One of my favorite things is to always keep an eye on the Lululemon community calendars for each of the stores in the city, because sometimes you find a gem in there. I DO wish all of NYC’s different Lulu calendars were combined but really, a little leg work never killed anyone! My favorite free “community sweat” classes, though, are always the ones they occasionally hold in the featured studios. This week, Lululemon Union Square’s class turned out to be an Aerial Yoga class at OM Factory! Score!
I have been dying to try out OM Factory’s Aerial Yoga for a while. The studio was already 3/4 full by the time I filled out my waiver/newcomer form and made my way into the room. The room was set up with 15 (or so) bright orange silk “hammocks” – I grabbed one of the mats hanging on the wall & took a spot in the back of the room under one of the silks. The class filled up quickly and a few people had to be turned away since with any Aerial class, once the hammocks are filled, that is it. No squeezing in at the last minute in a class like this! While I waited for class to begin, I sat in my hammock and swung, taking in the bright pretty space. OM really is a lovely little peaceful gem in the craziness that is Union Square.
The instructor for our class, Sarah Sadie Newett, came around to each of us before the class started and had us stand by our silks to get measured. The hammocks, when pulled taught, are supposed to be at your hipbones. That way when you fold over it, the hammock will support your weight in various poses. Our class was billed as a “foundations class” – which meant that there was a lot of stopping to have the next thing explained to us. While we listened, Sarah often had us swing in our hammocks, which is really just a seriously soothing way to have anything explained to you. Ages ago I took some Aerial Yoga classes, so it didn’t really bother me that I couldn’t always see what was being demonstrated up at the front of the room. We did a lot of moves with one leg suspended out in the hammock, which is a fun way to explore your balance and go far deeper into the poses.
In every Aerial yoga class though, I just am chomping at the bit to do my absolute favorite thing – hang upside down. Almost every other pose is just what I have to do to get to flip upside-down in those awesome hammocks. I could be really happy hanging upside down every single day. In an “Aerial Silks” class, the fabric is in two sections and being upside down is a feat. but because the silks in Aerial Yoga is a one piece hammock, the upside-down move is awesomely easy. It cradles as you flip back and you can either straddle your legs out or my favorite, to wrap them around the silks. It is so oddly comfortable and freeing. While we were upside-down, Sarah also had us try a handstand – I was stunned when I pushed right up into a full handstand and could hold it! The silks wrapping around you give just enough support to keep you steady and straight, which is sort of the key in a handstand. So freaking cool. The class wound down with a few supported down dogs and then it was finally time for Savasana. Aerial Yoga’s version is amazing – you spread the fabric out, sitting on it and pulling it up around your shoulders before laying back and sort of inchworming yourself out to a fully extend position. It is like being in a cocoon, swinging freely in the air. It is so weirdly freeing to not feel the ground beneath you, like bobbing on your back in the ocean, just very calming and centering.
Shaking up your routine is such a very good thing. I wouldn’t suggest replacing your favorite yoga flow class with Aerial Yoga, since every one I have ever take has stopped and started a lot – but the special magical moments in those classes really are truly amazing. I am so grateful to Lululemon for their community sweats program that finally got me to a class I’ve been meaning to go to for ages! I’ll definitely be back at the OM Factory soon to get to see the world upside-down again….
Photos of Aerial Yoga from the OM Factory NYC Facebook page. Bottom photo just a little bit of internet goodness.