Are you brave enough to get off the ground with aerial yoga?

Just thinking about a relatively new sort of yoga, called aerial yoga, made my heart race. I finally convinced myself that I'd stop short of anything that felt too off-balance or too acrobatic and went to Kinship in Highland Park. I needn't have worried; aerial arts — people high above the floor doing jaw-dropping moves holding on to fabric attached to the ceiling — looks scary. But my yoga class felt great and supportive — and close enough to the ground.

Kinship is a big studio, and our class was in a pretty, brick-walled room with high ceilings. The floor was covered in soft mats, and each student had a "hammock," a light fabric hanging from the ceiling that could be bunched in your hands or spread out, like a sling.


Kinship, 5612 N. Figueroa St.;


The teacher, Veronica DeSoyza, teaches a program called AIReal, developed by Carmen Curtis, a yogi who was looking to get back into shape after childbirth. DeSoyza says it's a good method for anyone trying to heal from an injury or new to yoga and perhaps somewhat inflexible. The corpse pose at the end of class — traditionally a time to lie still on the floor — was done wrapped cocoon-like in the fabric, floating in the air. It was blissful. DeSoyza quite rightly called it "womb-like."


The idea is to use the hammock to support the feet, hands or other parts of the body during poses. For example, for a plank pose, we put one foot into the hammock, hands on the floor and then lifted the other foot into the cloth. The technique makes balancing a little easier because the fabric firmly holds you up and if you sway a little it doesn't matter.


Sometimes, I felt I was working harder than in a traditional yoga class and taking more chances. I had to take a deep breath to try the inverted star pose — the fabric wrapped around the hips to support us as we tipped upside down, arms and legs spread outward; my star was a little fractured. From there, more accomplished practitioners can move into a handstand. At other times, I had an appealing sense of lightness, thanks to the support of the fabric. The pace was steady and not too fast.


$15, with packages available.