This is a love story:
Once upon a time, I took an aerial yoga class for my blog about being brave. The yoga class was okay, at first. Then the instructor asked us to invert and IT GOT BETTER! I reached into myself and found something I didn’t know I had: courage. A whole untapped well of it! That day something fundamental changed.
I don’t believe in love at first sight. Even Colin Firth didn’t grab me the first time I saw him on the screen. (But oh man how I wish he’d grab me now!) I believe falling in love is a process, and I believe you can keep falling in love even after that first initial tumble.
This is how it’s been for me over the past couple of months. After that first yoga class, I decided to sign up for an aerial silks class and explore this new bravery I’d found inside me. I had no idea what to expect, but I was so curious I forgot to be afraid. I discovered my inner strength was big, but, despite a year of faithful barre class attendance, my upper body strength was not. I couldn’t climb the silks. I couldn’t hold myself up in the air. I couldn’t even do a real push-up. But I could invert when asked. No problem! It turns out I really like being upside down. It reminds me of being a kid on the jungle gym, doing something nature and gravity say you shouldn’t be doing. I like kicking gravity’s butt.
I kept at it, not because I fell in love with silks. (I totally did, and later with lyra, but that’s a whole other story.) What I fell in love with – who I fell in love with - was myself. My body. My arms and legs and all the muscles inside me. I fell in love with all the magical things I can do.
I’ve had a child. I’ve given birth. And yes, that was beautiful and strange, but for some reason, that whole process felt out of my hands. My son grew inside me, and all I had to do was eat right and go to my doctor’s appointments and let nature take its course. But with silks - with aerial - I tell my body where I want it to go, and then I shape it in a manner that allows it to follow my instructions. I’m in the driver’s seat. I’m in control.
For instance, I couldn’t climb the silks at all when I first started. So I started doing push-ups and pull-ups, lots of core work. By the second class, I could climb!
But it’s more than that. My history of abuse has resulted in a strange relationship with my body. For most of my life, I wanted to erase it, cover it up, forget it was there. I became very cerebral. My body was just a vehicle for my feelings and thoughts.
With time and healing, I’ve extended my existence beyond the confines of my brain. I’ve learned to inhabit my body. Aerial has allowed me to express my new physicality in an incredibly empowering way. For the first time in my life, despite being unable to catch a ball to save my life and being the slowest runner known to man, I feel like an athlete. I’ve grown stronger, literally and metaphorically. I’ve discovered the joy of taking care of my body, instead of trying to erase it. I’ve fallen in love.
So that’s my love story. I’ve fallen for my body and the power it wields. I’ve take ownership of my muscles, my limbs, my shape, and like all love, it’s made me fly!
Top image: Metal cuff custom-made by special order from Ash Mag Design.
Silks images: Taken at The Bird's Nest Circus Arts, 64 Fillmore Ave. Buffalo, NY 14201.
Lyra images: Taken at UP! Aerial Fitness, 722 W Delavan Avenue, Buffalo NY 14222.