Today, for the first time in a year and a half, I returned to my aerial yoga class at Soul Flyte. I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal – it’s just a workout class, right? Well, not exactly.
It takes a lot for me to make a commitment to something. Whatever the activity, I need to be challenged, and to feel that the effort that goes into the challenge is producing some positive effect for me. I also need to feel at least somewhat competent and consistent in said activity. Years ago, when I started this aerial yoga stuff, the basics were tough, but not beyond reach.
I spent several years getting better at some of the more difficult skills and postures. While I’d never match up to the 20-year-old rubber-band-acrobats who you see on the IG aerial pages, my late 40-something self was doing all right. The picture on the left is from January, 2020. February was the last time I flew before COVID shut everything down.
Last week was the first time I stepped foot in the Soul Flyte studio (see Smile – COVID Hasn’t Won). I remember feeling both apprehensive and excited, just smelling the air and seeing the familiar decor. Today, it was doubly so. At one time, I had been a “regular” there. Now, I felt a bit like a stranger. Of course, I wasn’t treated that way – Kate welcomed me with open arms and some of the faces that I remember also recognized me and I was able to engage in the pre-class chatter. But it did feel like I was starting all over again. Setting aside the nerves, I started to warm up, trying to recall my pre-workout routine. I was actually struggling to remember some of the movement rules that I had once taken for granted. I was definitely rusty.
The class was familiar. With each phase, my body remembered what to do. Kate is so adept as an instructor; she says all the right things, gives the right cues, and somehow makes everyone in the class feel “seen.” As a movement teacher, particularly one who is now in middle age, I am quite discerning about the people I trust as coaches. Under Kate’s guidance, I feel safe, both physically and emotionally, which I think is why I came back. I trusted that her consistency would help me navigate my temporary feeling of discomfort from having been away for so long. Fortunately, my instincts were right.
To be honest, I think I did well. Since I have been flipping at the gym regularly, my body wasn’t in shock and I held my own throughout the hour. I realized my grip strength left a lot to be desired, but I can work on that. And yes, I am rusty on some of the more difficult aerial combinations that the others seemed to do with ease, but that’s okay because they were always hard for me to do – challenge accepted. All I need to do is keep coming, keep working, and new skills will emerge.
After the class, one of the other “older” students (who has always impressed me with her flying skills) eagerly asked “you’re back now?” That made me feel good. It reinforced the feeling that yes, I belong there, and I can let the anxiety that arises from self-doubt go. Taking class is never about measuring your progress against others – it’s about taking a step forward on your own path, with others around you doing the exact same thing.
Shaky hands aside, I am so glad I stepped back onto the Soul Flyte path. It was another step closer to “normal” and I am grateful that the studio survived the pandemic. It’s a good reminder that self-doubt doesn’t serve you well. If you know what you can do, and you trust that you have the support around you to work through the struggles, it’s okay to meet a challenge, even if you are “coming back” after a long hiatus.
If you are looking to try a new and exciting yoga experience, Soul Flyte studio is in Nyack, New York. Check out their website at soulflyte.com.