Thursday, November 24, 2011

6 of 30: Anti Gravity Yoga - An Experience That Turned Cirque Du So Lame

It is as cool as it sounds --- if you’re a yogi, or a trapeze artist. I, unfortunately, am neither.  Anti Gravity Yoga is a kind of yoga that is done while you are suspended in a silk hammock. It’s literally a soft trapeze. The only redeeming quality of this frightening concept is that you’re only about 3 feet above ground.  Meaning if you fall, you’re only in danger of breaking your tail bone as opposed to your whole skeletal structure.
Okay. I have to admit, that when I first heard about it, I was intrigued AND excited. The photos looked so cool, and the prospect of swinging about in a hammock like a circus performer was too enticing! I mean, who doesn’t love Cirque du Soleil, right? They put an ad up for a $12 dollar class and I just couldn’t pass it up.

I have only done yoga a couple times in my life. The first time was at a random yoga class at my gym, which wasn’t so bad… And the second time was at the Bikram headquarters in LA – where I ended up with a massive migraine afterwards.  You don’t have to be an experienced yogi (or an experienced anything for that matter) to do Anti Gravity Yoga, but I just wanted to point out that I was a beginner in every sense of the word. 

Which is why when my friend, D, and I came into the studio with these obviously experienced women, it was a little intimidating! I think I raised my hand a little too enthusiastically when the instructor asked if there were any first timers in the class.

At first, it was really simple. The instructor had us position ourselves on the hammock so we could sit on it like a swing. The silk cloth is really strong, and it spreads out pretty wide that it could cover your whole body like a real hammock. I was a little uneasy though because I’m really heavy, and I keep expecting the screws to sort of conk out from the ceiling, causing me to fall flat on my face. The instructor noticed my apprehension and she said to just “trust it” – because it won’t let me fall. And she was right. It didn’t let me fall. It just did something worse.

But we’ll get to that later.

After a few stretching exercises, she started to introduce different poses. I don’t know what these poses are called, but dude. For someone whose limbs aren’t made of rubber band, they were pretty hard core.

I mean these poses, I could do.

Or even these were fine.

But these? You gotta be kidding me.

The instructor kept saying – “Trust it… Trust it.” And I wanted to yell at her and say, “It’s not IT that I don’t trust, it’s ME!” Dude I can’t do no splits??!!
My hammock probably looked like it was on vibrate or something because my body kept shaking... afraid my face might end up carrying my whole weight. I ended up looking like that girl in the photo to the right, wearing the dark green shirt. Imagine that, but a LOT more awkward.

Trufthfully, I was surprised I was even able to pull off the majority of the poses. Apparently, I’m more flexible than I thought I was. And Anti Gravity Yoga could have been something I’d have pursued further --- if it weren’t for the swinging.
The swinging came out of left field. There are certain poses that you have to hold for a minute or so as the instructor SWINGS your hammock.

Yeah, sure. It SOUNDS fun. But it’s not. Especially for someone like me – who has a condition called kinetosis… more commonly referred to as – motion sickness.  
To me, the full blast of my motion sickness happens on boats. And now, apparently, Anti Gravity Yoga as well.
I was trying to hold on till the end of the class, fighting off the nausea that was overcoming my senses. But the poses were getting too extreme for me that I had to yell “uncle!” for the instructor to give me a break.
She said – “No worries. Let’s put you in the cocoon position to let the hammock cradle you so you can relax”

This is the cocoon position.

I was all too happy to oblige. I didn’t mind just laying there till the rest of the class finished.
But then, without any warning, the swinging started again. I didn’t even notice her gentle nudge after she wrapped me in the silk. Shit.
My heart started pounding. Almost immediately, the bile started rising up to my throat. I closed my eyes thinking it would help, determined to keep it in till the end of the class but it only made it worse. Soon enough, the whole room started spinning and I felt like I was gonna be sick.

It took me a whole 2 minutes to wiggle my way out of the stupid cocoon. And when I was finally free of it, I ran to the bathroom and threw up. Thank goodness I didn’t ruin their precious hammocks.  And thank goodness I only ate half of my chalupa for lunch.
I went back into the room and realized my friend, D, was also out of her hammock. She also felt a little nauseous, but she had enough sense to hop out of her hammock before it got worse. The instructor saw us and gave us some soda. She said it helped with the nausea.

So there we were, sipping our Sprites, watching the rest of the class cocoon their way into slumber.  “It doesn’t really do anything for your body, “ says D, who is a personal trainer, by the way.
“Really??” I asked.
“Not really.  Not so much impact. Carrying your body weight for 5 seconds, stretching and swinging? It’s fun, but it doesn’t do much for your body.”
I felt better about myself.  There’s a possibility she only said that so I won’t feel like such a failure, but I didn’t care. It worked :)

I thought about the experience on the drive home. It was definitely an interesting kind of exercise. Maybe if the instructor just gave a little more, I dunno, instruction maybe? Then it probably wouldn’t have been as difficult. It was hard to compete with a room full of veterans. And it was embarrassing to be the one to slow everyone down – so I didn’t ask for too much help either. I decided it was probably too early to write off this aerial aerobic yoga thing. After all, it was only my first time.  Who knows? Maybe after two or three sessions, I could pass for a circus freak and twirl around in that hammock! Yes, a second attempt was in order.

I got home and threw up again.

Maybe not.