For practitioners of aerial yoga, the skys the limit – The Boston Globe

Posted: January 8, 2020 at 8:44 am


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At times, the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts. Like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Or, in fitness circles, maybe a triathlon. For Paulajeanne PJ OClair, a movement specialist from Manchester-by-the-Sea, aerial yoga fits the bill.

For the uninitiated, aerial yoga is a unique combination of acrobatic, circus-like arts, and antigravity asana, or yoga practice, said OClair.

Many people are under the impression that aerial classes have you flying around and hanging upside down like they do in a Cirque du Soleil show, she said. But aerial instructors are trained professionals and well aware that most people coming into class are not skilled circus performers. They know how to provide a safe and effective environment for their students.

OClair first learned about aerial yoga from a spa owner in Nova Scotia.

I fell in love with the feeling and concept of suspension, she said. I tried to mimic it using the TRX Suspension Trainer, but it wasnt the same.

OClairs original Clubxcel & Northeast Pilates in Manchester couldnt accommodate the specific equipment required for aerial yoga. That situation changed when she opened Praxis Performance + Wellness in Beverly last summer.

We fabricated our aerial rigging from a huge construction crane, she said. The welders built the structure in the parking lot and then installed it.

Suspension from aerial hammocks, said OClair, has many benefits, including pain relief and body alignment.

You can support your limbs, decompress the spine, and relieve stress, said OClair. Its very restorative. You feel like youre in a cocoon. Its a personal experience suspended swinging in space completely encapsulated in a silk hammock.

A 2016 study commissioned by the nonprofit American Council on Exercise confirmed the disciplines health benefits.

Even though aerial yoga does not include traditional cardio exercises, a single session of aerial yoga offered participants many of the benefits associated with low- to moderate-intensity aerobic exercise like brisk walking or leisurely cycling, reported Dr. Cedric X. Bryant, the organizations chief science officer. After the six-week program, participants displayed measurable reductions in some common risk factors for cardiovascular heart disease.

Classes last anywhere from 50 to 90 minutes.

It starts like most any other practice a warm-up and then a solid asana practice to build strength, mobilize the joints, and integrate the entire body, said OClair. You can start the practice on the mat, standing, or inside the hammock.

There are various class formats a traditional vinyasa flow, a core inspired focus, or restorative practice, she said. Doing aerial twice per week is extremely beneficial. Look at it as a cross-training tool.

Other than the rigging provided at the studio, no special gear is required.

Just an open mind, said OClair.

There are many options for success, she said. Its a discipline, and there is no rush and no need for perfection. Just practice daily and build yourself.

A discipline like aerial yoga, said OClair, is particularly beneficial during winter.

My advice is to get it done early in the morning, she said. That way life cannot derail you. Once you get to work, its hard to get out, or youre exhausted. Get it done early. Youll feel charged up and ready to face the day.

Its easy to turn over and hit the snooze button when you dont have anyone waiting for you. said OClair. Schedule to meet up with others. Become part of a community to hold yourself accountable. Our members are very committed to their groups and partner up.

For details, visit praxisperformwell.com.

Correspondent Brion OConnor can be reached at brionoc@verizon.net.

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For practitioners of aerial yoga, the skys the limit - The Boston Globe

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January 8th, 2020 at 8:44 am

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