From figure skater to aerialist to yogini – Ally shares her Aerial Arts and Yoga connection!
I started taking a small local yoga class a few years ago, around the time when I started on the aerial hoop. I thought a yoga class would be great to work on my flexibility for my new found passion. As a professional figure skater I had good balance and some flexibility but knew I could be so much better. I found my flexibility improving in my hoop training but also found my strength improving as well. My stability on the hoop, even when I was just sitting, was getting better and I was becoming more and more aware of my body positions. Sometimes I would find myself upside down in a position on the hoop, and have no idea which leg was which! Being upside down in my yoga practice helped me breathe through it all, and figure out what leg was which! I was more connected to each limb!
As a figure skater I also found it hard to point my toes! I mean, my feet had been locked up in clunky boots my whole life and I was now expected to have the perfect ballerina point. A lot of yoga poses and flows require you to ground your foot and challenge not only your balance but the strength in your foot used to balance and keep the balance! That’s a lot of balance talk but if you’ve ever stood on one foot for an extended amount of time you know how tired that foot can get! With added stretching, this new foot workout helped my toe point more than I could have imagined!
As I said, I came into yoga and aerial Lyra with a good amount of flexibility. But as I expected, I could improve! And I did. The great thing about yoga is you don’t need to be flexible to do it, but if you yoga you will become more flexible. In ways that benefit overall quality of life! My back flexibility developed and progressed without the pain I would sometimes experience during a regular stretching session. I gained through my practice, the muscles to support my new flexibility! I was gaining shoulder strength pretty quickly with aerials, and yoga helped me keep them stretched out so I didn’t lose my mobility and flexibility in them. And of course, my splits continued to develop as I was taught how to breath through stretches and positions instead of forcing painful previously learned stretching techniques.
A few years into training both, I decided I wanted to be able to do a handstand! I practiced and fell over and practiced and fell over and practiced and continued to fall over. But I found myself improving slowly. And during this, I also found myself more balanced on both the hoop and in the rest of my yoga practice. The inversion was helping muscles strengthen and stretch that didn’t usually get much attention. I’d been hanging from an aerial hoop and balancing on my feet, and now I was balancing on my hands. It was so different but amazing and fun! I continue to practice handstands daily, for fun and stretch and strength.
At the end of the day, I’m not sure which has helped the other more. Yoga has helped my aerial training in so many ways and thankfully in turn, my yoga practice has improved and I find myself enjoy it more and more everyday. I’m lucky to live at the eXtreme Hotel in Cabarete and work with the eXtreme Circus team because I’m able to train hard in aerial arts and flying trapeze and do what I love, everyday, and also attend amazing yoga classes in both mornings and evenings, everyday!
Like Ally, you as well can take advantage of both Circus and Yoga classes while staying with us. Here’s the link to our Circus camp which includes Yoga!