By Elysia K. Conner
Via Wyoming News Exchange
CASPER — Purple cloths hung from the ceiling like hammocks, while participants in a workshop at Theraexpressions Meditation set out mats on the floor.
The beginning aerial yoga workshop started on mats, as teacher Candace Lopez led a group of seven through movements timed with breath. But later in the cloths, called aerial silks, they’d suspend in the air and even turn upside-down.
“Aerial yoga has a lot of similar components that hatha flow yoga has on the floor,” Lopez said, “only we’ll be doing most of it in the silks.”
Theraexpressions Meditation owner Lopez, who’s also worked for 13 years as a school counselor, started the company three years ago with mobile sessions and opened the meditation center in September. Its offerings, taught by certified instructors, include indoor and outdoor meditation instruction, mindfulness based stress reduction, vibrational sound healing and yoga, including aerial yoga, she said.
Aerial yoga uses poses that move energy through seven healing paths in the body, can help those with back and shoulder pain and provides a good workout, Lopez said.
“Nobody else was doing it in town,” she said, “and it gives a little bit of a different take on the ancient art of yoga.”
The teacher assured the participants the silks can hold up to 600 pounds as she walked them through some safety protocol and advice to avoid dizziness.
The workshop began with warm-ups on the mat and stretches with the silks. With the silks supporting them, they moved through exercises, including a “chair pose” and an aerial version of a backbend called the camel pose. At one point, they stood and swiveled their bodies in circles with the silks wrapped around their shoulders.
“This is a really nice move to open up that digestive tract, and if you really want to get wild, you just roll with it, ladies,” Lopez said as the group laughed.
Later, the participants straddled the silks, pulled the fabric around their legs and disappeared inside the cloth.
They stretched together in poses called the cat and cow, pressing against the fabric as they inhaled and releasing as they exhaled.
Lopez guided each participant through the first inverted pose. They wrapped their legs and hooked their feet along the sides of the silks.
“That’s amazing,” one participant said as she rested upside down in the stretch.
Lopez later showed them how to pull themselves up from the position until they sat upright.
The last, and most advanced, position Lopez taught the group was aerial version of the plow pose, which works the core and arms. They lay back in their silks, now stretched from their feet to shoulders, and turned in a somersault motion to hover face-down above their mats.
Lopez passed around ginger candy and a peppermint oil roller to counteract dizziness and nausea. Since practicing aerial yoga a few times a week, Lopez no longer experiences motion sickness on airplanes, she told the group.
The workshop ended with the group members stretched out in their silks with lavender packs over their eyes. Quiet music played as Lopez walked between the participants and rang a pair of soft chimes and guided them through a meditation to focus energy.