• Jennifer Yusi

The Last Five Years


    It’s been 5 years since I started flying on a hammock and it feels weird to say. After you stick to something for half a decade, it makes one reflect. How did I get here? What made me stay? More importantly, what do I want to do with this?   I’m not questioning my interest. I still have a giant smile on my face after a practice. The elation I feel is 100% sincere. Only it feels like the time to look back about how it all came to be. 


Tantor


I’ve always been a scaredy-cat. As a kid, I ran away from bugs, I hated the thought of creepy crawlies on me, I have a debilitating fear of frogs,  I didn’t even like the sand on my feet. Remember the Disney movie Tarzan? I was the elephant, Tantor. In the film, He first appeared on the scene as a calf, slowly dipping his toes in the river, while asking his mother “Are you sure this water’s sanitary? It looks questionable to me.” c'est moi. For years I shied away from physical adventures. I was an indoor child. 



While I woman’d up and faced some of the things that made me grimace; Don’t get me wrong I faced alot–– Deep down I continued be Tantor. It was frustrating.


That Magic Feather

Then I went on a trip to the US of A about 10 years ago, My cousins took me to the San Diego County Fair. It was a massive event unlike the ones I saw in movies. It had rides, food and shopping__Probably too much shopping. As I was taking in the sites, I saw an attraction that pushed me to investigate further. Bungee Jumping. It was a 100 foot drop during sunset. There was an inexplicable pull when that sign caught my eye. While a rollercoaster lets you feel the speed of 128 miles per hour or less, you were still bound and strapped to a crazy train. When you’re strapped to a bungee, its just on your feet and on you to take the leap. There was something freeing about that thought. So I did it. 


“ For $75, I found out that there was one thing that I wasn’t afraid of. One thing that I was never going to be afraid of.”


I won’t bore you with the step-by-step process of how I was strapped and weighed to determine the right cord for me to use. I will tell you about my favorite part. It was a few seconds before I reached the hundredth foot on the crane. With  a loud clang the crane had reached the top of the platform, a very tall man opened a steel door that lead to a short plank where I was to make my jump. As he Opened the door, I caught the light of the sunset blazing through our tiny metal box. This warm wonderful orange that lights up your heart.Once I felt  the heat on my face I knew that I was going to make the choice to meet the sky. I know it sounds suicidal but it really isn’t. It was about a romantic twilight scene at that height coupled with  knowing that you would soon be part of that horizon if only for a millisecond. I felt no fear nor did I need a photo to commemorate the occasion or a push from the crane operator I went head on to meet the sun. No image could capture what I really experienced or felt. I took that leap, screamed with joy, finally laughed wholeheartedly as I was bounced back up by that bungee cord. That moment changed me from Tantor to Dumbo when he was given that magic feather.


For $75, I found out that there was one thing that I wasn’t afraid of. One thing that I was never going to be afraid of. It was as If I met a long lost friend from a past life. Kismet for less than a 100 bucks. 


Life Happened While Mind Found a Way


At the time, I didn’t realize that the bungee jump was a defining moment for me. I went on with my life as if it was just another crazy story to tell my girlfriends when I got back. I carried on. I came back to Manila, got  a job, which in turn led to me to another opportunity in Spain. I met someone who was going to turn out to be my husband in a few years etc.I took my magic feather, only to shelf it for the next 5 years. 


That moment in the San Diego County Fair defused into a favorite anecdote that I tell people over a beer. The end of it being that I wasn’t afraid of heights. In hindsight, I think I was subconsciously looking for that feeling again. Every so often I would be mesmerized with an acrobatic show or the olympics when the gymnasts would start. My browsing history would comprise of adult acrobatics classes. Later on these webpages led me to the Bryce Yoga Teacher Training site.   


There was something about this teacher team that caught my attention. They were a fitness-centric yoga program that had the endgame of teaching you handstands. It was a take-your-sweet-time approach to reaching your goals. An attractive selling point for a person who hated being rushed. I also liked the fact that they focused more on asana practice than the spiritual practice. It was the start of 2014 and I was slowly admitting to myself that while I still loved to teach, I wanted to teach something else. Yoga was an appealing choice because it was the form of exercise  I kept on going back to. Who was I kidding though! I can’t afford their training in Thailand–I’d need a car loan just to pay for it. Knowing that I couldn’t pay my way through the training. I closed the tabs on my safari shooting that pipe dream down. 


Still, my subconscious refused to surrender to my rationality. To accomplish the task I ended up searching for alternative means of fitness on google, other teacher trainings out there, fitness trends. My mind, in conjunction with my body knew that I wanted to do something else with my time. 


“ The first time you do aerial yoga, is like looking into a mirror. If it was your first time to discover what a mirror was and you were a cat. ”


Enter Aerial Yoga



It was August of 2014. It was my summer vacation in Manila. It had been approximately 3 years since I left my home country to work in Madrid, Spain. I left my adulting life to regress for 2 months. 60 days to pause about bills, paying taxes, cooking food, etc. I went back to mom’s house to be her daughter. That was my idea of vacation. Back to being the family pet amidst the other fauna we have in the house.

Once the jet lag baited, I looked for yoga studios nearby that accommodated walk-ins. I found a studio which; lo and behold had Aerial Yoga. It was actually Anti-gravity Yoga, a method developed by Aerial Choreographer, Christopher Garrison–just like that the magic feather appeared in my soul again. I signed up right away. It was an arm and a leg for a month-long pass but I decided that second to invest a third of my savings while milking my training for all they’re worth.   

I went to my first class the same day I found it it. It didn't stop me that the only session available at the time was a semi intermediate class. I admit, it probably  wasn’t the best choice. I didn’t care. I just wanted to give it a shot


“ Presence of mind was a do-or-die situation, and screaming. So much screaming.


And what a shot it was. The  First time you do aerial yoga, is like looking into a mirror. If it was your first time to discover what a mirror was and you were a cat. We started slow. Swinging, with the hammock while upright, shifting your weight around in different positions. I could do this, I thought. Then the inversions started. The basic inversion was fine. I felt quite safe in a harness despite the fact that the fabric cut into my skin or that the blood rushed all the way to my head. Gradually, we progressed to more difficult balances. The one I will have forever etched in my skull was a sequence called Coffin to Robin Hood. 



To do the coffin, you must wedge your shoulder and feet on the posts of the hammock and push as you lay back, converting the hammock into a tightrope. The Robin Hood is when you hook a leg up to the post wedged into you shoulder and keep your balance as you slide into an inversion. Oh, you have to go upside down hands free. Eheh!



Denial had no power here. You were immediately confronted with the strength, coordination and valor that you had or lacked. Presence of mind was a do-or-die situation, and screaming. So much screaming. I think the teacher hated me. It was the total destruction of calm. The only time I shut my cake hole was in savasanah––even then I snored from exhaustion. That day I was the teacher’s worst nightmare. Upon waking up from the apparatus, the teacher closed the class. My last thought was, Let’s do that again!


“So many teachers wanted to get in the band wagon of this facet of yoga teaching but few have gained actual substance in subject material to become a well-rounded instructor.”


No letting go now


This was it. The feeling I was searching for. The work I could do that wasn’t going to feel like work in the undertaking. I ground my nose to the browser and figured out how to make a career out of flying. Towards the end of research mode I realized that the yoga academy would be part of the steps in the process. 

Yoga was going to be the governing body that modeled what I wanted for my business. I am not in the entertainment industry and It was too late to start now. My goal from the get-go was to show people that it was never too late to try something new, gain a skill, more importantly; that it was never too late to feel like a kid again. I didn’t want to make professionals, I wanted people to see that the magic feather was available to anyone who wanted__maybe even needed it. Taking all this into consideration, knowing that yoga was going to be my umbrella, I set off to find the right education. Little did I know that there were already too many cooks. 


Spoiled the Broth


In 2015, Aerial Yoga and fitness was on the way to making a name   in the yoga industry. It generated buzz on a positive as well as a negative note. A party of purists claimed that it wasn’t real yoga, another faction said that B.K.S Iyengar started it all, and the mainstreamers agreed that it was time for something new to bridge the traditional with the contemporary. All that we can expect when something different comes along.  Aerial Yoga was the Ichabod Crane of Yoga with its cocky claims of a full body workout, increased mental focus, etc.  I didn’t care what people thought. I wanted to learn it. 

So far I’ve completed 3 trainings with 3 more on the way. Why did I spend so much time and money on trainings that were basically the same thing? Simple. The first 3 left me hanging educationally. So many teachers wanted to get in the band wagon of this facet of yoga teaching but few have gained actual substance in subject material to be a well-rounded instructor. I quickly deduced that low-cost means low standards, even when it is an industry that promotes sharing n' caring. 



This doesn’t mean that the trainings received were rendered useless. It just meant that it only went so far.  A boxer doesn’t become a professional knowing only the jab or straight, knowledge in aerial yoga doesn’t stop at level 1. As for me  I'm going to  quote the little mermaid and say,  I want more. 


“I can’t nor will aspire to please everybody. It is time to apply my newfound knowledge and see where it takes me. ”


After 3 busted ventures, my realizations led me to refine my vision career wise. I wasn’t for settling to be another  aerial yoga teacher. I wanted to know the therapeutic, conditioning and performance side of the aerial hammock. I yearned to learn on different types of slings with their assigned approaches to the apparati. I was/am convinced that this was the offering I'd make to set me apart from my colleagues.  


Which brings us to now


Currently, I have 3 more trainings to finish. I researched their methods, asked them a myriad of questions before I made the decision that they were the right fit for me. The few things I learned about this whole process was that the search for a good education involves every ounce patience you have. Once you do find it, it’s not a guarantee that it’ll be the one for you. The compatibility to your needs depends on your outlook.  Lastly, the world will never stop presenting you with new ideas. All of them will sound amazing but its on you to say enough is enough. I can’t nor will aspire to please everybody. It is time to apply my newfound knowledge and see where it takes me. 

I claim that my 2020 will be the culmination of my training and education for aerial hammock and floor vinyasa. It’s Time to let go of that magic feather because now

I can fly all on my own. 



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