ZERO GRAVITY

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by Alyssa Morlacci Health & Fitness Mar 2015 Also on Digital Edition

A workout trend that’s sure to knock you off your feet.

Had it not been for the welcoming smile on Lisa Midlarsky’s face, I may have turned around and walked back out of the Defy Gravity Yoga studio in Boca Raton. The facility where she teaches could double as a torture chamber, with questionable black straps hanging from the ceiling panels. Midlarsky used a ladder to drape the ropes with vibrant silks, and I was about to trust them with my life during my first anti-gravity yoga experience. From mine to yours, here’s what to expect:

The class: I stood facing the studio’s mirrors on a pink mat, behind a pink silk that Midlarsky secured at an appropriate height off the ground. This was so I wouldn’t hit my head when we flipped upside-down, because yes, we were going to flip upside-down. We climbed into our silks with our legs on opposite sides of the fabrics, taking our hands to our hearts in Namaste. One of my favorite sensations as a kid was kicking off dirt and soaring into the air on a swing. I was reminded of that feeling as my feet dangled freely from the hammock.

Physical benefits: Once we established a focus for the day’s practice, we began utilizing traditional yoga movements that were modified to incorporate the silks. For example, a plank was done with one or both legs in the hammock. Aerial classes are built to increase flexibility and build strength through exercises that aren’t available through grounded motions. In the modified plank, we were each challenged to engage our core so that our legs didn’t sway away.

Mental benefits: After easing into the practice and getting to know the silk, it was time to flip. The physical execution was easy – lace the silk behind, then lean back. However, the mental execution was more difficult to conquer. If you’ve ever done a trust-fall – dropping backward like a board in the hopes you have good friends – it’s essentially the same motion, except your friend is a piece of material, and your trip backward doesn’t stop till your feet take your head’s place in the air. As my peers flipped with ease one-by-one, I mustered the courage and, in a short second, joined them down below.

To close the class, we prepared for Shavasana (meditation) by climbing into our silks like they were cocoons. Lying inside with closed eyes, I traveled to a private island and the ocean’s breeze swayed me back and forth.

Eventually, it was time to signal motion back into our toes and fingers and roll out of our cocoons. But, as I shed my shell, I felt I had made my own personal metamorphosis that I would carry throughout my day.

Other aerial class studios:

Fusion Fitness and O2 Yoga; 4670 Coral Ridge Drive, Coral Springs; fusionfitnessyoga.com

Sunshine Circus Arts; 1225 NW 17th Ave., Delray Beach; sunshinecircusarts.com

MindBody Trendz; 8620 Griffin Road, Cooper City; mindbodytrendz.com

Palm Beach Athletic Wear & Yoga; 4767 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens; yogapbaw.com

Aerial Bodies Pilates, Fitness & Therapy; 605 Belvedere Road, Ste. 8, West Palm Beach; aerialbodies.com

Every Breath You Take Pilates; 1241 SE Indian St., Unit 103, Stuart; everybreathpilates.com