My mouth has a bad habit of writing checks. Unfortunately, my… er… hind quarters constantly find themselves in the middle of a bank holiday.
So, when my friend suggests that I take a 6-week aerial silks class, I automatically say:
Are you KIDDING me?! A chance to float gently in the air like a glorious feather on a breeze, draped in miles of shimmery soft fabric?!
Plus… I’ve seen Cirque du Soleil… so I’m practically already a pro.
SIGN ME UP!
I’m not entirely sure if I forgot that I was 5’5″, almost 200lbs and not the most graceful of creatures, or if I just chose to live in denial of these facts. Aerial silks seemed completely plausible to me.
The day finally came, and I’m super duper excited!
Look! Look at me! Do you see that smile?! I am so ready for all the things!
… poor child.
The time comes for class to start and our lovely instructor Sara, starts us out with some stretching. Makes sense! Stretching is sure to help with the floating gently on the breeze… alright! Let’s do some stretching! We warmed up our shoulders, our arms and our necks. Pretty easy, I’ve totally got this.
Sara: “Next, we’re going to start with a tree pose. I want you to stretch out your toes.. stretch them out wide, and power through all four quadrants of your foot and root it to the earth.”
Me: I’ve been doing tree pose for three years. My wii never told me to do anything special with my feet! And since when does my feet have quadrants?… When did we get those?!
Body: Three weeks ago, the invoice is on your desk.
Good to know. Alright, so we’re rooting our foot. I didn’t even know I could do that. I’m not sure I’m doing it right, but my foot looks hella weird, so I’m going to assume everything is in working order.
Sara: “You are going to take your right foot and bring it to rest on your thigh, or on your calf. You do NOT want to rest it on your knee.”
No problem! Here we go!
Body: Hey buuuuddy… whatcha doin’?
Me: I’m going to put this foot up on the thigh here… tree pose.
Body: You sure you don’t wanna go for the calf, there?
Me: Nah. We’ve got this!
Me: soooo… do we want to try the calf?
Body: …You’re the boss.
No shame. I put my foot up as high on my calf as I could get it. I am going to float gently on the breeze if it kills me.
Sara: “Alright, once you feel secure, you can bring your hands in prayer position in front of your heart. If you’re feeling unsteady, it might help to focus on a fixed point.”
Alright! Look at me. I’m a tree. Apparently my root has taken hold because my trunk is strong and solid and I’m the steadiest stump in the forest!
Sara: “Now, we want to extend our branches up hiiiigh… reaching to the sky!”
Me:… uh… o..0kay.
So I reached up, and out, slowly… but I got there. Yes! Gaze upon my branches! High and outstretched they are!
Sara: “Now, let’s get a breeze going!”
Me: Whyyy? Why would we do that? Why can’t it just be a mild spring day, and we just stand here… still and tree-like?
Floating…. Gently. We can do this.
Sara: “Now, bring your hands back to prayer position, and when you feel steady again, if you’re brave, try to close your eyes.”
Body: We took a vote. We’re going to suggest you not do that.
Me: I feel like we can do this. I mean, we just survived a pretty strong breeze, I really think we’ve got this, guys!
Body: Here’s the petition. We have about 500 signatures.
Me: Nope! We’re floating gently on the breeze! Eyes closed!
Body: Alright, Bob… close’m up!
Okay, so I didn’t faceplant, but yes, from now on, I stay eyes wide shut.
Sara: Alright! Let’s warm up our spines! Let’s do a little Cat-Cow Pose!”
Me: ooh! Cat-Cow! That sounds interesting… and she sounds super excited about it. I wonder what this is going to be?
Body: Uh… so, I don’t know if you noticed, but we seem to be warming up a lot of parts of us. We were wondering how gentle is this breeze we’re preparing to float on?
Me: SHH! We’re gonna do Cat-Cow!
OTHER PEOPLE DOING CAT-COW POSE:
But, my spine is sufficiently stretched. and after being a tree in the wind, it felt pretty good. Next we did a series of downward dog/plank/cobra poses.
It was finally time to be draped in shimmery soft fabric!
Body: You do realize you haven’t even started yet, and you’re already sweating, right?!
So our first order of business was to learn how to secure our wrists with the silks, in order to do a standard hold, raising our knees to our chest.
At no point… has your body… gotten any lighter than when you started! Please take that into account when doing your calculations on how easy this should be.
(solve for NOPE)
Next, we got to learn how to tie a silk knot. This knot is deceptively simple. It’s really easy to tie, it’s really easy to untie, and yet, it is able to hold all of my weight without coming undone!
I totally nailed tying that knot. I’m practically a sailor now!
We came to our first lesson… a simple inversion. My knot was where it should be, I “put on my backpack” as instructed. I leaned back, feeling the support of my weight by the silks … and then… I….
So, you don’t expect to learn certain things about yourself while taking a simple class. But apparently… I have trust issues (and control issues. and issues letting go… quite literally). So an inversion, is not unlike a trust fall. You’re safe and secure, your feet planted on the ground, your hands holding you upright. You know the knot is tight, you can feel it completely supporting you. You simply need to… let yourself go… backwards.
And just like that, my world turned upside down. (And yes, I screamed) The silks held me firmly in place by the hips. My hands were still gripping the silks (like death itself) and my legs… I don’t know what the hell they were doing because I couldn’t exactly find them.
I hear Angela in the background shouting “LET GO!”
…. calm down Sonny Jim… that’s enough out of you right now.
Me: Hey guys, can we put an APB out on the legs?
Body: **ALARMS** We’ll have to get back to you! We’ve just had several emergency calls come in at once!
Luckily, Sara was there to guide me. AND… she found my legs!
After the initial shock of putting everything back to rights, I was completely hooked. It still takes me a moment to trust that I can let go and everything will be okay, but each time gets easier. And it feels AMAZING!
I was once again ready for all the things!
Next, we were going to be an AIRPLANE! It wasn’t exactly a feather on the breeze, but I’ll take it!
Sara: First we want to sit in our silk like a swing
FINALLY! I’ve been practicing for this my whole life! I don’t want to brag… but I don’t know if there’s anyone in class better at sitting than me.
That is some top-notch sittage!
Sara: Then we’re going to slide back, so that the knot comes under our knees.
Are you KIDDING me?! DEEP SITTING?! You might as well send everyone else home… I’ve SO got this!
Sara: Now, we’re going to lift our right knee and place our foot onto the knot, then we’re going to pull up, standing up tall, then extending the arms, pushing the hips forward and we’re going to be a wonderful airplane
Ugh… I don’t even want to BE an airplane. Why are we going to ruin all of this beautiful sitting by standing up … on a knot!
First of all, I forgot to slide back, so I was trying to get my foot in a place that my butt was already occupying. Once I corrected that, getting my foot in position, I couldn’t figure out how to get my body upright, apparently, that’s where that first lesson of the standard hold came in handy. So I pulled myself in to some semblance of a shaky stance.
Me: I don’t think I like it up here…
Body: We’re plotting to murder you.
Body: Sorry… was this thing on?
Sara: So push your foot back, and shift your hips forward, spread your arms wide.
Me: But… isn’t that how the death happens?
But apparently, the combination of those actions actually cause you to be more stable despite being held up completely by fabric…
But, I trusted Sara and wouldn’t you know…
I’m an airplane!
Body: Alright, let’s not get cocky…
Sara: “Would you like to learn one more?!”
Sara: Alright, we’re going to start with your simple inversion, but this time I want you to bring your left leg across the front of the silks, perpendicular to your body. Your other leg you’re going to let drop, then arch your back, reaching around to grab your other foot and then you have…. the GAZELLE POSE…. everybody got it?
Body: Did she seriously twist herself into a pretzel, unwind herself like a french braid and ask if we “got it?”
Me: shh… poker face.
Body: We’re going to die, you realize that right?
Me: Well, we are going to die floating gently on the breeze… like a FEATHER!
Body: Okay dude… seriously…
Me: Shut up! We’re doing this!
Me: Okay… inversion… and then we bring… the leg… oh god where are my legs?!
Body: **radio silence in protest**
Me: Hey! There’s one of them, okay, this one comes across here. **looking around** yup. Okay now the other one we drop
Leg: **standing straight up**
Me: Okay… then we grab… we grab… WHERE DID IT GO?!
Sara found my foot for me, and put it in my hands. I feel awkward and ungainly. I feel chunky and weird and dangly. I am spinning, and most definitely not floating gently.
… I’m not a glorious feather…
I’m not a feather at all. 😦
You never expect to learn certain things about yourself by taking a simple class. I learned more than my fair share on this night. Yes, it’s true, I’m 5’5″, almost 200lbs with a wealth of emotional and psychological hangups. I may not be the most graceful of creatures, and I may not even be a feather. But do you know what I am?
A MAJESTIC @$#%! GAZELLE!!!
And, I’ll see you all next week!