When I was ten, I mastered the art of climbing my tree. It was a huge Norway Maple outside of my house, and although I understood that Norway Maples are an invasive species and can take root in the most undesirable of places and empeche (I know I can’t remember the word in English) the growth of the native species, I loved that tree and sobbed three years later when it had to be cut down.(As my mom always points out, the tree was very old and had become quite sick). I spent a lot of time up the tree that summer. I even tied an old piece of parachute rope my dad had from the Navy to an equally old dish drainer and carried the rope up one of the strongest boughs of the tree to make a pulley system. I would find little seats and foot holds and figure out the best way to sit so I would rest effortlessly. I brought up books, watched birds nests waiting for the mother bird to return, ate my lunch, generally contemplated the world. I greeted my neighbours as they returned to their homes. I surprised Mrs. Bell who lives across the street to this day, saying hello to her.
“Child, where are you?”
“I’m up here!”
Gasp, “does your mother know you’re up there?”
“I don’t know, she’s at work.”
“Well you be careful, now.”
Half way around the world, I am swinging in a cocoon, back and forth. Eyes shut,
breath is soft. Slowly, the sway swoons and becomes gently serpentine. As cliché as it sounds, I am back in my beloved tree. The same tree that appears in my dreams day and night. I have found a new love. Aerial Yoga.
Or more specifically, AIR Yogalates. This week has been so inspiring. Marie-Michelle Faber and Genevieve Berube, of Cirque du Soleil, have travelled to Morocco to do a teacher training in Air Yogalates. This is a form of Aerial Yoga combines aspects of circus, yoga, pilates, dance, and acrobatics. Hammocks are suspended at knee or hip height. The practitioner works with the forces of gravity, uses the opposition of the body in conjunction with the hammock and moves in and out of poses that provide inversion, extension and flexion of the spine, traction, torsion, strengthening and elongation of the body. The hammock also is placed at specific places on the body to align, support, and activate the meridians on the body. The end of the practice may feel like the end of a deep massage. It can be fun, therapeutic, challenging and restorative all at once.
I have never worked with silks or hammocks before. (OK, I tried one brief Aerial class last winter, but that was it.) I wasn’t sure how much I would like it, but somewhere between the mat and the sky I hang and twist and stretch in ways that are so exciting. I am on the swing set, playing on a jungle gym and in my tree again all at once. Everyone in the training has had very personal and deep responses to the work. I believe I speak for all of us when I say I can’t wait to provide this to our clients at Om Yoga in Casablanca.
If you get a chance please try Aerial Yoga, even better, AIR Yogalates. It is transformational.
Photos by Kenza Laraki, Marie-Michelle Faber and Genevieve Berube, edited by Sahajasoma.