By Shannon Bohle – [email protected]
Class performs Aerial Yoga.
Nicole Hoehn, St Marys, instructor at Just Breathe Health and Wellness studio in Minster, teaches Arial Yoga techniques to her students on Monday, Feb. 21.
Steve Egbert | Sidney Daily News
Julia Sewell, New Knoxville, takes part in a class at Just Breathe Health and Wellness yoga studio in Minster on Monday, Feb. 21.
Steve Egbert | Sidney Daily News
Aerial Yoga instructor, Nicole Hoehn, performs the “Mermaid Pose” along with class members Julia Sewell and Abbey Giere.
MINSTER — If you’ve ever wanted to fly like a superhero, this is the next best thing.
Aerial Yoga instructor Nicole Hoehn, lives in St. Marys and drives about 20 minutes each way to teach a small, one-hour class of up to nine students in a small Minster studio. But that’s not nearly as far as some of her students drive to participate. That is, if they are lucky enough to snag an open spot from her cancellation list. Some of Hoehn’s regular students spend more than an hour on the road round-trip — one drives about two hours from Ottawa and another an hour and a half from Troy.
The classes offer a myriad of health benefits. Like traditional yoga, the sessions employ calming meditation and controlled breathing exercises that help to clear the mind to focus on the present moment. And, like traditional yoga, students progress over time, learning to stretch and bend, and contort themselves into ever-more complex physical poses and positions that have names that make one feel more in touch with nature, like “tree” and “frog” and “mountain.”
What is different about aerial yoga, to begin with, is the tone of the classes.
Traditional yoga classes are serious and quiet as students focus on their ability to achieve specific poses. Aerial yoga, on the other hand, is easygoing and involves a lot of laughter and having fun.
“It is literally uplifting,” Hoehn said.
Just watching the students can be enjoyable. Viewing an aerial yoga class in action is a visually interesting and colorful experience, which is why it appeals to many people who have an existing interest in dance and artistic body performance. Aerial dance competitions are held nationally, for those with the inclination.
Most of Hoehn’s students, however, are much more easygoing. They come for the fun and the challenge, as well as the health benefits.
A typical class begins with breathing exercises, a yoga warm-up on mats using the hammocks that are strung from the ceiling, and then stretching that turns into poses that are upside-down or up in the air, including handstands.
What is interesting is that aerial yoga allows just about any traditional yoga pose to be done so that the practitioner is “inverted” or “flying,” such as “inverted frog” and “flying mountain.” Various combinations of poses can turn into their own position, like “acrobat woman,” which begins as an “inverted frog” and then the practitioner pulls him or herself up the hammock higher and higher, until the hammock is wrapped around the legs while swinging upside down.
This is probably one of the most challenging positions Hoehn has tried so far.
“I’m at the point where I’m trying to do more difficult stuff and challenging myself,” Hoehn said, who before being certified in aerial yoga in 2018, had taken traditional yoga classes for 10 years.
Another pose that is difficult, but one which her students have come to master is called the “mermaid” pose.
“It’s a lot of upper body strength and you are literally wrapping yourself up in the hammock and pulling yourself up and twisting,” Hoehn said.
Some of the poses involve going several feet off the ground and swinging, while others involve acrobatic moves like front and back flips while suspended in the air and supported by the hammock.
Hoehn says she loves teaching aerial yoga because her students end up feeling so empowered. “My students are like, ‘I can’t believe I just did that!’ That’s why I love it so much.”
While those with health conditions like high blood pressure and vertigo need to inform instructors before participating in aerial yoga, the exercise is for anyone hoping to get a full-body workout and build upper-body strength. The hammocks can support up to 500 pounds, so those looking for a fun activity to help overcome obesity and get into shape, need to look no further.
The current classes going on are for adults but starting in March there will be “pop-up” classes for kids, and during the summer months, classes for boys and girls will also be available. These classes are divided into three age groups: 5 to 7, 8 to 11, and teens.
To attend the class, aerial yoga students should wear leggings or loose-fitting pants. Superhero capes are optional.
Just Breathe Health and Wellness, located at 4249 State Route 66 in the Minster Plaza, can be reached by calling 419-501-2378 or emailing [email protected] Owner Kimberly Oen is a 500 HR Registered Yoga Teacher with over 4,000 teaching hours and is trained in trauma sensitive yoga. The studio offers classes in traditional yoga, aerial yoga, Thai yoga massage, Pilates, Reiki and more.
To learn more, visit the Just Breathe Health and Wellness website at justbreathehealthandwellness.com, or follow their social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram.
By Shannon Bohle
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