Hanging Out: Aerial Yoga in HMSA’s Island Scene Magazine

Chance ‘Em |  Fall 2013 IS Magazine

Hanging Out: Aerial Yoga

Working with gravity instead of fighting it

By Fernando Pacheco

Article artI had just returned from a Mainland tour with my band, which means I’d been sleeping on floors and couches for two weeks. Being curled up in a van for hours on end used to be fine when I was in my 20s. But now I’m in my mid-30s and the body aches don’t go away as easily. So less than 24 hours after landing on O‘ahu, I visited the Still & Moving Center in Honolulu to realign my body with aerial yoga.

What’s aerial yoga? Imagine doing yoga in a silk hammock. Instead of stretching the hammock between two trees, the ends are bunched together at one anchor point, like a silk cocoon.

Important: People with any type of heart condition, high blood pressure, glaucoma, or a fused spine should not try aerial yoga. And, as always, check with your doctor before starting a new physical activity.

My instructor was Marta Czajkowska, who started me off hanging by my shoulders. This allowed me to gradually trust the hammock with my weight (their hammocks can hold up to 2,000 pounds). After doing a few rotations from my shoulders, I began doing stretches with one foot in the hammock and the other still planted on the floor. We gradually moved the hammock up to my knee and then to my inner thigh, shifting more weight to the hammock. Before I knew it, I was doing a movement completely off the floor.

Czajkowska would make minor adjustments in my movements. She’d reposition a leg or arm and I could feel different muscles being activated. I hung in a brief meditative state before she asked, “Are you ready to go upside down?” “Sure,” I replied hesitantly.

After a quick demonstration, she guided each of my limbs around the purple silk until I was upside down. I glanced at myself in the studio mirrors. Not quite as graceful as a Cirque du Soleil performer, but I was still proud of myself. As I hung there and let my spine straighten out, I could feel the benefit of working with gravity rather than against it. But when it was time to come back up, I had to use every barely existent core muscle I have.

After a cool down, Czajkowska taught me about the muscles I had just used and suggested that I drink lots of water and take a hot shower to help prevent muscle aches the next day. As I left, I could feel myself walking taller, flushed of the kinks and toxins from my recent travels.

Note to self for the next tour – pack my trombone, some clean socks, and a big silk hammock. 

Island Scene Online is not intended to replace the advice of health care professionals. Please consult your physician for your personal needs and before making any changes in your lifestyle.

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