The story of the Bhagavad Gita begins on the eve of a great battle. The honorable warrior Arjuna flies over the battlefield with the help of his charioteer Krishna, to survey the situation. Arjuna sees his friends and relatives on one side of the field, ready to fight and slay his friends and relatives on the other side of the field.
Arjuna knows his cause is righteous, and his enemies brought these circumstances on themselves. But victory in battle would mean murdering his own friends and relatives, and the thought weighs heavy on his heart. Struck with compassion for his foes, dismayed and unsure what to do, Arjuna asks advice from Krishna. Forge ahead? Or, quit now, before any bloodshed?
Arjuna’s inner battle reflects a struggle that many of us experience at the dawning of
a new year. Do we forge ahead on our same path with renewed enthusiasm? Or do we alter course and begin afresh with a new direction?
One of our favorite articles about Unnata Yoga appeared all the way back in 2006, in the healthy lifestyle website Lime.com!
We loved the fun ice cream yoga analogies the author conjured up, but were super happy that he didn’t miss the deeper point; that Unnata Yoga “remains true to yoga principles and focuses on finding inner peace.” And 13 years later that’s still 100% true.
We’ve recreated the article for easy reading — check it out below!
by Paul Freibott on June 8, 2006
Sometimes it seems that yoga’s the vanilla ice cream of the body/mind/spirit crowd—people can’t help themselves from sprinkling on their favorite toppings and swirling extras into the basic flavor. How else to perceive AcroYoga, Yogilates, and Cy-Yo, if not as the yogic versions of fudge ripple?
Yes, in Mysore, eyes would surely roll at comparing yoga to a frozen dessert, but in the U.S., yoga can be a delicious starting point for creativity. Just ask Aerial Yoga instructor Michelle Dortignac, who merged her background in dance, her training in the aerial circus art of tissu or “silks,” and her study of yoga at none less than the legendary Dharma Yoga Center in New York. The result: a hybrid form that remains true to yoga principles and focuses on finding inner peace.
How does one feel grounded, without actually being on the ground? “Gravity always works, and it always works in one direction,” Dortignac explains on her website. Students “have no choice but to learn proper alignment.” Aerial Yoga classes take place half on the floor, half “very close to the floor,” with the support of a soft cloth trapeze. Gravity’s effects surely make letting go easier—provided that cloth is tightly secured. According to Dortignac, Aerial Yoga not only helps students understand alignment, but also strengthens core muscles, increases spinal flexibility, avoids back strain, strengthens shoulders and increases shoulder flexibility, and “increases the amount of fun in your life!” Unlike the seemingly similar AcroYoga, which requires a comfortable inversion practice before starting, Aerial Yoga welcomes beginners.
My advice to vanilla yoga purists? Consider it an acquired taste, and take heart. At least it’s not the instant raspberry chai latte version of yoga.
Traveling through India at the moment, the enchanting chaos that strangely touches the deepest stillness within me that I keep on returning to year after year. It is much harder work than a holiday, but my curious and adventurous nature keeps me moving through this land rich in history, culture and myth, and the sacrifice is always worth it. Rickshaws, trains, bumpy roads, and a heavy backpack, all make an impact on my back, and really has me missing my aerial hammock. Headstands help, but are not quite the same.. the feeling of hanging from my ankles or hips, and allowing my whole body to lengthen and decompress is like no other.
Durante mis primeras prácticas de yoga escuchaba decir a mis maestros que Savasana era la postura más difícil y para mis adentros siempre pensaba: ¡venga ya! ¡que os he visto hacer el Escorpión! Pero la realidad era que cada vez que tenía que entrar en esta postura, tanto al principio como al final de la sesión de yoga, mi mente estaba más activa que nunca y era muy difícil encontrar ese estado de Savasana del que los maestros hablaban… o ¡me dormía! En cualquier caso, no conseguía mantener la conciencia de mi cuerpo y mente completamente relajados en esa entrega preciosa al presente.
During my first few yoga practices, I heard my teachers say that Savasana was the most difficult posture and to my inner self I always thought: Come on! I’ve seen you do Scorpion! But the reality was that every time I had to enter this posture, both at the beginning and at the end of the yoga session, my mind was more active than ever and it was very difficult to find that Savasana state that the teachers talked about… or I fell asleep! In any case, I couldn’t keep the consciousness of my body and mind completely relaxed in that precious surrender to the present.
Unnata founder Michelle Dortignac was recently interviewed for the September 2018 edition of British magazine “In The Moment, mindful ways to live your life well”.
Author Alice Whitehead writes of Unnata Yoga that “the hammocks are used in harmony with more traditional, static yoga poses, in a more yin style, to achieve proper posture through relaxation rather than effort.”
That’s a wonderful description; the author really understood the difference that Michelle has created with Unnata Yoga.
Michelle elaborates in the article, “I wanted to create a method that worked for the average person, not just for athletes. I don’t think of yoga and aerial yoga as being different from each other – we integrate floor and air and reap the benefits of both. The sensation of hanging gives lightness to the heart somehow. It brings me joy.”
Karma is an interesting word in today’s society, in that it can have two meanings:
1. luck or fate – something outside of our control
2. an action or situation that occurs as a direct result of actions we had previously made – something our actions inspired to occur, and therefore very much in our control
Even though the two common interpretations of karma could seem to be opposites of each other, it is my understanding they are actually two sides of one coin – the side we can see and the side that we can’t see. Karma is essentially the universe’s way of balancing out actions. Sometimes we experience the balance within our lifetime, and we can see the results of the seeds we have sown – good or bad. Sometimes, however, what we experience is partially the result of actions and deeds we did in a previous life, the effects of which simply took longer to come to fruition. Because our conscious minds may not be aware of what our souls did on a previous journey, the type of karma that comes to us from a previous lifetime can seem a bit unfair.
Recently, Michelle was interviewed by Erika Belanger of the On and Off Your Mat podcasts. In this interview, Michelle dives deep into what brought her to aerial yoga, how it has changed over the years, as well as some benefits and safety precautions.
Here is a link to the podcast episode on Erika’s blog: Podcast Episode 9: Are you up for Aerial Yoga?
And you can listen to the episode here:
In general, aerialists are told that combining aerial and pregnancy is a risky combo. Pregnancy is always at the top of the list of contraindications for class. But, there is very little information online (at the time of this publication) about exactly what is risky and what is not. The few blog posts by aerial acrobats describing their own experiences of training through their own pregnancies are anecdotal and mostly refer to acrobatics and not aerial yoga.
So, is it ever ok to use a hammock during pregnancy? What about labor? Let’s dive in to the stages of pregnancy, and use some common sense to examine what might help or harm expectant moms…