MADISON (WKOW) – Aerial yogis are turning students upside down to reach a new level of fitness.
"Getting up in the air is fun. You don't realize what a good workout you're getting because you're busy having fun and hanging upside down and in some cases swinging," aerial yoga instructor Marcia Miquelon said.
Miquelon teaches aerial yoga at Madison Circus Space and kids' trapeze at the Goodman Community Center. She says the aerial arts are beginning to boom here.
"The combination of yoga and aerial dance has brought aerial into the mainstream," Miquelon said.
In the last year at least three studios in the Madison area have started offering aerial yoga or silks classes, according to Luv Seamon, an aerialist with the Wild Rumpus Circus. These include Kula Yoga & Wellness, Madison Circus Space and the Goodman Community Center.
"I've been doing yoga for the past five years, so the idea of flying is pretty cool," said Meredith Harmon, who searched for aerial yoga classes in Madison after hearing about classes available in New York City and Chicago.
Students use loops of colorful silk to support and suspend themselves, making it easier to deepen and lengthen into many yoga poses.
"In a lot of the aerial yoga classes that I've taken, you go through and try the pose on the ground and then take it to the air, and it's amazing how much mobility you have," Harmon said.
Seamon says taking the poses off the ground have helped her and her students gain strength, flexibility, and better posture.
"My body has changed so much since I started doing aerial dance. I have muscles where I didn't even think you were supposed to have muscles," Seamon said.
The silks can also expand, cradling yogis during their final resting poses.
"Once you're comfortable with it, it's so relaxing. When you're doing your shavasana, instead of just laying on the ground you're in a hammock and you're in your happy place. It's nice," Harmon said.
People who have existing health problems such as glaucoma, high blood pressure and heart disease, or are more than three months pregnant, should check with their doctors before attempting aerial yoga, as "the inversions can add more pressure," Miquelon said.
However, flying fitness seems to appeal to many age groups.
"I have kids as young as three years old who want to start. I usually hold them off until they're in kindergarten. And then I've had people in their seventies and even in their eighties," Miquelon said.
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