When I was invited along to try out aerial yoga at Tring Yoga Studio I couldn’t have been more excited. I’ve followed them for a while and loved the look of the brightly coloured slings in the stark white studio and despite my more flexible days being well and truly behind me…well, I think we all have a bit of monkey in us don’t we?!
On arriving at the studio I straight away felt a sense of calm and peace and like I was a million miles away from the outside world. Located in the ex Salvation Army Hall, tucked neatly on the end of Albert Street, it has the wonderful high ceilings and big windows you expect from an old hall. Pauline has also done a fantastic job of converting it to the clean, warm, calm space you expect in a yoga studio and of course positioned above our heads were the steel beams with the bright yoga slings securely attached.
I arrived early to practice a few postures for the photos — having my picture taken remains to be a scary thing for me …having it taken when I’m upside down in gym leggings is pretty much terrifying so I needed to get in some practice so I didn’t look like a hung ham in the shots! I also couldn’t wait to get in the sling and get upside down. The first thing that struck me was how heavy I felt trying to invert. You tend to remember doing this type of activity as a child and as I know from a brief dalliance with horse-riding back in my early 30s…your adult body feels very different doing these things than it did as a flexible, fearless child. The next thing I noticed was how little fabric was required to hold you in position…as the title suggests it really takes a leap of faith to put your trust in the equipment and Pauline’s instruction, but you absolutely do get there and it is staggering to see what the body can achieve.
Once the main class started, Pauline lead us trough a series of asanas (poses) that I recognised from my days practising regular yoga. It was good to be on familiar ground however using the sling to aid us we were able to achieve a more intense stretch than in the regular pose.
After the warm up poses were complete we moved on to the aerial poses. As the majority of the poses involved us lifting ourselves into the sling I found that both my upper body and my stomach muscles tired quickly and at the half way point of the class I found getting in to the poses much more difficult. I loved the feeling of being held in the sling however, allowing it to both support your body and help you achieve the many, mostly inverted poses and actually although I was tiring, my ability to do the aerial work was improving after just a few goes. Some felt like wonderful stretches whereas others were more of a challenge to the whole body and took a great deal of effort. As is often the way with any class involving stretch — we are all more supple in different areas of the body, meaning we will be able to do and not do different things.
I’ve always loved the element of yoga that involves relaxation. So it’s no surprise then that possibly my favourite part of the class was the end at which point we wrapped ourselves entirely in the sling and lay flat, silently, gently supported in our sling cocoon. Our senses were numbed and the exertions of the class left floating away from our minds and bodies.
This class is both challenging and fun. Very rarely are we able to use our bodies in this sort of way and we really all should try! My inner monkey was left satisfied and as for the effect on my muscles…well I think I just about made used every single one in my body. My stomach muscles were used in a way they didn’t know possible and for the following week I daren’t laugh or cough for fear of the pain! I have no doubt that if I continued this class I would have the core strength of the a gymnast and look like a 90s Madonna in no time.
We’re so lucky to have such a wonderful facility right here in Tring. Not only is it a fabulous studio in itself with many different types of classes and instructors but the aerial yoga is great fun and not something you see everywhere. The classes are also brilliant value for money as you can buy a monthly pass and subject to booking in, do unlimited classes for those that like to to exercise more than once a week this is ideal.
If you’re interested in yoga, exercise or just want to try something new, there’s so much on offer here, so do check it out. I promise you — if you suspend your faith a little, you will also find that you can suspend your body and be amazed at where it takes you.
Me with Pauline Gibbons
Pictures by Matthew Bishop Photography