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I was dangling upside down and swaying. But, believe it or not, I was fully relaxed.
I was taking an aerial yoga class offered by Uplift Maui. These classes have earned high praise since their November 2016 debut at Hotel Wailea, Relais & Chateaux, which is the only resort on Maui to feature aerial yoga. (These classes are available to both guests and nonguests of the property.)
According to Uplift Maui owner Andrea Fors, this unique approach to wellness aims to balance mind and body in fun new ways.
At the beginning of our class, each of us was assigned a suspended sling that gently supported our body weight. Resembling soft hammocks, the equipment allowed us to feel supported as we bent our bodies and stretched. (This is great for people with joint issues who find traditional yoga poses to be difficult.)
“Do only what you’re comfortable doing,” Fors said. “Think of the silks as a dance partner, someone you can work with together.”
Her analogy was spot-on. Sometimes my silks wanted to go their own way, but I gradually learned how to trust them. Gravity was an additional factor; I looked for the happy medium between mastering the moves and making sure I didn’t fall.
Fors — a certified teacher of yoga, Pilates and aerial dance — knew her stuff, and she deftly instructed and inspired us. She started with simple movements, allowing us to get used to the ebb and flow of our slings while encouraging us to release our tension. Eventually, the positions grew complicated yet more satisfying, culminating in a meditative handstand — something I couldn’t do under my own power.
The outdoor environment also enhanced our 70-minute class. We were swinging and swaying in the hotel’s circular wellness studio, which is perched on a hillside. Soothing breezes drifted through open windows, and I could see the ocean and hear the rustling palm fronds. It was almost surreal, as if I was floating in the clouds.
In addition to daily classes, Fors dreams up special aerial yoga events. In honor of Valentine’s Day, she presented a couples’ class with aphrodisiacal mocktails and a “lovers’ kit” that included potions and a candle. She coordinates aerial yoga gatherings for Maui visitors, such as girlfriend getaways and corporate team-building events. Last but not least, she’s in the process of developing wellness retreats at Hotel Wailea; the itinerary encompasses an individual health assessment, personalized nutrition coaching, yoga, aerial yoga, relaxation, meditation, massage and excursions.
Fors explained that incorporating gravity into traditional yoga provides many benefits, including the opportunity to correct posture; increase strength; and improve balance and digestion. But for me, the beauty of aerial yoga is the simple act of hanging loose in paradise.
The price for an Uplift Maui aerial yoga session begins at $35 per person, with some classes offered free to Hotel Wailea guests. Anyone 16 years or older is welcome to participate. Clients who want to take the technique to the next level can try Fors’ classes in aerial silk-climbing and dance trapeze.