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Tracy Briggs, Published January 01 2014

The Great Indoors: Aerial yoga a relaxing workout

I’m a sucker for the newest fitness trends. Whatever the latest buzz, I usually like to give it a try (except maybe that Prancercise thing. That lady kind of freaks me out). So when my friend Nicole Phillips started posting on Facebook about how much she was loving aerial yoga, I thought, why not give it a try?

She directed me to her yoga instructor Andrea Coombs, the owner of Vayu yoga studio in north Fargo. Vayu (which means air) has been open since September. Coombs offers many classes, including heated yoga, restorative yoga and hoop dance. Her aerial classes are among the most popular.

As you walk into the comfortable studio, you see nine huge hammock-like things hanging from the ceiling. My first thought was, “She wants me to somehow climb into that thing?” She told me the hammocks are sturdy and can hold up to 2,000 pounds, which was a relief since I’m just slightly under that now following the great Christmas cookie inhalation of 2013.

Most of the other students in the class had been there before. So I was a little intimidated, but Coombs promised to take care of me. The two women in the hammocks next to me were also very nice in helping me not get too tangled up in the yards of fabric. (They didn’t even seem to mind when my flailing, misbehaving legs continually bumped into them.)

I found the class to be a combination of a lot of things. We stretched into traditional yoga poses with the help of the hammock and also used it to build our upper-body strength. Coombs, of course, made it look easy. I had limited success with some of the strength moves since I have the upper-body strength of a flea.

I most enjoyed the artistry and acrobatics of hanging and swinging in the hammocks. We pointed our toes, laid our heads back and sometimes hung upside down. I felt swanlike and graceful like a Cirque de Soleil performer or even Pink when she performed her aerial routine at the 2010 Grammys. I might not have looked like them, but I felt like them, and that’s what really counts. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

After the pulling and posing, we ended class by lying inside our hammocks. Now we’re talking. I felt cradled in the giant hammock, the folds of fabric hugging me like a giant cocoon. Soft music played and Coombs lightly sprayed lemongrass into our hammocks and gave a quick squeeze to our toes. Yes, please. Can I never leave?

As I walked out the door, I felt both strong and relaxed. And maybe just a little like a graceful goddess, whether I looked like one or not.

Watch “The Great Indoors” with Tracy Briggs every Thursday on www.InforumTV.com.