Thursday, August 22

Four Elements Yoga | Austin, TX

That sweet, lil bunny face was the mascot of our class—and the only good thing I can report about this experience, unfortunately. Buckle up, I have to conquer a bad review, which I hate doing more than anything on this blog. <sigh>

LOCATION: Hoofing it around Austin again, there really is so much construction I can't imagine driving anywhere around here. But this city will be gorgeous in a couple years. That being said, pretty easy to find and near my hotel, so bonus!   
STUDIO: I liked the set up of this space, which is upstairs from a restaurant. Two practice spaces (one with aerial yoga and one with aerial silks). The instructor told us the space was built for the aerial work—with reinforced steel beams that are high enough to allow some decent air between the silks and the ground, if needed. There was a bathroom I didn't check, when you walk in the front door you're immediately greeted by the front desk. I do wish I would have known which room we were going into, we all hung out in the reception area until class started. And that was awkward.
CLASS DESCRIPTION:  Aerial Asana (All Levels)—Aerial yoga is a unique class blending yoga and aerial work. Yoga asanas or poses are practiced in, around and supported by a fabric hammock similar the ones you might see an acrobat dance in at the circus. Aerial yoga can be a gentle and restorative class for those who wish to stretch and move at a slow and gentle pace; aerial yoga can also be tailored to the more advanced practitioner looking to deepen and explore poses in a new way. This type of yoga is easy adaptable to any fitness level and a perfect place to begin working towards inversions with the gentle support of the fabric. Yes, tricks, flips, spinning, swinging and conditioning in the air are also available for the adventurous at heart! $25 (I paid online to reserve my spot, I highly recommend this for Aerial classes, if you just show up there's a good chance you won't get in).
INSTRUCTOR: Lydia: Lydia is Four Elements Co-owner, having opened Four Elements blending her life-long love of movement and her understanding of healing through movement. Lydia has a bachelors in Psychology having graduated Summa Cum Laude from St. Edward's. It was during her time studying psychology that she began to understand how movement, dance, yoga and aerial arts can offer deep change and lasting healing and personal transformation. Lydia put her PhD aspirations on hold indefinitely and instead turned her energies to sharing the inspiration and passion for aerial movement and aerial yoga that she had discovered. Aerial Yoga confronts your limits, trust, fear, self-love, are just some of the areas that you can expect transformation in Lydia's Aerial Asana classes. She strives to make aerial movement accessible to everyone and welcomes the brand-new beginner! Expect to break through your barriers!

So... yeah. I really did try to question myself. Are you reading this wrong? Are you being sensitive? Are you staying open? No. No. Yes. We started off class talking about what people needed, as Lydia brought down the swings from the ceiling (which was a really smart set up, by the way, short of the fact you can't adjust them for different people's heights). I asked for shoulder openers, as I often ask for—saying I spend a lot of time in front of a computer. Lydia dismissed that pretty quickly saying, "Yeah, we all do that." Ok.

Lydia moved me to a new location, so I could swing freely of walls, but she moved me to a swing that was too tall for me. At this point, I'm staying quiet to see how this all unfolds. This is only my third class, so maybe she has something different in mind I haven't experienced yet. We then spend probably half the class working with arm strength + shoulder openers (my biggest weaknesses on both accounts, so this is needed!). But with every shoulder opening she would walk over to me and say, "Open up! You need to move your shoulders back and down." She would try to guide my shoulders back further. She even went so far to say, "You asked for this, that's why I'm picking on you." We pick on people in yoga classes? Finally on the last, frustrating instruction from her I say, "Sorry, that's as far as they go—it's why I asked for shoulder openers." Yep, Lydia, I spend over 15 hours a day at a computer. Maybe that's more than what everyone does....

But I honestly wasn't irritated at this point—swear. It's the whole class that built up to my current disappointment. We eventually move into some downward dogs (that I can barely touch the floor for + the swing is now digging into my hips—and at this point I realize there are other ladies struggling with the wrong heights of their swings too. Lydia does instruct me to get a towel to pad the swing. Saying we have to fidget with the swings to get them to work with us—sure, totally agree. But starting with the correct height would do me wonders at this point). We learn to activate the back muscles and to fly/swing back and forth. This is fun. One women struggles with this pose, and the instruction to her is also a bit abrasive. Then we go into a position where we stand in the swing with both feet and basically move into a position which frees our feet and we're using our arm strength to hold ourselves up. Again, I have horrible arm strength, so this wasn't successful. But, as always, I try challenging poses three times to help train my brain into a new way of activity for my body—knowing at the very least I'm going in a good direction, even if I can't accomplish the position. After those three times I wait patiently as others work on the pose + admire those who have been working with this class for awhile. Lydia checks in, "Are you doing ok?" Not in a nurturing way, so much as it seemed to be in a "You're in over head, aren't you." kind of way. I responded with, "Yep, great! Thank you."

We then move to sitting in the swing—and this is just horrible timing, but the bunny decided to flop on his side and show us all his belly. No one else noticed this but me, and so I was the only one who let out a giggle when Lydia asks us all to sit in the swing. She responds with, "You think it's funny to sit in the swing?" ... pause, it's official, she doesn't like me. "Um, no, I think it's funny that bunny flopped over and showed us all his belly."

So... we go into some upside down hanging poses, which feels so good on the spine. Lydia is definitely excited by more advanced students—which I know has to be pretty normal for instructors, but at this point in the class I'm just insulted.

And then we're asked to watch as Lydia demonstrates the harder moves that some of us may not be able to do (ahem, Anni)... she then flips into the only three moves I know how to do on my home set up (did I mention I put in an aerial swing in my garage? I love it, but definitely need some more classes so I can do more than these three positions):

gargoyle, vampire, and shoulder stand

So—I get into the swing, I flip around into all three poses and I decide to take advantage of some core work and hold the shoulder stand for as long as possible. Now I have Lydia's attention—she compliments me on my core strength, but unfortunately, it's just too late. There's no way we can connect during this class. I've checked out. I'm so disappointed. In my other aerial classes I've had so much fun, never feeling judged for my abilities (or lack there of), but thanks to the internal awkward moments of "No, really, I'm ok... I know I'm a curvy girl who looks like she has no fitness what so ever, but I got this." Or the other funny moment for me—when Lydia first asked if I mind being adjusted, I thought she said, "Do you like tex mex?" Surely she didn't say that, "Huh?" Again, "Do you like tex mex?" Ok fine, I do, "Sure!" She then went to adjust me... oh... curvy girl is apparently a little hungry too, lol.

I really would like to think that Lydia and I just weren't on the same page—she seemed amazing with her regulars. But if I were to visit Austin again, and this studio, I would opt for a different instructor.

2 responses:

  1. I really treasure your piece of work, Great post.

    1. Thank you so much! The disappointing reviews are so hard to write, I hate to put bad mojo out there... But I also can't lie about it or pretend it never happened. So I really appreciate your encouragement! *heart*