Joy Dio is Wellington's only aerial yoga instructor - a form of exercise that's taking off in the US and UK, but is virtually unknown in New Zealand.
"I did my very first Aerial Yoga class in San Francisco in 2008 when it first came out. I loved it," Dio explains.
When Dio moved to Wellington she wanted to introduce it to the city to bring something new to the wellbeing landscape.
Having taught various forms of yoga for years, Dio said she found her calling with aerial yoga.
"A yoga practice that was fun, different, creative, always beautiful and full of grace."
Our intrepid reporter Aimee Gulliver gets hoisted up in a harness all in the name of fitness ...
I agreed to do an aerial yoga class before I knew what it was.
Et voila, a few minutes into the experience I'm doing a pose called the monkey (or the spiderman, depending on what you do with your feet). I'm hanging upside down, head centimetres from the floor, connected to the hammock only by my legs being wrapped around it - hang on ...
Next thing - the whole class are lying in the hammocks in a tabletop pose. We're then told to backflip out of them.
The instructor Joy makes it look easy, and one by one my fellow aerial yoga enthusiasts flip right over and out of their hammocks, dismounting gracefully on the floor.
I decide to hope for the best and attempt the same manoeuvre, figuring that at least I'm close to Wellington Hospital if it all goes seriously wrong.
Another surprise - I land on my feet. With a bit more of a thunk and a bit less grace than the other participants, but my head doesn't meet the floor, and I'm chalking that up as a win.
(It should be mentioned that there is an "opt out" move if you don't fancy trying one of the poses, but they all proved easier than they looked.)
We also use the hammocks as swings, which is what I seem to have the most, perhaps a bit too much, skill with - harking back to my playground days when a cousin told me that if I went high enough I would go over the top of the bar. That wasn't the intention here, so once I settle down to a more acceptable level of swinging for an indoor studio, I'm back in business for more stretching.
We end the class back in the cocoon, but being worms this time. Again, I don't like to brag, but I was pretty good at the worm. So good that it was lucky I knew the person in the next hammock, because she copped a few kicks when I got a bit too into it, felt a little too thrilled that I was good at that particular pose.
On the whole, the modified yoga poses were very controlled, and very safe, considering they were done floating in the air.
The workout is designed to build flexibility and agility, as well as core and upper-body strength. It's relatively low intensity, although some of the moves are quite challenging, and it has an overall effect of both being calming, while also getting the blood flowing.
Another advantage is that anyone can do it, regardless of fitness or experience levels. The hammock also makes it easier to hold inverted poses in the correct alignment without putting pressure on your neck and back.
Joy is the only aerial yoga teacher in Wellington, and she makes the high flying experience one you will be keen to try out again.
In the meantime, I just need to find out how I can swap my bed for one of the silk pouches.
BENEFITS OF AERIAL YOGA
- You'll develop a strong core by trying new shapes and positions up in the air which cultivate deep inner core stability
- Improve balance through use of the fabric
- Develop upper body strength
- You'll be able to align your spine correctly in each pose with careful support of the fabric
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