Aerial Yoga and the Art of Letting Go
"The moment you learn to let go, you realize you are actually more secure than when you held on." ~Whitney Kirk
I actually made this comment nonchalantly when teaching an aerial yoga posture one day in class, and realized that not only does it describe the practice so well, but also life. My name is Whitney Kirk and I stumbled upon aerial arts and yoga around 2008 after years of dance had taken a toll on my body. At first the aerial arts can be both daunting and exciting, but when I let go and truly delved into the training, I found where I was meant to be. Only a few years later, not only am I a certified hot yoga teacher and aerial arts instructor and performing aerial arts all over, but I am also leading AIR Aerial Yoga Teacher trainings from Alaska to Los Angeles. I discovered that the aerial yoga practice was a perfect melding of all of the things I held dear and I was so excited to share my passion with others.
For those of you who do not already know, aerial yoga is a melding of multiple fitness genres, including but not limited to, yoga, dance, Pilates, cardio, aerial arts and strength training. Like any form of yoga you are creating a moving meditation while strengthening, toning and also building flexibility. Yoga (and aerial yoga) is all about finding balance: physically, mentally, emotionally and for some even spiritually. In aerial yoga, the practitioner uses an aerial silk hammock, also known as an aerial sling, to assist in postures. Just as a yogi would use a prop like a block, blanket, strap or the wall, he uses the aerial hammock to help both simplify postures to make them more attainable and advance postures to a deeper expression or variation. For example, a student can use hammock suspension and bodyweight to help her stretch her muscles more deeply. Also, the hammock especially helps with inversions such as headstand, shoulder-stand and arm/forearm balancing, because the sling takes the pressure off of the shoulders, neck and head. The hammock can also be used to make balancing postures either easier or harder, depending on the class level. As a yogi’s practice develops, the hammock can be further used to fly and flip through the air for a whole new adventure! Like in any yoga practice the teacher will set a physical, mental or emotional focus for each class. I have found that one of the most beloved postures is the floating shavasana at the end of my classes. The aerial hammock, as a cocoon, contours more perfectly to the student’s body and allows deep meditation, relaxation and reflection at the end of each class.
If this blog sparked your interest and you want to let go, try something new, are interested in Aerial Yoga Teacher Training, or just want come further your practice with me, you can check out my website at www.whitneykirk.com for my complete class schedule and studio locations. Circus arts and aerial yoga have helped me take my dance background and yoga practice to new heights and have helped me see the world from a new angle, but it all started with me letting go and being willing to try something new, look silly sometimes, and have a lot of fun. I hope this blog inspires my readers to take the same leap of faith, find something you are interested in and jump on it even if it scares you a little. Do not wait until tomorrow to take that plunge, because you may discover your new passion!