Monday, February 24

Swing 101: Foundations for Flight | Yoga Downtown Tampa | Tampa, FL

LOCATION: This time it was extra easy to get to, as my mom just dropped me off. But, from my last visit to the studio, I know it's an easy drive close to the exit. There is free parking on the street over the weekends, but also there's parking behind the building that is free all the time (be sure to grab a business card off the check-in desk and put it on your dash). 
$20 each or $35 for two (which will get you a discount for 102 if you're in the area or returning). You have to sign up on line because they only have nine spots available, and I would be sure to do it a couple weeks ahead of time. 
STUDIO:  The studio is small and it was fun to see how it has changed since my last visit—the greenery has grown out front and the decor in the front section has changed. But the mural, swings, and bathroom/prop area are still the same. 
CLASS DESCRIPTION: Swing 101 + 102 are required before being able to take our regularly scheduled swing classes so you'll be prepared to fly in our regularly scheduled classes (this is obviously new since my last visit—or they were kind enough to let me into the last class. Regardless, I think it's a smart idea). This is the space to bring out your inner child, inner Cirque du Soleil performer, or just have some fun! Learn to work with the fabric and experience your practice in new and creative ways in this fun and supportive environment. We'll lay the foundation for aerial practice, starting from the ground and guiding you into flight! Release tension, build flexibility, and challenge your body and mind in new ways. You'll finish with an extended savasana as you float on air to leave you feeling deep bliss!
INSTRUCTOR: Monica completed her 200-hour Vinyasa Flow training with Frog Lotus Yoga International and my 500-hour advanced training with Asheville Yoga Center. She will always be a student of the practice and is deeply grateful for the wisdom her teachers have shared with her. In classes, Monica loves to combine fun music, creative sequencing, and a dose of inspiration to help you deepen your practice. She seeks to help others thrive in life by nurturing body, mind, and soul with yoga, and hopes you step off the mat feeling refreshed, nourished, and balanced.

Since I've put in an aerial swing into my garage I've been craving swing classes for some time. Then second I get home I suddenly only remember two poses from start to finish. Knowing I was returning to Tampa I immediately looked up YDT's schedule and was ecstatic to find they were hosting a 101 workshop!

Monica was such a kind instructor from start to finish—and start was online when I screwed up my reservation and she patiently walked me through that process (maybe this was a sign of my inability to follow directions for yoga in Florida? See A Yoga Village review or Green Locus review). She started us off my everyone introducing themselves and if they had done swing yoga before. Everyone was brand new to the experience and their stories were so interesting. One student had recently  conquered ovarian cancer and she was younger than me. One student was from Danville, just outside of where I currently live. Two ladies came in together and cracked me up during the class, as friends always have great side comments to one another when they're trying something new... or in general, for that matter. It was a fun vibe in the room.

We warmed up our bodies for some swing work, focusing on hands, wrists and forearms because of how often you use your upper body. Then we immediately got in the swings. She had us sitting sideways in a folded leg pose, pulling ourselves up to adjust our ability to straighten our spines. Just like a sitting meditation used to open most yoga classes, but this time hanging in the air in your own little cocoon.

Then we went to hanging upside down immediately. This was smart, because the first few times you do this you're scared of trusting yourself and the fabric holding you there. Monica showed us a couple ways to get into the swing upside down which moved the fabric in different ways around your body. We learned to let go and arch our body into a few poses:
Then we took our leg stretches to the swing with a little balance work too. By placing your leg in the swing (like propping it up on ballet barre for forward folds and twists) you work more with gravity not only for the balance but also by leaning forward and having gravity take over on your body (or controlling that by activating your core, which is equally great). We did forward folds, twists, pigeon pose, and the beginning of splits:
Then we went into some poses that really break or make the experience based on your toleration, really. Folding forward over the swing and doing downward dogs or core work by hovering in the air can really dig into your hip crease. Monica supplied us with blankets—which makes a difference, so if you feel the least bit of uncomfortable, grab one. You'll thank me the next day—I'm currently speaking from my own experience.

We did a little actual swinging—which I like the least, park swings always make me nauseous. And we would also dismount by leaning back from the swinging position until we were reclined parallel to the ground and were instructed to let go of our hands and hover. I didn't think this was possible for my body, but I caught air for a split second and that was enough for me. Just the act of getting my brain to believe it can happen is half the battle, right?!

Our finale pose was a shoulder stand—which this one I knew and I unfortunately got carried away (sorry Monica) and went into a couple other poses  that Monica then demonstrated to everyone else. I felt bad about this, I honestly didn't think anyone was paying attention to me and I could just sneak them in... I felt like a jerk student. But shoulder stand is awesome—the fabric is holding you by the shoulders and you work the core to stay straight upside down.

Monica lead us into savasana, a reeeeeeeeally long one, it was glorious. We're all tucked into our cocoons hovering into pure relaxation. So amazing, thank you for doing that Monica!

It's a bit Invasion of the Body Snatchers to see it from this angle—
but glorious from the inside (which the aliens would say too, uh oh!)
I definitely recommend this—no matter what level of yoga you're at. It's playful, it's a new perspective on traditional poses, and it does some great upper body + core work. I adore it and am impatiently waiting for some fly yoga to come to Champaign, IL!

Thank you for an excellent class, Monica, I look forward to 102 with you!

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