The Circus Arts

So, years ago, when my daughter was a toddler, I was on a walk with some friends. Kate and I had been to the circus the week before, a small, one-ring circus that traveled to mountain towns- I remember their elephant being particularly miserable looking in the rain/snow mix that was falling that June evening in Leadville. (That’s how you know how long ago it was, they still had an elephant, with no protesters)

So, anyway, we were hiking, and I remember telling one of my friends about the circus, and that I had just loved watching the trapeze artists, and wouldn’t it be great to do that, just fly through the air? She agreed, then another friend, Todd, butted into the conversation, “Actually, most of the people I know who become involved in the circus arts as adults have either a dance or gymnastics background. You have to be pretty strong..”

Thanks Todd, for that reality check. Not only do I not have much of a dance or gymnastics background, but I had just had a kid, and was working on having another kid, wasn’t very strong, and really wasn’t at a reasonable stage of life to “become involved in the circus arts.”

Fast forward, here I am now, with a kid who has moved off to college, and another who has started high school, and I have just taken an aerial yoga class. And it is a lot like flying through the air… so much fun.

It is not exactly trapeze- there is an aerial silk suspended from the ceiling, hammock style. The bottom of the loop is about waist height, and it is used as a prop to both stretch and build strength, with typical yoga poses being supported and augmented by the fabric.

The class I attended (at Dream of Flight Yoga– check it out if you are in Noco) started with a warm-up on the ground, then we stood, and worked with balance. One of the awesome things about using the silks is that the leg you are standing on works really hard, building the muscles in the standing leg.  You can balance longer because of the support of the silk, but because the silk is stretchy and slightly unstable, your muscles work to stabilize.

Later in the class, we inverted, with the silk bunched up at hip height. I haven’t swung around upside down since I was a kid. So much fun. I’m going back tomorrow. I’m not saying I’m running away with the circus. Not yet, anyway.

No pictures- it’s hard to get selfies when you’re flying.


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