If you were one of those kids who spent all of your playground time hanging upside down from the monkeybars, aerial yoga is the closest adult equivalent to that. If you weren't one of those kids (and trust me, I wasn't), you can still do aerial yoga – you'll just have to learn to trust your legs and a suspicious piece of fabric.
If you've ever gone to a regular yoga class, aerial yoga is kind of like that, but in a hammock. While you'll occasionally have a foot or a hand on the floor, every pose uses a giant fabric sling for stability. The sling, which is made of non-stretch silk (the same kind that Cirque du Soliel uses), hangs from one of the building's steel ceiling supports on steel bungees, O-rings and hardcore caribiners. All of the equipment is rated for 5000 lbs. of pressure, which means that once you're in the sling, you're not going anywhere.
The instructor, Tegan Croninger, started class by having us sit in the sling swingset-style. Once everyone was comfortable with that, we moved on to sitting completely in the sling cone-of-solitude style.
While breathing and focus are still important, aerial yoga is a little more exhilerating and playful than the regular kind of yoga. First of all, you spend the majority of the class with 85 percent of your body suspended 3 feet from the ground. Secondly, you get to fly like Peter Pan (a move that, while simple, is pretty difficult for those of us who are control freaks).Also, aerial yoga works all kinds of muscles – your arms, legs, and core will feel sore in a good way the next day.
Honestly, the letting go was the hardest part of aerial yoga. After the first few poses, I knew that the fabric wasn't going to magically escape from its rigging, but I still struggled to get my feet off of the floor. As strong as I know my legs are (thanks, roller derby!), there was a part of my brain that had a hard time trusting their ability to hold me upside down from a piece of fabric.
Apparently, though, learning to let go is one of aerial yoga's benefits. By the end of the class, I wasn't totally comfortable with my ability to flip over in mid-air, but I wasn't completely terrified of trying.
Tegan Croninger offers three variations of aerial yoga every week – Yogi's Flight (the class that I attended), Foundations of Flight (a fundamentals / basics class), and Flying Fitness. All of the aerial yoga classes at Give allow drop-ins ($15) but get there a little early to secure a sling.