My New Obsession: Aerial Silks

Oh my! Is April over already? Typical of me to drop the ball and reject this blog after I committed to writing regularly again. School, work, home, blah blah blah. I dropped the ball. End of story.  My apologies.  Let's  try this again...

A lot has happened in the last three months, but I won't bore you with that.  So I'll jump right into my new obsession.

Over a year  ago, I found out aerial yoga and aerial silk.  I saw a video of these women gracefully and flawlessly moving on the silks that were suspended from the ceiling. It looked heavenly!  I didn't make it to my first class until this past Saturday when I discovered that they taught Aerial Silks classes in Studio 9 which was 15 minutes away from me.

The first thing I learned was that  Aerial Silks and Aerial Yoga were two totally different things. Aerial Yoga was birthed when a yoga instructor and an acrobat looked for ways to challenge a yoga class using silks.  In Aerial Yoga, it's basically doing the same ground yoga positions on the silk, in the air.  It takes more effort to stabilize yourself on the silk.  Aerial Silks have been used in the circus (think Cirque du Soleil), theater, and dance.  In an Aerial Silks class, you work on progression and sequences, how to lock yourself in the silk, climb up, roll down, swing, and so on.  I'd say that it's a form of dance.  

The next thing I learned was, "You will get some bruising tomorrow. Don't worry, it's perfectly normal."  My instructor smiled as she told me this and summoned me to a beautiful long purple silk cloth dangling from the ceiling 16 feet above us. 
Oh... but how can these beautiful silks bruise me, I thought.  I would find out soon enough.

When you look at Aerial Silk videos, you will see that the silks are parallel to each other, not tied together.  For the beginner class I took, the instructor tied the ends of the silk together creating a swing to hold me.  First, she made me get acquainted with the silks.  She showed me how to position myself.  Where to position the silk on my back, where to put my hands, and how to lean back on the silk and fall backward so that I was upside down- feet apart, legs hip level, parallel to the ground.  She told me that unlike yoga, my feet had to be pointed (nailed it!!!).

Then she said, "Ok, the silk will hold you, so you can let your hands go."  Excuse me?  Just hang upside down without my hands?  "Are you sure?" I asked. 

"Yes, just make sure your legs stay straight and wide apart like this by your hips, and your toes are pointed.  Otherwise you will flop down."

Nervously laughing, I asked, "Can I just focus on getting this form down before I let go?"

"Of course, I want you to be comfortable," she said.

LESSON TO YOU: When trying a new class, NEVER EVER EVER be embarassed to ask if you can modify a move, or take it slow, or have the instructor show you the move again.

My instructor adjusted the knot on my silk because my head was too close to the ground.  I practiced getting on and off the silk on my own, making sure the knot was rested just where my coccyx bone was, and flipping upside down, feet wide, by my hips, parallel to the ground, feet pointed.  Hanging on to the silk with my dear hands as if my life depended on it.  Mind you, I was only a few feet away from the ground.

Once she saw I have gotten a hang of... well, hanging upside down, she said, "You got it!  Let's try letting go again.  Give me one hand at a time."

I gave her one hand.  Waited.  And then, took my hand back from her.  "I'm not ready yet!"

She didn't push me any more and moved on to get us warmed up and stretched.  Like any workout, warm ups and cool down is important.  We stretched our lower body using the silks while being on the ground.  Then she showed us how to stand on the swing, one foot on, the other foot on the ankle of the one on the swing, the knee for that foot in front of the silk and then letting our arms open up.  It was freeing!!   After a few more stretches, we stood on the silk with both feet and stretched our lower back (see picture).

Two more things I learned about silks: 1- your feet arches will hurt from standing on the knot; 2- your hands will hurt from gripping the silks.

We went back to hanging upside down.  I felt comfortable enough to wrap my legs around the silk while upside down.  On one of my tries, without any prompting, I let go of the silks and dropped my hands. 

She also showed us how to fold forward on the silk, with the silk resting just below our hip.  Once we got a hang of doing this, she showed us how to flip around so that we are on our back again and moving to the upside down position we've been working on.  That was my favorite part.  And I felt comfortable with the silks by that time that I stayed in the upside down position, hands off of the silk, and my legs wrapped around the silk.  I could have spent my whole day swinging and flipping on those silks.  BUT just like that, the hour was over. Where did the time go?!??!?

She walked us through leg and spine stretches on the ground.  We also worked on our wrists and flicked our fingers open and close.  

I'll be honest.  When she said it was time to stretch, I thought, "Bummer, that wasn't really a workout."  I thought we'd be doing more.  Aside from my hands hurting from gripping the silks, my sides and back from leaning on the silks, and my feet from stepping on the knot, I didn't feel like my muscles were worked out at all.

Fast forward to Saturday night- I started feeling it on my shoulders, arms, legs, sides.  The next day I noticed very slight bruising on my sides (by my hips), under my belly button, and on my thighs.  Nothing too bad.  I definitely did work my muscles, too, because my body ached when I woke up on Sunday.  I shouldn't have underestimated what I did and taken my muscle recovery drink after class.

MY VERDICT:  IT WAS FUN!  So much so that time flew so quickly and I didn't even think I was working out.  It felt like we were just hanging out and playing around with the silks!!!!  I will definitely go again. Unfortunately, one class is $20.  They have a package which is 4 classes for $70 or monthly unlimited classes (including their pole dancing classes) for $100. I don't plan on trying pole dancing any time soon and I can really only go to the Saturday morning class.  So I will probably just purchase the 4 class package.

My first Aerial Silks class was like an amazing first date and all I've been thinking about is the amazing feeling I felt flipping and hanging upside down.  I'm smiling thinking about it. I highly recommend that you give it a try!

Until next time...

Dare to be fit!

<3 Marie 

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