Every now and then we should all hang upside down. Due to my busy fitness teaching, eating, volunteering, sleeping, and work schedule, I don’t practice yoga as much as I should. This is why it helps to have friends who hang from high places.
Already a yoga teacher, Nancy Lewelling Kendrick recently voyaged to Barcelona to become the only certified yoga trapeze instructor on the Central Coast. Perhaps you’ve seen or participated in aerial yoga, where one facilitates more flexibility and relaxation with hanging silk fabric. How does yoga trapeze differ? Fabric can be challenging to maneuver with and around, but the yoga trapeze has handles! Handles make the pulling, pushing, grasping, and grabbing considerably more accessible. However, don’t confuse “accessible” with “easy” because you will definitely need your muscles.
Nancy, who has taught at SLO Yoga Center, runs her donation based Breathe and Bend Yoga studio out of her home. There is currently space for three participants to practice alongside her and the intimacy makes it safe to be clueless, to be timid, or to try a fancy trick and fail. I felt right at home; and was joined by my high school pal Terri who may or may not have shared my penchant for bangs and poofy prom dresses.
We employed the trapeze from the get go—using the apparatus for our warm up which included super effective squats that made my quads scream. Soon came our first inversion. We sat on the swing—super fun—before strategically gathering fabric below our tushies, extending our legs down, and perching. We then grabbed the handles, leaned back, and made a big “V” with our legs before securing our feet and relaxing upside down. In this assisted inversion you can really let go. It feels heavenly on the back, the reverse of blood flow invigorates, and Nancy will probably take a cool picture of you.
While on the ground, more advanced practitioners get to experience that rush of blood to the dome, but yoga trapeze makes inversions more accessible to the average Jane. We continued with assisted versions of yoga poses, some of which became much deeper and more challenging than their grounded counterparts. My favorite pose to execute was assisted bow—a back bend that creates space in your spine and opens your chest.
If you have been curious about but intimidated by aerial yoga, yoga trapeze may be the key to opening your heart chakra. Follow Breathe and Bend Yoga on Facebook for openings and bookings.
Courtney Haile is a writer and fitness instructor living in San Luis Obispo.