoga” I thought to myself when she insisted I should go. Naturally, I displayed a
great amount of resistance only to give into it in the end.
I took class at one of the leading schools and had the most fun I had had in a
while. Was it the discovery of something new, the fact I swung, flipped, hung,
flew and giggled all at once, was it the freedom and lightness I experienced
while doing it? I don’t really know but I walked out feeling exhilarated and
strangely enough very whole. I made sense of it later when I realized the practice offered an opportunity to reconnect with my inner child again, a part of me I had perhaps forgotten a bit.
Despite all the obvious positive observations and excitement about this
newfound activity, I still thought the element of yoga was not really highlighted
and wondered even why the “yoga” part.
Little did I know that this very thought was going to embark me on an interesting
journey. I was convinced that somewhere out there, some yoga teacher was
probably teaching aerial yoga and I had to find them badly, I hoped they would
be in NY for practical reasons but the big question was would he or she offer
teacher training. It had become very clear by then I wanted to share this
discovery with my “terrestrial” yoga students back in Beirut where I have been
living and teaching for the past 8 years.
My research quickly yielded to Unnata Yoga. Just from exploring the website and
reading about Michelle Dortignac extraordinaire, I knew the method she had so
resourcefully put together was exactly what I was looking for. A primary focus
on yoga with all that it encompasses, taught with a hammock as a prop…not the
other way around.
Without hesitation, I signed up for the following Teacher Training, had a
wonderful time while going through the whole experience and the rest is history.
I have done other trainings in Aerial Yoga and practiced at different schools
which all manage to show me in different ways who I am and where I am headed.
The different influences I have received- just like with my regular practice-
have merged into my own method of teaching Aerial Yoga today. Unnata Yoga,
however remains the method that has -and continues to- nourish the essence
of my teachings, perhaps because it is directly plugged and remains true to the
Taking flight and feeling weightless -a dream most of us share- is no longer a
fantasy and has been made possible by many fine people out there. Being able to
share it with the rest of the world with precision, creativity and fun is thanks to
the grace and passion of Michelle Dortignac.
Unnata Aerial Yoga was featured in the 2013 Fall/Winter issue of ACCENT: The Magazine of Life’s Celebrations by LUX BOND & GREEN.
Reporter Elise Diamante took an Unnata Aerial Yoga class at Sacred Sounds Yoga in NYC, and interviewed Michelle afterwards.
You can click on the images below to enlarge the article to read it.
Stacey Huard took the teacher training course last August read her beautiful description on Aerial Yoga below.
What is this Unnata Aerial Yoga? A new spin off the yoga craze in the West filled with gimmicky promotion? A new fitness regime to add to the already intimidating practice of yoga, perceived as accessible only to the ideal body? Those were my exact thoughts when I was first visually introduced to the practice. Even with these closed judgments that I can admit I am not proud, there was this longing guided by curiosity that had me try my first class. This article is for those who are filled with this same sense of curiosity and perhaps resistance to the hybrid practice.
As I find my fabric hammock and line my mat beneath, I can sense the anticipation within me stirring. Thoughts circling as my senses take in my surroundings. With an open mind, I tune into the voice of the yoga teacher and allow the guidance to take me into a practice that will surprise this heart filled resistance.
The sensations of the fabric sliding between the thumb and index finger providing a comforting reminder of the release I will soon feel. Stepping into the symbolic earth beneath my feet, I walk forward and feel the massage of the fabric against my shoulder. Hugging me closely to allow for an opening I now crave. I surrender my weight into this embrace and am filled with a taken care of release. Stepping back until I am once again held in the fabric, I feel the massage it provides my lumbar spine and a trust in the embrace and surrender my self, gently releasing back and opening through my front body and eventually my heart.
As more of my weight eases into the fabric, I can observe through sensation the tension melting off my body and I lean more heavily into the supportive structure. As my body inverts, head towards the earth and feet to sky, I am energized while simultaneously filled with ease. The entire weight of my being is now held in space between earth and sky.
The familiarity of the soles of my feet drawing together, in this inverted cobbler’s pose provides a reassuring softness and allows the top of my head to dissolve, relieving the effort of my brain. A break that even for a moment is celebrated. I place my hands on the mat beneath and strengthen my shoulders, energize and straighten my legs, feeling once again the embrace of the fabric wrap around my thighs as I access a supported hand stand. Deeply held in this inversion I am able to surrender all aspects of fear and am able to trust in the moment.
As I reflect upon the class, I am surprised by my appreciation and ponder on its cause. Perhaps it is the actual release of ego that we experience while in the supportive Aerial hammock. Perhaps the freeing of our circling thoughts as we are able to enter moments in time without agenda, without effort and only the act of letting go. And as we know, there is no action in this only and invitation for connection.
Once again life experience has taught me that in this life, we are presented with a kaleidoscope of opportunities to trust, open and love. We have the ability to color them any way we wish but to be wary of the limitations of our perceptions. In any moment in time we are free to close ourselves off or soar into a new forms of awareness and self -discovery.
Here is the fourth installment in the Unnata Mini Class video series. Each video in the series shows 10-15 minutes in real time (unedited) of what an Unnata Aerial Yoga class looks and feels like.
Unnata Mini Class #4 demonstrates the Aerial Pigeon, also explaining how this benefits our floor practice and ultimately our everyday lives.
I spend a lot of time in the air; I love being in the air. I love climbing, inverting, finding new ways to stretch and to drop into a ‘trick’.
I am an aerialist and a dancer and as fun as it is, my profession is also very hard on my body.
I look forward to Aerial Yoga classes because I get the thrill of being in the air and of being upside down, while also doing something good for my body and mind. I can find these awesome moments of relaxation, where the pressure of the silks massage my tired muscles and gravity lengthens the space between my bones. I can go deeper into a pose that while in ‘ground’ yoga, I didn’t quite understand where my body position should be exactly. But because the fabric partners with balance and with gravity the choices for body positioning become that much less and it becomes acutely clear where I need to be in the fabric and on the floor.
What I love most about Aerial Yoga, what I crave when I get the opportunity to take class, is the weightlessness, is hanging two feet above the ground and learning ways to support myself with the fabric and staying there until I forget I’m being supported by the fabric and can just focus on gravity undoing all the compression it normally inflicts onto me on a regular day. My cranky muscles scream at first and then slowly they begin to relax and open.
I learn how to stretch areas in my body that I’ve been trying to stretch for months prior, but haven’t been able to go as deeply because my body and the earth just don’t quite fit that perfect way.
I love the parts where the hammock allows me to shut out the rest of the world and very quietly just be one with my hammock, while cocooned inside with the blue hue from the color of the fabric all around, there is nothing to see, no phone to check, no To Do List to think about. It’s just me and the fabric, calm, quiet, serene and best of all weightless.
Though I don’t practice yoga nearly enough, whenever I leave an Aerial Yoga class I always think, “That was amazing!,” and I quietly affirm to myself, “I need to do this more often.”
As an aerial silks performer, I was really excited about taking a class that would restore my body’s alignment through the use of the principles of yoga and doing so with an apparatus that I am already familiar. The beginning of this class felt very restorative. We started with some spine stretches, using the silks as a prop to hold our weight against gravity. I enjoyed the leg, arm, and core workout that was happening simultaneously. Sitting upright in butterfly pose felt very relaxing and calming. I look forward to using the strengthening and stretching exercises that were learned in the beginning of class in my own aerial class. Personally, I felt the yoga principles had dissipated in the latter half of class. I would have preferred to continue on with the yogic vocabulary and the gentle flow of yoga with the silks as a tool rather than a focus of strength and muscular toning. Finishing class with meditation was a wonderful way to end my evening and put an ease to my body and mind.