HEALTHY LIVING: 4 things to know about aerial yoga

HEALTHY LIVING: 4 things to know about aerial yoga

MIDDLETOWN — Rachel Payne of Middletown was first drawn to aerial yoga because it helped alleviate her chronic back pain. 

Payne’s studio, RaMa LuNa Center for Yoga & Well-being, is located in Middletown and offers a number of restorative and energizing classes. 

This past weekend, I participated in my first RaMa LuNa “Go with the (Aerial) Flow” class, which is offered to students of all levels. 

Payne said the type of aerial yoga is determined by the instructor and differs each week. The class I attended was taught by Ariel Ford of Meriden.

1. First impressions

Upon entering the studio, I noticed 10 elegant silk hammocks which hung from wooden beams adorned with soft white lights. 

The hammocks were a mix of colors and smooth to the touch. 

I was drawn to a textured tree constructed from purple and green yoga mat pieces that hung on the front wall.

“People can place their intentions in the branches” Payne said of her original artwork. 

Towards the back of the studio there were stacks of yoga blocks, mats, pillows, and blankets. 

2. What to expect? 

“Aerial yoga is a combination of circus and yoga. We incorporate mindful moving with breath,” said Payne.

Payne said the height of the fabric loops can be adjusted by the instructor, depending on the style of aerial yoga.

The higher off the ground that the hammock is, the more challenging the poses will be.

Payne said there are three different types of aerial yoga. 

■Grounded aerial yoga involves rooting into the floor using the hands and feet.■Flying poses require the hammock to be looped around the body. ■Floating poses take place inside of the hammock. 3. Using the hammock

“You have a lot of control over how much sensation you feel,” said Payne.

By pulling away from the plumb line participants get a sense of how leveraging their weight against the silk creates a feeling of compression. 

Ford encouraged us to identify any areas we wanted to pay special attention to and any energy that we wished to cultivate throughout the hour.

She demonstrated each pose, and its modifications, before encouraging us to try the movement on our own.

Ford said we may be able to achieve certain poses and ranges of depth with the hammock that would not be possible otherwise. 

4. Relaxation

For clam shell pose, Ford instructed us to use the fabric as a seat and place our legs through either side of the looped hammock. 

As my feet dangled slightly above the mat and I watched the cream-colored clouds pass by the skylight window next to my makeshift swing, I felt serene. 

“It brings a sense of calm in a very different way than floor yoga does …This practice brings it through almost a child-like play” said Payne.

At the end of the class, Ford diffused a refreshing peppermint scent as we gently spun in our silk cocoons. 

For more information about aerial yoga at RaMa LuNa yoga, visit:

Kristen Dearborn is a Wallingford native, NASM certified personal trainer and author of the blog dearfitkris–