If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that for the past month or so I’ve been trying to practice yoga. As a self-proclaimed balance-challenged individual, and as someone who has a really, really hard time “finding her inner calm,” yoga was never exactly my cup of tea. I looked at yogis the same way I looked (ok, still look) at runners: good for them, not for me. But as I started practicing at home (another shout-out to Yogi Adrienne) I was feeling more confident in my yoga abilities, my mind was calmer, and the thought of taking my skills into a public class seemed less scary. Enter Aerial Yoga.
It all started when a coworker (and friend) was in-town last week. She mentioned how stiff she was feeling after her long flight to NYC from LA, and threw out the idea of taking an aerial yoga class to stretch out a bit. My ears perked up. “Aerial yoga?” I said “that could be interesting…” Still off the booze and eager for a non-bar related activity, I quickly told her I’d join, and we invited another coworker/friend along for the ride (the same friend who got me into Yoga with Adrienne!) $25 and a walk across the street from our office to Om Factory, and we were ready for our Aerial Yoga class.
For those of you who have been wondering “WTF is she talking about, what is aerial yoga?” in short, aerial yoga is where a large, silk hammock hangs from the ceiling of a yoga studio (our class had about 15 hammocks), that are suspended so the bottoms are a few inches from the ground. A yoga mat rests underneath, and props such as a blanket and yoga blocks were nearby. The practice boasts increased flexibility and relaxation, and offers a fun twist on classic yoga. Depending on the class, various yoga poses are performed, including inversions, where part or all of your body may be suspended in the air. Talk about a head rush! Our particular class was a “restorative” 75 minute session, where no pose was too extreme, but was held for 3 to 5 minutes.
I really wish I had been able to take photos of myself and friends while we were suspended in positions that made me think I was at my gynecologist's office. We started off slow, but quickly switched to what seemed to be never-ending hip openers, where our thighs were spread-eagle in the air, while our hips were (somewhat uncomfortably) being held up by the silk hammock digging/resting on my skin while my head and shoulders plunged into the earth below me. As I deeply questioned whether or not my hammock could hold me, or if I’d be the first one ever to break through the silk (it’s weighted up to 2000 lbs–clearly we are all fine), it was a bit tricky to “find my focus.” There were stretches with the silk that allowed for further movement than normal, but I have a hard time relaxing with such slow movements (other aerial yoga classes offer a faster-paced yoga style). The last move involved “cocooning” ourselves; where our entire body is enveloped in the silk hammock, your body is outstretched, and you gently sway side to side. As my body gently rocked, I was slowly able to tune out the sounds of midtown, embrace the weird, and start to relax. And then the class was over.
Overall, I’d say aerial yoga was a positive experience, if for no other reason than I got to see my friends in ridiculous positions (did I mention I couldn’t stop laughing?). My inner thighs have NEVER felt so stretched out, and I did enjoy the vibe of it all (fancy yoga classes are niceeeee). I think I’d certainly try it again, but opt for a more classic-yoga style class, instead of something slower paced. Have any of you out there tried aerial yoga? What was your experience like?
Let me know what I should try next in the comments below!
I made it! As of yesterday, I’ve successfully completed my second Whole 30 and 31 Days of Yoga Revolution. Not to be all “wow, I’m so proud of myself, look at how great I am” blah blah crap, but honestly, it feels pretty good to know that I was able to successfully do both.
Despite my hesitations going into yoga (refer to this previous post), I think I’m sort of into it now. Not to say that I’ll be going on yoga retreats or constantly referring to my third eye, but I genuinely feel more relaxed and stress-free, and even in just 30 short days, I’ve noticed a huge improvement in my flexibility and stability. But past the physical effects, I also gained something I hadn’t really thought about before–30-40 minutes of peaceful “me” time every. single. day. It’s so easy in life, at least for me, to get caught up in everything else going on in the day–projects at work, supporting friends, taking care of pets, entertaining dates–the list goes on. But it’s important to remember that you’ve got to be the number 1 in your life, and self-care is incredibly important. Maybe that means treating myself to a manicure, taking a fancy workout class, or finally getting a blow out, but for the past 31 days, it meant showing up for myself to do a little yoga. It was a time I set aside just for me everyday, and while some days had to get skipped (and made up for later!) I did my best to show up. I mean, I practiced in my bedroom, so really, no excuses.
It’s funny how much Whole 30s can vary from one to another. I remember during my first one trying all sorts of weird recipes (such as a cashew “alfredo” sauce-some things really need dairy), and constantly looking at what day it was in the 30. I always had a count-down to the end, even though I was feeling good. For this Whole 30, I stuck to recipes that felt a bit more comfortable and classic, such as Pizza Spaghetti Pie and Paleo Meatballs (I guess I was feeling Italian this month?) and relied more heavily on having easy to eat fruit and veggies around (and of course, prosciutto) to fill in the gaps when I didn’t have a full meal planned. For most of this Whole 30, I had no idea which day I was on. I had more energy and focus than last time (thanks yoga!), but my bits of insomnia that I battled last time crept back in, too (anyone else have this on W30?) But I had my hard moments–days 20-25 were filled with a massive sugar craving, and losing my desire to eat anymore meat. And I’m not going to lie, all I wanted the day of the inauguration was a large vat of wine and a rich chocolate cake. But as any Whole 30er will tell you, not having these things won’t kill you. I didn’t die because I couldn’t have a drink on an awkward date, and not being able to bake for a month didn’t cause me wild distress either. I think they call that discipline, kids.
So what’s the takeaway? Am I just going to go eat all the bagels I can find and drink until Trump isn’t president anymore? Duh, no. Physically and mentally I feel better than I have in a while. And I wasn’t going to say it, but screw it, it’s my blog–I lost 14 lbs since January 3rd, and DAMN does that feel good! W30 emphasizes the importance of not weighing yourself during the 30 days, and while I was feeling better, I didn’t really think I lost any weight. Not that a number should be the only factor in determining success, but it does put a very superficial reward on what you feel internally. So far I haven’t eaten anything non-Whole 30, but I am going out tonight, and brunching tomorrow. I don’t want to fall too far off the wagon, but I’m ok with occasional splurges with friends or for special occasions, and I’m going to stick with paleo-ish at home (paleo baking is happening in the near future). I’ve also started another 30 day yoga series (30 is apparently the ideal timeframe for me), and I’m looking forward to continuing my practice. We all know that change takes time, but I feel really good about the changes I’ve been able to make for myself since the start of the year, and I encourage you to reward yourself for the changes you make for yourself, too. In a time of a lot of uncertainty, remember you’ve only got yourself to owe up to, so do it for you! Tell me what you’ve done for yourself lately! Take a class? Learn something new? In the next blog I’ll tell you how my first aerial yoga class went...stay tuned!
I don’t always (read: almost never) find yoga relaxing. There, I said it. I know it’s about breathing, connecting to your inner self, finding your chakras, blah blah blah, but for me, it’s often more about trying to balance not falling on my face with overworking my mind to find “calm.” When a yoga instructor says to clear your mind, let all those thoughts drift away, are there people out there that can actually do that? If anything that suggestion refocuses me on my stressors of the day. And for all the marbles in the world, can someone tell me how you actually balance on your head? And then please tell me you find that relaxing.
Ok, so why am I talking about yoga? Because I signed up for a 31 day “REVOLUTION” of yoga, of course! Bet you didn’t see that coming (well, unless you read my post from the other day)! Adrienne is a highly-followed online yoga instructor based out of Austin, Texas, and offers FREE yoga class videos on YouTube. Say the word “free” and I’m already practically there. Adrienne’s YouTube page is filled with a variety of different yoga classes, from short videos for when you’re on the road, to a small series focused on weight loss. But a friend of mine mentioned the 31 day “Revolution” that was starting January 1st, and knowing that I could successfully commit to doing something for 30 days (and would align with my Whole 30), a 31 day “challenge” seemed doable. Even if I was still dubious of yoga.
So why’d I pick yoga if I keep complaining about it? The last round of Whole 30 I paired aggressively with the gym. I’d hit the treadmill and weights regularly each week, but found the repetition to be getting old. It’s also getting a bit chilly here in NYC, and the thought of not having to leave my house to get some exercise in really appealed to me. I’ve done various workout tapes in the past, and still go to those when I’m looking for something higher energy (this and this are my favs, while this one makes me strongly dislike all “dance” type workout videos, and really question Tracey Anderson). But I was craving something a little calmer, something that would make me feel really connected to my body, to the calmness I was bringing by cutting out processed foods from diet. I wanted...YOGA.
Now I’ve just completed Day 4, and minus a minor back injury (did I mention I’m clumsy?), I have to say, I don’t hate it. Adrienne minimizes the hippy-dippy language, and balances the breathing portions with moves that feel more pilates-ish than yoga. I’ve tried various yoga classes (in person-where I left after the instructor started balancing on her head, and online) before, but so far this seems to be the winner of them all. At least for now.
Has anyone out there recently picked up a new workout routine, or can suggest a new one for me to try? I want to hear from you!