Yoga and the Art of Attention

Frequently, when I meet someone new, in order to begin to know me, they ask, “What do you do?” This question has always made me a little uncomfortable, and not because I regret the career I’ve chosen, or wish I could be doing something else. It’s just that the question is so limited. As a person, I am so much more than my job. And yet, the question is reasonable to ask. What else are they supposed to say?

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Ode to Eleanor

I don’t know if my grandmother was a singer all of her life, but she was a singer for all of my life. I remember an important part of her week was being in the church choir, even as she moved residences, and therefore moved from church to church. When I was in my late teens and early 20’s, I would sometimes go to rehearsals with her, because I also loved to sing. I sang in high school, so I could read sheet music and follow along well enough.

Grandma was a lover of the arts, but especially music. I remember attending several musical and theatrical performances with her over the years, from a local musical at Leisure World put on by residents, to regional shows at the Olney Theater, to national touring shows at Lincoln Center. All four of her children studied piano, she almost always had music playing whenever she was home, and she even sang a duet with grandpa as a part of their 50 year wedding anniversary celebration. Many of us did a short performance of some sort as part of the celebration, but of course, grandma and grandpa stole the show with their wit and comfort being at the center of a room full of loving friends and family.

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“Inside My Hammock” Series Announcement

Michelle Dortignac is starting a new series entitled, Inside My Hammock. This series will take a closer look into the inner workings of Unnata® Aerial Yoga, from decisions made, to advice, thoughts, and wisdom of Unnata founder Michelle Dortignac.

Take a look at the first two videos Intro to “Inside My Hammock” Series and Awkward Isn’t Forever.

And keep an eye out for upcoming videos!

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sutra 1.2 (in English)

Sometimes my mind runs amok, galloping quickly, in a forward flight, at the speed of light. It reaches other universes, goes to other lives, far, far away from the here and now.

My heart wants to follow, accelerating, never getting close. My breathing accelerates, slows, is disoriented and decides to stop..apnea..the body gives in, surrenders. Impossible to travel so far, to other worlds, to other lives, to other wars. Impossible.

And I remember that I know how to go back. I just have to look for that lighthouse that will take me to solid ground, that will bring me back to the present. A less fractious, traveling part of my mind searches for the breath, concentrates on it and, like a lost ship, we return to dry land. I take a deep breath and return to the present. My breathing, feeling observed, calms down. The heart calms, always trusting the breath. In the present, in this life, in this universe, there are no storms. And, if there are, I am prepared to overcome them…

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sutra 1.2 (en español)

A veces la mente se desboca, y galopa rápido, en una huida hacia delante, a la velocidad de la luz diría yo… porque alcanza otros universos, se va a otras vidas, lejos, muy lejos del aquí y el ahora.

El corazón quiere seguirla, acelera el paso, hace lo que puede, aunque no llega nunca a estar ni cerca. La respiración se acelera, se para, está desorientada y decide parar, apnea, el cuerpo cede, se rinde. Imposible viajar tan lejos, a otros mundos, a otras vidas. a otras guerras. Imposible.

Y recuerdo que sé volver. Solo tengo que buscar ese faro que me lleve a tierra firme, que me devuelva al presente. Una parte menos díscola y viajera de mi mente, busca la respiración, se concentra en ella y, como un barco perdido, volvemos a tierra firme, respiro profundo y vuelvo al presente. Mi respiración, al sentirse observada, se calma. El corazón se calma, siempre se fía de la respiración. En el presente, en esta vida, en este universo, no hay tormentas. Y, cuando las hay, estoy preparada para superarlas…

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Pick Up the Pace

Sometimes life throws something onto your path that makes you slow down or even stop altogether. You might welcome the pause when it’s an extended vacation or a sabbatical, but at other times, it might not be your intention to stop. Maybe you get sidetracked by an illness or a global pandemic. Whether you wanted to slow down or not, there usually comes a time when it’s necessary to pick up the pace again.

How can you pick up the pace after a pause, without lots of effort and stress?

When you move at a fast pace, you can get so much done in a short amount of time. When you move slowly, it takes longer to complete the same task. So you may feel like you never have enough time to accomplish everything, and the stress mounts. Many of us slowed down significantly during the pandemic, either because of illness or loss of work or social activities. Perhaps you’re struggling a bit to ramp back up to the pace of your life before the pandemic.

Don’t feel guilty if you’re struggling a bit with this.

During the times I’ve been away, and then returned to New York City, I’ve often wished there was some sort of “on ramp” to gradually get me back into the fast flow New York is so famous for. Well, there isn’t an on-ramp. But I have both yoga tools and aerial applications that help me manage bumpy transitions.

Let me share some yoga tools to help you ease back into your normal tempo.

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Intention-asana: How I teach Aerial Yoga differently than Aerial Acrobatics

Lately I’ve been fielding more and more questions about the difference between aerial silks (circus) and aerial yoga. For anyone who’s taken both types of well-taught classes the differences are usually pretty obvious, but it can sometimes be confusing for new students.

I teach both aerial yoga and aerial circus (in different classes). As a yoga instructor I am constantly thinking about intentions. “Why am I doing this pose?” As an aerial instructor I am constantly thinking about progressions. “How am I doing this skill?” Of course, there is definitely going to be some overlap in these two types of classes and these two questions, but there are many important differences as well.

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4 Yoga Hybrids You Might Want to Try

Even though we know our yoga practice will help us feel better both physically and mentally, sometimes our motivation and dedication slips due to the ups and downs of life.

It’s during these times we can turn to a yoga hybrid to inspire us. Since a yoga hybrid combines traditional yoga postures with something new, interesting and fun, the end result can spark our curiosity and re-ignite our desire to seek better health.

The Unnata community and our teachers love innovation and experimentation, which may be why Unnata can be found in many countries around the world.

Recently, Russia’s channel 5 news featured Unnata Aerial Yoga along with several other yoga hybrid classes in their article, “Cleansing Your Mind: how yoga helps and why is it so popular?” Some of the combinations are surprising!

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Prepare Yourself to Take an Aerial Yoga Class (Live or Virtual) Part 2

Our first article in this “prepare yourself to take an aerial yoga class” series explained how to manage the equipment, and some key terminology teachers use in class.

Great! You’re all ready for class, and now you are in the class. Here are a few additional tips to help you avoid those moments of awkward fumbling experienced anytime we learn a new activity. Feel like a pro from the get-go! Even though you’re at the beginning of developing your skills of using a hammock for yoga, you’ll love these insider secrets, and continue using them way past the brand new beginner phase of your learning curve.

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Prepare Yourself to Take an Aerial Yoga Class (Live or Virtual) Part 1

Congratulations! You’ve just signed up for your first aerial yoga class, or maybe you’ve purchased a home set up. You’re well on your way to feeling amazing.

But, wait! Don’t jump right in before taking a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the equipment, and some common terms the teacher will use. You don’t want to be lost on your first day, do you? Learn the language of aerial yoga, and you’ll get maximum benefit and enjoyment from the moment you touch the hammock. It’s like making sure you have all your school supplies before heading back to school.

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