Aerial Yoga: A Plus Size Review
When you’ve spent the last year being the most inactive you’ve been in your entire life, getting back into the swing of things can seem daunting. In the last year, I reached my heaviest weight ever. What sucks is that I used to be a workout junkie (whether it be MMA, running, yoga, Crossfit, I loved it and had to be the best at it) and I had a great body. Now, however, I hardly recognize myself.
To give you a background of how I got here, almost exactly this time last year, I suffered from an ectopic pregnancy which led to an emergency, life-saving surgery and a long recovery time (both mentally and physically). Several failed fertility treatments later, I was left angry at my body. She had turned on me, so I turned on her.
Fast forward to December 2017. I had spent the year doing my best to heal and to learn to love myself again. I was introduced to Sora Aerial Arts, a local aerial & fitness gym in Lexington, KY, and decided maybe I’d give a class a try.
At Sora, this beautiful form of exercise presented itself to me: aerial yoga. I had ALWAYS wanted to try aerial yoga, but never did. This time, I was worried about my weight. Would the silk hold me? What if the support beams break?! I was assured this would not happen, but my brain couldn’t help but see the potential fails (instructors, get your phones out, this will be YouTube Fail gold).
Before my first class, I visualized different scenes of what I would look like (and maybe even did a little self-talk of “are you sure you can do this?”), but I committed and went in. Let me tell you, I struggled, I was not graceful; it was very apparent that I spent a year doing nothing, but... I didn’t give up!
Then, the instructor had us do a move where I had to put my body weight on my stomach and hang from the silk. I had abandoned this part of my body, not touching it at all in the last year, and started to feel emotional. I was scared. If I couldn’t even bear to touch my stomach with my own hands, how would I feel putting my weight on it?
What happened? Nothing (duh - our bodies are amazing). Sure there was the initial discomfort (that is normal for first time silk-ers because your body isn’t used to your weight being distributed and hanging from fabric), but I felt empowered. I felt like maybe I could trust my body and her strength once again.
Then, we had to do an inversion. So, let me paint a picture: I was surrounded by beautiful women who had done this all before, who were flexible and fit. Here I was, a sweaty and struggling overweight baby giraffe, floating in the air trying to kick my legs up and hang upside down. First time trying was not a success, but I got that competitive drive of “I want to be the best” back.
In my next few classes, I immediately saw the change, not just in my strength & flexibility, but with my self-love. Then, I did my first inversion! While less graceful than some in the class, I felt weightless. I couldn’t believe it. The instructor and others in my class cheered my new success and told me their first-time mishaps and struggle in aerial yoga too (everyone starts at the bottom somewhere, no matter their size).
The beautiful thing about Aerial Yoga is anyone REALLY can do it. No matter your age, weight, fitness level, etc. Aerial Yoga has allowed me to feel in control and back in touch with my body. I feel sore & strong after each class, and crave when I can come back.
The great thing about Yoga being in aerial form, especially for us plus-size girls, is that it takes the stress off your bones. You have a silk apparatus there to hold on to, and workouts can be modified for your fitness level. I’m not the best… yet, but each week I progress in new poses. When I think I can’t, the instructor encourages me and guides me into “I can” and teaches me about modified poses so I’m not in discomfort or hurting myself.
There is this horrible self-talk that plus-sizers do around fitness. For example, “I can’t do XYZ until I lose some more weight.” It’s horrible and sad that we say this to ourselves. Someone recently said to me, “you aren’t, until you are” and it’s incredibly true. Whatever fitness class you’ve been wanting to try, do it! Don’t be ashamed of your body or your progress. If you try aerial yoga, the cherry on the top is how the class can end: At Sora, you float in the air, being embraced by the silk like a caterpillar in its cocoon. It is comforting, it is centering, and it’s a perfect way to end your class.
Start where you are. Challenge your mind’s perceptions. You’ll get your wings when you jump.
This article was written by Julia Blake in Lexington, KY.
Aerial Yoga | Fitness Class Lexington | Plus Size