While the majority of the Boston College campus was being rudely awakened by their obnoxious alarm clocks and groggily making their treks to Lower to stand in the omelet line and snag some home fries, I was suspended upside down, hovering over my yoga mat.
When Ellen, the aerial yoga instructor at South Boston Yoga, coached us through our first inverted pose, I couldn’t help but break the silence with a laugh after flipping upside down, and reaching my pose. There we were, about 10 women in this upstairs yoga studio, suspended by red “slings or hammocks” hanging upside down, heads about a foot above the ground, legs spread open in straddles. Sorry, but the sight of us literally dangling from the ceiling was pretty comical.
Subsequently, the entire class started cracking up right along with me. There went the zen. My bad.
To say this wasn’t your typical yoga class is a bit of an understatement. Instead of bridge pose with my feet on the ground, they suspended in the air, resting on the sling. Rather than boat pose with my tailbone on the ground, it hovered about six inches off the ground, as we sat suspended in the air with our heels on the red slings, holding on with our hands. In Warrior One, my front foot wasn’t on the mat, it was in the sling; and, as I centered myself for shavasana, I wasn’t laying on the mat, I was laying wrapped in that beautiful red hammock.
When Ellen insisted that we “wiggle our fingers and toes, and begin to wake up our bodies” at the end of shavasana, I actually wanted to retaliate. I could have hung there all day. The degree of comfort, relaxation, and complete bliss was divine.
I must say the slings made for an interesting take on yoga. Is aerial yoga a good replacement for your typical Vinyassa flow? No. But it is an excellent practice to add to your routine. It challenges your balance, flexibility, and coordination in a new way. Many of the movements require much more core strength than is required by your basic yoga class. The slings also allow for pulling movements, meaning that it was more of a back and biceps workout than chest and triceps workout, as much of typical yoga is (think chaturanga). Furthermore, you’ve never had a hand workout like aerial yoga! Holding onto the sling required us to do some serious hand stretching afterwards! In fact, I won’t be surprised if my hands are sore tomorrow.
Today, it seems there are so many innovative ways to workout. In fact, with so many fun ways to workout, you’d be silly to hop on an elliptical for 30 minutes. What’s fantastic is that there is something for everyone. Check it out. If you’re a yogi looking to amp up your routine, you can try a class like aerial yoga. If you enjoy circuit training and more of a lifting style workout (both with weights and with bodyweight), then CrossFit is the thing for you. You say you’re a spinner? Then you’d better check out Soul Cycle, which adds upper body strength training while you push those pedals. More of a dancer? Take your pick: there’s the popular Latin fusion dance class, Zumba, pole dancing fitness (yes, pole dancing), and even Pure Barre, a workout designed around the traditional ballet bar. All of the above are designed for serious butt-kicking, and will have you far more entertained than that elliptical ever will!
So next time you’re feeling like you need to refresh your workout routine, check out some of these 2.0 workouts. Chances are, there’s a studio closer than you think, and who knows, maybe mid-workout, you’ll find yourself bursting out in laughter. Not a bad way to get in your exercise.