Entrepreneur Combines Exercise Techniques for Healthier Lifestyle Emma_KW Around the world, individuals gather to better their
health through various ways. Some indulge in spiritual meditation and others fancy eating a nutritional diet…then there is a group of exercise junkies. For Michelle Dortignac, the everyday meditations and exercise routines weren't enough. Michelle wanted to think outside of the box and explore a new practice that would help increase a healthy lifestyle through a combination of traditional and nontraditional exercise techniques. Health is certainly important. But, how does one practice living a healthy lifestyle? Through the New Age Movement, a movement devoted to spiritual and self-growth, individuals around the world develop their own unique ways to take charge of their health. Michelle did just that. She combined her dancing and performing background to create her own practice, a practice that has individuals around the world eager to return to the next class. The New Age Movement followers strive to maintain a holistic lifestyle. A holistic lifestyle is having a healthy take on all aspects of one's life. The individual’s "whole" lifestyle is based on the mind, body and spirit. During Michelle's dance and yoga studies, she combined some of the basic mind, body and spirit techniques to create a truly holistic approach to exercising. Michelle created Unnata Aerial Yoga (Unnata, meaning "elevated" in Sanskrit). What is aerial yoga? Unnata Aerial Yoga is a combination of yoga, acrobatics, mediation, dance and choreography. This form of yoga is similar to the traditional form; however, aerial yoga is practiced from a trapeze (hammock) that is mounted to the ceiling. Students are provided a trapeze that is appropriate for their height and weight. Keeping the names of traditional yoga poses, incorporating acrobatic style and ending by wrapping each student in their trapeze for a calm meditation, aerial yoga is the newest New Age Movement trend. Encouraging those who practice aerial yoga to eat a nutritional meal for better results, the practice keeps all areas of the student's life holistically balanced. According to aerialyoga.com, "Unnata Aerial Yoga is an organic hybrid that has grown out of a lifetime of study on movement and meditation." Michelle is not only the founder of Unnata Aerial Yoga; she is a founding member of Suspended Cirque, the first New York City acrobatic theater. With a grasp on acrobatic techniques, Michelle's passion for body movement techniques is prominent. Michelle's skills align with aerial performances, such as aerial acrobatics and other circus related performances.
Aerial yoga takes an individual to a different flight of yoga abilities. The traditional tree pose, for example, has a different effect upside-down as the blood rushes to one’s head. Yogis, regular yoga students, feel strong from their inner core and out while practicing this technique. To get an idea for some of these basic yoga stretches in the form of aerial yoga, a video was created. This video helps one see the true combination of various exercise routines. The individuals that practice aerial yoga are seeking a calm place to stretch and meditate. The inversions help them relax and keep a healthy lifestyle.
During an interview, conducted by dailybrink, Michelle said, "Even with traditional yoga, you have to adjust the practice based on your own physical limitations. For example, pregnant women won’t be doing poses that put pressure on their stomachs. With aerial yoga, it’s the same. We just make adjustments to your practice based on your physical limitations." Aerial yoga has a “playground feel" to it. Do you remember hanging from the monkey bars at recess? Aerial yoga gives the same feeling; however it offers more options for flexible moves and traditional yoga poses. Students are able to wrap their bodies around the trapeze (hammock) that hangs from the ceiling. Michelle wasn’t the first to spot aerial yoga; however she was the first to implement it into a classroom setting and work to make it a growing phenomenon. Some individuals have even set up their own aerial yoga practice in their homes. Having the right ceiling support, properly hanging the trapeze and placing a mat below the trapeze will allow for a safe experience. Looks easy, huh? It takes time to develop the flexible body to practice some of the poses; however, even if one can’t perform a move to its fullest, the student is still taking the time to develop the healthier lifestyle!
It is recommended that individuals do not eat two hours prior to practicing aerial yoga. Some poses require going upside down and spinning the body in various directions. Students should also be prepared to alternate the pose to best fit their own level of aerial yoga. No one should feel that a pose must be performed to it’s fullest the first time! No matter how a student demonstrates the pose, their health is improving by taking the time and energy to engage in this type of exercise.
What is a typical aerial yoga class like? The start of an aerial yoga class is a general time for students to stretch and prepare for the yoga practice. The class will start off in unison and gradually climb into their trapeze that hangs from the ceiling. A normal aerial yoga class ends with the students wrapping themselves in the trapeze for a deep meditation. As will a traditional yoga class, the class will meditate for 1-5 minutes. The class can engage in short “hmmms” and “ummms” and close the class with their hands to their hearts in the prayer position. As Gryphon Adams, an aerial yoga student, mentions, “A balanced approach to fitness may be the closest thing we have to a fountain of youth.”
Aerial yoga helps individuals stay healthy through various stretches and meditation. A holistic health goes beyond the body. One must be living a holistic life spiritually and mentally as well. Michelle understood this and worked to ensure that individuals would have the opportunity to improve all areas of one’s life. It takes motivation to live a holistic lifestyle. To engage in the practice of aerial yoga, one must be motivated and have the patience to learn how to utilize the strength of one’s body. Pulling your body into the trapeze takes energy and muscle strength. Staying focused on the goal of a holistic lifestyle, yogis find pleasure in staying motivated to return to the next class session. "Since going through lumbar spinal fusion back surgery 2 years ago, I worked hard and regained my conditioning, but struggled to find the agility and flexibility I had before the injury. I ran, lifted weights, and performed daily stretching, but nothing seemed to do the trick. After finding a flyer on Aerial Yoga, I gave it a try," commented Dori Frame, 3time WNBF World Champion Bodybuilder and aerial yoga student, "On the first night, I knew I had found the missing piece of the puzzle. For the first time in two years, I was able to try a backward bend, with the gentle help of gravity, that I had been been scared to work on the ground. This class has helped my spinal flexibility so much, that I now have the new goal of being able to do a full backbend on the ground by summer, something I never thought I would do again, and I get closer with every aerial yoga class." Michelle has provided a combination of her favorite exercise techniques. Due to her collaboration, Unnata Aerial Yoga awareness has spread around the world. It is great to know that one person can have a large effect on thousands of lifestyles. Lifestyles that may not have been fully focused on staying holistic.