TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Emily Guindon weaves long pieces of indigo-colored fabric around her wrists, preparing for her warmup of shoulder shrugs and core exercises.
This is how most days at Take Flight Yoga and Movement begin for her, as she warms up for a session on silks in the echoey warehouse on the west side.
She recently moved her aerial business to this warehouse specifically for the high ceilings — a necessity for aerial arts. The long, colorful drapes of fabric, called silks, hang from the ceiling, while she hoists up a hoop by a pulley system.
Guindon teaches aerial silks and yoga almost every day, but it wasn’t always this way.
A Cirque du Soleil show sparked her interest in the craft and a quick Google search led her to sign up for her first class.That was it. After one class, she was hooked.
Her love for aerial motivated her to open her own studio in Tucson.
“I was already in love with aerial so I thought how great would it be to teach that full time and share that with the world,” she said.
So I tried it! With it being my first time, I was worried I wouldn’t be strong enough, but, with good instruction, she walked me through the process step-by-step.
With each wrap of the silks, I felt more secure as it held my weight, meaning I didn’t have to hold myself up as much, thank goodness. Oddly enough, I felt weightless.
It felt like a playground for adults, where I could swing upside down, spin and climb. Granted, I was only a few feet off the ground, but was in awe anytime I successfully tried a new move.
Being upside down was disorienting, but lots of fun! I laughed away any nerves I had at the beginning. So, I tried the silks, but she offers other options too.
Aerial is a big “umbrella term,” Guindon explained. It involves any practice performed off the ground, using lyra, hoops or silks to challenge gravity.
While traditional yoga is done on the floor, aerial takes those principles to the air using something called a sling as a prop to aid you in the class.
This takes pressure off of your body, where the hanging helps decompress your neck and spine.
She illustrated what one difference might look like. In floor yoga you do the shavasana lying down, whereas in aerial yoga you could do it hanging above ground in a cocoon made from the sling.
In the silks or Lyra classes you’re more likely to learn tricks.
Though Guindon had been in the fitness industry for 10 years, she wanted something different. Then, she discovered aerial arts and felt empowered.
“I guess for me it feels like I’m flying under my own power,” she said. “It’s clearly me making that feeling as opposed to a freefall or something that I’m not in control of.”
Guindon debunked one thing she hears a lot: You don’t have to be flexible or strong to participate.
Rather, participants need to be willing to learn and not take themselves too seriously.
“It’s silly in a way because it's like why are we doing this other than to make pretty shapes and have fun and there's a big creative outlet if you want to go that way,” Guindon said.
Aside from the fun, it’s a good form of exercise.
She coined the term “sneaky ab work” because you strengthen your body as you move in and out of positions, without even realizing it.
She challenges anyone who is hesitant but interested to “just start” and before you know it, you’ll be doing things you never thought you could do.
“Just come in with a fun attitude and know some things you’ll be good at and some things will be really foreign,” Guindon said.
Guidon said she hopes those who give it a try, find the same sense of empowerment she does. I know I did. I felt much more capable than when I walked in and am excited to try it again.
“It can be a place to have fun and laugh and get healthy among friends and make pretty shapes and do it in a safe environment where everyone is met where they are,” she said.
For a list of classes and pricing, visit Take Flight’s website here.