July 08, 2015

Five Feathers of Aerial Yoga by Donald Gecewicz

1. Balance
We rely much on the floor remaining where it is and on distributing our weight upon it on our two feet and, sometimes, a hand. Even Warrior 3 is bound to the floor. Black silk changes that relationship and re-balances. I like to swing wrapped in the “pod” at the end, feeling my ears and the little bones in the ears re-calculating balance and equilibrium. Once back on the floor, and in floor positions, I find that my balance is reset and refined.

And here’s a haiku
like any pose balancing
on slim fingertips.

2. Strength
In floor work, we both become strong and experience our strength through standing still. Standing still is a sensation with much meaning, given how unsettled everything is. Aerial involves more movement—but movement that is strengthening because it is steady. Hefting the body. Testing the arms. Lifting yourself up. Using the hips to pivot slowly. Muscles engage differently from positions on the floor, and the body becomes toned differently.

The daily forces
hold us up but wrist locks
unlock new strengths

3. Harmony
In Chinese poetry, a poem harmonizes with another if it reflects the tones of the words and the structure of the rimes. The poses in the air harmonize with poses on the floor. We are familiar with being dogs, warriors, and birds on the ground. Insight comes as we reconfigure the pose while suspended. A tree on a cliff, a dancer mid-leap, a tiger climbing. The poses in the air test muscles in a new way. It’s good to go from floor to mid-air, from aerial yoga to more traditional floor work, harmonizing the two styles. Hovering also realigns the skeleton, sometimes with a crackle toward symmetry.

That stork hovering
above the shining wood
may be me, airborne.

4. Antigravity
Aerial yoga is an easy experiment to feel what else supports us: Our arms suspended, our feet wrapped in cloth, the air itself, our hips and legs pointed up rather than down. Even if only a few feet off the ground, aerial positions alter our body’s anticipation of heft and perception of weight. We also feel, again, that air has mass. We slide and glide within the air as birds do. I am reminded of a Thai carving that I have of a hamsa, the sacred swan. The flight of the hamsa symbolizes moksha or nirvana--release. All that, and a good workout.

to arrive at perception
that there is no down

5. Learning to Fly
If you have misgivings about flipping over and remaining suspended, the way to dispel hesitancy is to do it. It enhances health to experience a minor fear melting away. Doing yoga with winged feet makes me a better airline passenger, a better flyer. I have felt my own body cutting the air, much as an airplane does. So there is a practical, psychic benefit.

That flight to Zurich
chocolates and levity:

cloudless, so much light.