Written by Marie Covely
As I hung upside down, suspended from the ceiling, doing a fabulous impression of a piece of biltong, I pondered the thought “ahhhh so exercise can be fun!”
Welcome to Aerial Yoga! If you fancy yourself as a member of Cirque Du Soleil, or floating through the air like Tinkerbell, well this is for you.
Since being on my tour of Cape Town, learning about how you people ‘move,’ I fell across this mode of exercise that is something like you’ve never done before. Working with only a piece of fabric, you intertwine your body, allowing length and stretch in such a powerful way. You can achieve positions that would be a struggle working on the mat.
As you stare down at the floor, your thoughts aren’t “Oh my word, I feel like my muscles are going to explode.” The thoughts are much to the tune of “Oh my word, please don’t let me fall on my head.” So it’s a survival thing! However, this works, as you are forced to be none other than ‘present.’
When you take your body to that place of extreme, whatever your ‘extreme’ maybe, you feel stuff. I really mean you FEEL stuff. You will have an emotional release of some kind. Opening yourself up spiritually to the practice you have engaged in. “Ugghh,” I hear you all say as you roll your eyes, "you mean yoga, and all that being a vegetarian stuff, sitting under a tree and humming incessantly.” And I will respond by saying, no, not even close because weight training can access this state of awareness, so could hills sprints, even a step class! The mode is not really the issue, it’s your ‘extreme’ that you take it to and that’s a very personal thing. And working at that place will make you grow as an individual, never mind as a sportsperson. All of this gained through exercise?! Fabulous isn’t it!?
Now let’s not get it twisted. Extreme as in hospitalized, I would say that’s not it. Extreme, meaning, taking your body to that place while holding it in a place of love. Yes, now that could work for you. Oh no! She used the L word. The L word that many have abused and not may have used!
Taking your body to the extreme compassionately is what it’s all about. Try and refrain from throwing yourself around the place with a snapped hamstring, popped hip, holding the mentality that as long as you beat the person next to you is not doing the compassionate thing.
When taking the muscle to an ‘extreme’ stretch, firstly you observe the tightness in muscle. If you should find yourself gnawing at the corner of your mat beneath you, then yeah, I’d say that’s pretty tight and you’re most definitely working at your ‘extreme!’ If the muscle holds too much tension, that stretch can make you feel nauseous. This is a sure sign that you have negative emotions held in that place. For a muscle to hold emotion in the first place, it has to be tight. Therefore releasing the tension, will then in turn release some emotion thus bring the physical body back into a state of balance. Your body will tell you what it doesn’t need if you’re ‘present’ enough to listen.
When I first landed here I was cemented into my fitness routine like a concrete slab. I did my cardio and pilates on certain days, always in the same environment. I felt so stuck and stagnant that I was not really gaining any fulfillment. Part of my reason to move to Cape Town was to gain enlightenment through movement. I so deeply yearned for a journey of discovery on how you move the body and why, hence my sporadic burst into Aerial Yoga!
What I had to do is release the old routines, clear the space so that the new ones can come in. Throw out the old ‘you’ to make space for the new you.
So if you’re a runner, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, pounding the same old pavement, engaging in the same old routine, throw it out. Run, but run up a mountain or a trail. Give the body a new dynamic with which to work. The movement forward will only happen when you push yourself out of your comfort zone. Try new things! No fear!
My usual routine other than pilates, is a visit to the gym to buzz on a Powerplate for an hour, but no, I’m making efforts to welcome and embrace the new me. I, people, am going for a jog along the beach. The only thing I run for is last orders at the bar or for the sales!! None of which are happening right now so this is HUGE for me! But hey I’m doing it.
Think less about the workout it will give you and more about that journey of self discovery. You’re in what I can see, as the capital of mindful movement. There is so much here at your fingertips I could just burst with excitement! Love what you do, do what you love! Move that perfect vessel you call your body – every day!!
So let's join in ‘the movement.’ Venture into the unknown, embrace the new and run that mountain. Heard the views are fab!!