Top 3 Reasons Why I Love Unnata Aerial Yoga (and Why You Might, Too)!

AssistedCobra

Of course as the creator of Unnata Aerial Yoga, I’m going to be a bit biased. Nevertheless, my passion for the practice is still strong even 17 years later! Let me share with you why…

There’s so much to love about aerial yoga in general – the warm, comforting sensation of being wrapped in your own cocoon, the ability to practice deep backbends without strain, the awesome core workout which makes you feel strong and capable…

How is it possible to ask for more?

Believe it or not, most yoga aficionados will tell you there actually is more to a yoga practice than the physical sensations, no matter how wonderful they may be! All of the postures and movements in a yoga class are meant to also direct the body’s energy, and train the mind.

To this regard, yoga is actually much more of a whole-person practice than what many other movement modalities and sports are aiming for.

And, this leads me to my first top reason why I love Unnata Aerial Yoga…

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How To Dance Through Life

I’m not even sure how I came to this position on my journey in life. Whether I was placed here due to the fallout from pandemic disruptions, or if I would have wound up arriving to this same spot, anyway. In any case, I am on the verge of moving to a different city, in a different state, one where I have no relatives, no friends, no job, and I am considering the fact that I will indeed be starting over – establishing a new home, a new community, an entirely new life.

The idea of this move is both exciting and terrifying at the same time. On the one hand, there is potential to better my situation in many ways – perhaps I’ll be able to find a living situation with more space. Perhaps I’ll be able to create a daily routine that doesn’t require moving at such a fast pace as what New York City demands. Perhaps I’ll be able to create an income that will stretch further in a smaller sized city.

But with every big unknown, there is potential for both pleasant and unpleasant surprises. And although I have eagerly jumped into adventures in the past full of youthful optimism, at the age of 53, I’ve lost those rose-colored glasses. And so I also worry. Will I be able to re-create enough work in a new place? Will I even like the new city and its citizens?

So often, I look to ancient yoga texts to find some perspective and words of wisdom. And although I don’t have a specific story, the symbol of Nataraja is a perfect representation for times when you feel like you are starting over.

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Aerial Yoga Magazine, Who Knew?

Hey, did you know there is a whole magazine called, Aerial Yoga? I didn’t. But this summer, the magazine’s founder and creator, Camille, contacted me for an interview. She asked some fantastic questions, and the whole article just came out. It looks really good!

Way back when I started Unnata Yoga, aerial yoga as a yoga method didn’t exist. Yes, some yogis centuries ago hung from trees, and even decades ago yogis began to hang from ropes and hammocks. But all that time, trees, ropes and hammocks were used more as a way to prepare for the yoga asana class, not to be used throughout and as the yoga asana class.

Well, all that changed once aerial yoga captured the general public’s imagination. And, pioneering yoga teachers like myself contributed to the development of what has now (16 years later!) become an entire method for practicing yoga. Aerial yoga classes can be found in almost every city, and there are numerous places to purchase aerial yoga hammocks for at-home use, too.

Fast forward to 2020, and now there’s an online journal called “Aerial Yoga Magazine.”

If you’re interested in reading the interview, or the magazine in general, check them out at: AerialYogaMagazine.com

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Move

Photo by Nic Y-C on Unsplash

Do you move fluidly through life, inspired? Do you have to force yourself to move when you feel stuck? Or maybe you move so rapidly it’s difficult to hold yourself back!

Movement is essential to life. Even while standing still or sleeping, the body is in constant motion: the breath moves, blood moves, the brain sends and receives signals in connection with the organs, muscles and glands. It’s impossible not to move.

Move. It rhymes with groove. And sounds like smooth. When you find your groove, life is smooth, and it’s easier to move.

Motion. It rhymes with ocean. And potion. And lotion. The ocean is in constant motion. Potions and lotions help stuck or dry things return to fluid motion.

What is the difference between move and motion?

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To Speak Or Not To Speak, That Is The Yoga Teacher’s Question

What is my goal as a yoga teacher?

I’ve asked this question and answered it in different ways throughout my 15 year career teaching yoga. At this moment my answer is to HELP – to help students turn inward toward their true self, joining the path of yoga, and to share my practice and experience from my place on this path. 

In this blog post I would like to offer some thoughts that I’ve had about the role of speech in helping students walk their path. These thoughts have come out of my own recent experience of teaching yoga in English (which is not my native language) and joining a new yoga community in Seattle. I am very grateful to John, my friend and yoga buddy who inspired me and helped me to structure this post.

We all aspire as yoga teachers to speak and explain well. What does this mean in practice? Fundamentally, to speak and explain well you need a pleasant voice, broad vocabulary, clear enunciation, and knowledge of a language that is understandable to students. Equally important is the ability to speak competently of yoga and anatomy. All of these elements are rather obvious and many teachers possess these skills.

There are, however, speech elements that transform our teaching from valuable to priceless.
 
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Smoothly Add Beginners into a Mixed Level Class

There are so many different ways to set up and run aerial yoga classes. There’s no one perfect method for everyone. Today, I’ll dive into a question I often get asked by new teachers, “Should I have a separate class for beginners?”

Before diving in, I want to emphasize that in this article I’m writing about aerial yoga, specifically. In my studio, Aerial Fit of Charleston, SC, we typically take beginners in a mixed level class, but only for aerial yoga, not for aerial circus.

The reason why we need a separate class for beginners when we teach aerial circus, is because those classes are focused on learning how to use the aerial apparatus for fitness and artistic expression. We use more of a nuts and bolts approach where you learn the basics of the apparatus first, and then you build on those skills. That means beginners have a lot to learn! But, once they’ve learned the foundations, they’ll be quickly ready to build on them. Having a class focused on getting beginners up to speed, just makes sense for aerial circus.

The reason we feel comfortable putting beginners into a mixed level class for aerial yoga, is because in aerial yoga classes we’re focused on yoga, not aerial. Since yoga is a mind-body practice, and the hammock is simply a prop we use to enhance the postures, that means much of the focus of the class is on the internal experience. In aerial yoga, someone gets more advanced by going deeper inward, not by getting into fancier postures. So, I find it is possible to teach a beginner and a more experienced student at the same time, and to cue the more advanced student in a way that’s accessible to anyone ready to go deeper.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean it is easy to do! Mixing beginners with more experienced students presents many challenges, so let’s dive into them…

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The Ground Is Still There When You’re In the Air


Photo by Olena Sergienko on Unsplash

When you take yoga classes, frequently you hear the term, “grounding.” Which, is an instruction given anytime students are asked to press down into the ground and connect to the Earth.

The term may at first appear to be a simple direction to coordinate students’ movement and to help them lengthen their spines. But, yoga positions affect us in many ways beyond strengthening and stretching muscles, beyond creating beautiful sculptural shapes.

Any sort of physical grounding correlates with a “mental grounding” as well.

WHAT IS MENTAL GROUNDING?

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New Series: Language of Metaphor

New video series alert! The Language of Metaphor

Definition: A metaphor is a figure of speech that describes an object or action in a way that isn’t literally true, but helps explain an idea or make a comparison. (Grammarly.com)

In this series of short videos, Michelle demonstrates how we can use the hammock and a little imagination to help students dive even deeper into images, and layers of meaning each asana can hold, in order to assist their journey inward. More videos to be added, soon!

To watch and subscribe to our YouTube channel, click here: The Language of Metaphor Playlist

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Do Setbacks Really Set Us Back?

It happens to all of us. The idea for a project arrives, we devise a comprehensive plan for its completion, we work diligently to achieve it, and SLAM! A wall stands in our way, stopping our progress.

Sometimes the walls that confront us are short enough and small enough to climb over, dig under, or walk around. But sometimes the walls are insurmountable, and we abandon the project. No matter the size of the wall, we need to make a decision about if and how we continue. How do we make this decision? How do we find the motivation to reach our goals when we encounter obstacles or setbacks? Personally, I like to use metaphors to help me through these decisions.

Let’s try an example together!

Okay. So, we’re on our way toward achieving some goal, and then, WHAM! We experience difficulties.

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Michelle and Aerial Yoga a Good Fit for Verywell Fit Article

Did you know Michelle Dortignac, founder of Unnata® Aerial Yoga, continues to be the leading expert on aerial yoga? On a regular basis, we here at aerialyoga.com get requests from news sources all over the world to contribute as the “industry expert” on all aspects of aerial yoga. And, Michelle is always happy to help educate and inspire.

Most recently, Michelle was invited by Verywell Fit to weigh in on topics such as: the benefits of aerial yoga, the pros and cons of aerial yoga at home vs. at a studio, what to look for in an aerial yoga studio and even how to begin an aerial yoga practice.

Here’s an excerpt from the article…

“At its core, an aerial yoga class guides you through the same types of yoga positions you experience in a traditional yoga class,” says Michelle Dortignac, founder of Unnata Aerial Yoga. “The difference being that the hammock offers support at key places, allowing you to spend more time in a position, and adjust your alignment.”

According to their website, Verywell Fit “uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles.” Seeing as our main mission for Unnata Aerial Yoga is to maintain high standards and high value, we support Verywell Fit’s mission and the general news industry as much as we can! Just like the yoga hammock supports the yoga student.

Want to know why alignment is so important for yoga? How about the pros and cons to aerial yoga at home vs. at a studio? Read the full article here.