By: AJ Crowell, Publisher, Dallas Yoga Magazine
Photography By: Chloe Saltarelli
Have you ever been to Cirque Du Soleil and watched the people flying through the air and think…WOW….that looks like fun? Then you will love Aerial Yoga! It is one of the newer yogas around and it is growing in popularity quickly. It began a little over a decade ago and wasn’t taken very seriously. Most people thought it was a phase and would eventually fade out. But that has not proven to be the case. Instead, Aerial yoga fitness has been on the rise and continuing to do so in cities across America.
During Aerial Yoga you utilize a hammock or “silk” that hangs from the ceiling in a loop. You don’t have to be concerned about it breaking it’s made from a highly durable nylon and holds thousands of pounds.
I stopped by Vertical Fitness Dallas and met Karen Palmer, the owner who implemented not only Aerial Yoga in her studio but also Pole Fitness. She was one of the first to start a business featuring poles in 2008. When I asked her how she had the idea to open such a unique studio concept, she smiled. She explained, “I was a bored and unhappy housewife and saw pole fitness on television, so I ordered one and put it in my house. My husband thought I was crazy. But I watched the DVDs and continued to practice and I got better at it.” She convinced her friends to come over and try it.
She laughed and said, “Can you imagine almost 10 years ago trying to tell people I was doing Pole Fitness? They had all kinds of stereotypes in their head about pole dancers. I had to teach people what it really was.”
Eventually Karen was divorced and had to start her life over with very little finances. She explained, “I had three poles and I went to fitness centers, gyms…everywhere and no one was interested in letting me set up Pole Fitness. I was depleted and I went to literally the last place I could go to and it’s the place we are in right now. I explained what I wanted to do and Mike Nimon told me he would give it a try at his gym Power Play Fitness. He believed in me and gave me a shot.”
Karen began with her three poles and then eventually that led to the hammocks and the silks and the incorporation of Aerial Yoga. She is now has two locations and sponsors competitions and showcases. Karen shares, “The classes are about self-empowerment and confidence both inside and out.”
When I asked Karen if I could write an article on Aerial Yoga, I was so excited when she asked me to attend one of the classes. I was a little worried because it looked hard, but I showed up ready to go. Stephanie Thompson was the instructor with Marianne Ellington as her teacher in training. I arrived early to talk to Stephanie since I was a neophyte and she had me try out the silks before everyone arrived. Within 3 minutes, I was upside down hanging with my legs supporting me wrapped in the silks. I was instantly hooked!
The class began with Stephanie asking everyone to say their intention or anything positive and then we began. Immediately I realized because I don’t have to balance myself and the silks supported me I could stretch a lot further so I had to be careful not to over stretch. After I got comfortable, it was amazing. I learned to let go of my fears and do as Stephanie instructed. I had to trust myself and found myself hanging off the ground frontwards, backwards and upside down. I had no idea this would involve such deep stretching and relaxation.
At the end of class, and this maybe the best part, you climb into your hammock and it becomes a little cocoon. You are suspended and floating from the ceiling and gently rocking back and forth. Stephanie then led a guided meditation in the most amazing Shavasana. I wanted to stay floating in my relaxation hammock when she ended, but I had to slowly free myself from my cocoon. I felt as if I was a butterfly just opening up to the outside world. Now I understand why Karen encourages others to participate and “Discover your strength, grace and power!” I felt EMPOWERED!
My advice to anyone who wants to try it, you can do it! Just sign up and go for it. The teacher will assist you and guide you the entire way. If you don’t want to do something, then they will modify it for you. It’s relaxing and exhilarating at the same time and it’s an experience you don’t want to miss. Feel like a butterfly!
Photography By: Chloe Saltarelli
Vertical Fitness Locations:
Power Play Fitness
6090 Campbell Road Suite 136, Dallas 75248
(Campbell & Preston Rd.)
4101 Centurion Way, Addison 75001
(Midway & Arapaho)