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A new balance


August 2012

Yoga is not just for the mat anymore. Downward dog and warrior poses take on a new twist as local yoga studios are taking to the air when it comes to performing the ancient discipline.

Alyssa Konda, owner of Reaching Treetops Yoga in Waukesha, has added aerial yoga to the list of classes she offers to students. Large silk hammocks hang from the ceiling, which students use as they go through a yoga routine.

"Because you are moving and hanging, thereís a little bit of psychology that goes with it," says Konda.

Aerial yoga began in California 10 years ago, blending the ideas of aerial artists and yoga masters.

An alluring aspect of aerial yoga is being able to get into positions you may not be able to on a traditional yoga mat. But itís also about trusting a tangible piece of fabric. "You fight some demons to rely on the silk ... it makes a perfect marriage to have to rely on your body, mind and soul," says Andrea Smessaert, an instructor at Reaching Treetops.

Besides testing your strength and trust, Konda explains that aerial yoga can have therapeutic effects for people by allowing them to hang inverted from the sling, much like an inversion table at a chiropractorís office. It aids in lengthening the spine and creates openings in the joints, says Konda.

"Youíre using gravity in a different direction," adds Smessaert.

As far as positions, "the options are endless with the hammock because of the ability to fly," says Smessaert.

Reaching Treetops Yoga is the only certified aerial yoga studio in the area, according to Konda. The staff was trained and certified at Airacat in Boulder, Colo.

One look and you may wonder how you are able to keep a grip on that fabric to avoid crashing to the floor. Konda says itís key to apply resin to your hands prior to class to help keep the fabric in place.

For more information, visit

Feel the flow

If youíre looking for a way to change up your Vinyasa flow, sync up with Movement Center Pewaukee, which now offers a stand-up paddle board yoga class on Pewaukee Lake.

"We perform an entire yoga class on the board," says owner Rhonda Arndorfer. "In order to do your poses, you have to be connected to your core or you will fall in the water."

Surprisingly, they havenít had any students fall in the drink just yet. The class is for everyone from beginners through advanced, and you can wear your swimsuit or your yoga clothes. Paddle board yoga is $20 for one class or $60 for a four-week session.

Looking for another way to loosen your spine? Movement Center Pewaukee also offers flying yoga, which blends partner yoga, acrobatics and partner Thai massage in a 90-minute class.

For information on either class, check out



This story ran in the August 2012 issue of: