I walked into the studio and saw the streams of turquoise and lavender hanging from the ceiling.
Ceiling, sounds like cielo, meaning ‘heaven’ in Spanish. I immediately thought of the swaying streams from childhood circus silks, acrobats in fancy attire flying through the air somersaulting like weightless dancers. My mind’s eye saw the magician pulling colorful scarves one by one out of that magic black hat. Extraordinary the way the suspension fabrics catch the eye and trigger the imagination.
I approach the suspension slings, slightly nervous, knowing that I will be engaged in groundless movement. Soon there will be a jolt away from Mother Earth and towards the heavens, completely free inside my body, off of the ground.
To each flyer, there is one main center sling and three different lengths of slings with handles on either side of the main one.
The material is soft, yet strong enough to hold hundreds of pounds, balance woven into its essence. I look up between the suspension points, steel bolted in wood with nylon straps hanging down. The straps have various loops in which one can adjust the height of their silks. My hands clasp the tops of the slings.
The instructor begins. Calmly and fluidly she appears to float into the colorful material, like a child in a swing on a summer day. We suddenly become airborne. Supported only by the silk at our hips and a handle in each hand, we transform into superwomen, flying back and forth through the air, strengthening the muscles along the spine reaching forth with an open heart center. Lifting my legs and arms fully stretched out in opposite directions, immediately empowered, I feel like I could fly like this to infinity and beyond!
We changed positions and as we adjusted the slings to sit inside, suddenly the instructor leans backward and proceeds to wrap her legs around the tops of the slings. She became bat-like in the most feminine way, vampirical, sexy, she was commanding the slings. I paused, took a deep breath and took the plunge backward into the unknown. I found myself in the most practical inversion I’ve ever done, I felt weightless, completely surrendered, suspended in the air. Knowing that, according to ancient yoga traditions, the reversal of blood flow can be beneficial to one’s health in numerous ways.
It was in this position, I was transported into the realm of space, with feet far from the ground I embodied the element of air and ether, the elements of the highest chakras. The space far above in which the clouds, the stars, the sun and all the universe abides. Without a connection to the ground, swinging freely in the air, we find a peace beyond reason.
Next we transform and become cocooned in baddha konasana, or butterfly pose. It is in this position, a womb-like security engulfs me. I become further convinced that as I am engaged in deep stretches, I am also floating and happy, it feels almost effortless. The slings allow us to play with our inner child and our higher selves all at the same time. Assisting in asanas and stretches so deep and delicious, arrived at in ways never before known. The streams from the sky bring us deeper into our bodies as we allow ourselves to be lifted into space, into the unknown, the last yogic frontier.
Ultimately we come to Savasana, in slings! A true state of weightless being, a divine melting into the air supported only by a hammock, as if in Hawaii at sunset, one can allow themselves the luxury of truly relaxing. The instructor gently slides underneath my hovering mass, and presses her hands into my back, a sensation never before experienced in Savasana. She is allowing for conscious relaxation and the comfort of human touch.
After my experience with Suspension Yoga, I believe it will be difficult to ground myself again. Although just as Yin Yang Yoga’s namesake embodies, we must experience both: stretch and strength, up and down, Sky and Earth.
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Assistant Editor: Karen Cygnarowicz/Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: courtesy of the author