Going into my first aerial yoga class I was filled with trepidation: Could I do the moves? Would the poses be too hard? What would I wear?
My mind raced with these questions as I darted in and out of traffic on my kick scooter- my chosen transportation to class. I found the studio on Bleecker Street, and timidly climbed the stairs to find a bright, clean, airy studio with numerous women welcoming me at the front desk. Some of my nerves dissipated as the staff and studio inspired a sense of calm. I quickly removed my shoes and stowed my belongings. I entered the beautiful studio. Bright teal silks draped from the ceiling, hanging in stark contrast to the brilliant white walls. A cool breeze drafted through the window and soft light covered my classmates, who were focused on their own stretching routines on yoga mats beneath the teal silk clouds.
Michelle, our teacher for the day, measured our hips against the silks to make sure they were at the appropriate height. She brought us to attention and we began. Michelle calmly and expertly led us through various stretches and exercises. She was consistently assuring: “Listen to your body and do what feels right to you.” There was an emphasis on breathing throughout the session. First we breathed to fill our stomachs and then to expand our lungs and feel our bodies fill and push against our ribs. Michelle instructed us to place the silks in different positions on our backs so we would feel our bodies expanding as we focused on deep breathing. The sensation was both calming and empowering. We stretched with our knees in the silks, we swayed with our backs in the silks, at one point we completely inverted and the silks hugged our hips as our bodies fell into hand-stand positions with the silks bearing most of our weight.
After stretching, breathing, inverting, and swaying, we were rewarded with a private hug by the silks. Michelle helped us work our full bodies into the silks so my classmates and I relaxed in our silk cocoons, slowly turning about the space in our own private orbits. The stress of the streets and the city dripped away from my body.
Eventually we were instructed to gently remove our bodies from the silks and cross legged on our mats. Michelle led us through an optional meditation that solidified the sense of peace and rest I experienced in my silk cocoon. The sense of calm stayed with me for a long while after the class. Although I rode the same streets home, they were more forgiving; the city, and my mind, were at ease.