I would like to begin this series with a disclaimer: I have been doing anti-gravity yoga for almost four months. Since then, I have lost 10 lbs. including face fat. I feel leaner and my lower back, chronically painful from sitting almost all day doing my job as a newspaper writer, has seen relief. Now the disclaimer part. Doing four months of anti-gravity yoga does not mean I am an expert. I continue to shake while holding poses. I still can’t do a proper flying shoulder stand, and, whenever I feel strong enough to try aerial yoga — an entirely different and more brutal monster — I discover that I am not. But I feel a strong connection to it and I intend to keep that, for the results I continue to see and feel.
My first class was a shock. I was the kid in high school who never took a sporty P.E. class. I could never do a backbend. Most of all, I have never been upside down. At AGY class, the first thing the teacher tells her students is to trust the hammock. “The Harrison Anti-Gravity Hammock, created by Christopher Harrison, can hold up to 1000 lbs. and is completely safe,” so the intro spiel goes. Trusting the hammock and trusting yourself to trust the hammock are two different things. Logic told me that the hammock is professional-grade. Someone even said it could carry a whale. A whale! I have my pockets of fat, but I am most definitely not a whale. But my body, uncertain and outside of its comfort zone, kept resisting and going to safe mode.
During my first class, I happened to get one of the center’s toughest teachers. I would realize this after I meet the other teachers in succeeding classes later on. The class was Anti-Gravity Fundamentals 1, where they teach you how to do simple inversions and flips. After a few stretches, we dove right into it. The flip.
Basic grip. Grab the hammock, thumbs in, hands at ear level.
Push the hammock down to your sacrum.
Bend backwards and lift your legs.
Engage the core.
Chin to chest. Knees to chest.
Use your arms to pull yourself up.
Engage the core.
Look at the floor.
Remember: Where you look is where you land.
And I did the flip.
That last part was the most useful bit. Where you look is where you land. Looking at the floor not only anchors the eyes, but your mind and entire body. I tried looking elsewhere — the window, the mirror, the upsidedown butt of the woman behind me — and became quite disoriented. It was the first real trick I learned at AGY that helped me with my practice. Eyes on the prize.
I began classes with the very superficial goal of losing weight and getting a world class ass — for a boy. I left the class having been taught a lesson in mindfulness. Doing every little thing with purpose. Setting at a goal and never losing sight of it, so you don’t fall flat on your face. Or worse, hurt yourself. Like the Harrison Hammock that carried my weight, I was hooked. I figured I deserved a reward for doing my best on my first day, and bought myself some donuts.
(Image by my baby bunny CARISSA BAUTISTA)