Taking aerial yoga for a (nauseating) spin. —Donna Garlough
I AM TRYING TO FIND a fixed point to stare at until my queasiness subsides. But I can’t find a fixed point. Actually, I can’t see anything beyond the red fabric cocoon that envelops me. There’s no way I’m leaving this yoga studio enlightened, or even relaxed.
Yes, yoga. I’m at South Boston Yoga, where three times a week, students come to bend, flex, and twist in midair with the aid of silk swings tethered to the ceiling. Aerial yoga presents a unique challenge: Since you’re constantly trying to stay balanced, you work different muscle groups than you would in the usual, grounded practice. Watching the demo video online, I’m fascinated — it’s a blend of vinyasa, trapeze, and a L’eggs commercial.
Certain I’ll suffer a mortifying face plant if I attempt an airborne Warrior II, I arrange a semiprivate session with my colleague Courtney for moral support. Our instructor, Joanna Keseberg, is no typical yogi. She’s a circus performer — the fire-eating, stilts-wearing kind. Luckily, her lesson is for non-acrobats. To start, we nestle into a side-lying position inside the fabric and curl our bodies into balls. As I unfurl my limbs, I feel like a pupa metamorphosing into a stretchy butterfly. It’s odd, yet soothing.
Ten minutes later, though, I try my first inversion. With my feet skyward and my nose a few inches from the mat, I’m suddenly reeling. And, as the routine becomes increasingly complex — a tree pose, in which I’m standing on the fabric and slowly rotating; a supported sideways crane; a swinging dancer — full-blown motion sickness takes hold. Courtney, looking green, stops for a sip of water, but I grit my teeth and fight the urge to gag, all the way through the final meditation.
After class, we hightail it to the local bodega and each chug a bottle of ginger ale. Thankfully, the queasiness passes, and the next day, I wake up sore all over. The hurts-so-good aftereffects are so dramatic, I’m actually tempted to go back — armed with Dramamine, that is.
$15 (Drop-in rate), Classes on Tuesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays; South Boston Yoga, 36 W. Broadway, Boston, 617-315-7448, southbostonyoga.net.
Illustration by Kirsten Ulve