A fresh approach

Uplift Maui aerial classes at Hotel Wailea stretch the imagination

For a new way to practice asanas, try aerial yoga,   Photo courtesy Uplift Maui

For a new way to practice asanas, try aerial yoga, Photo courtesy Uplift Maui

At Hotel Wailea, Relais & Chateaux, a fresh approach to yoga can help make the process of balancing mind and body as smooth as silk.

Uplift Maui, a fitness and wellness provider, recently launched aerial yoga and aerial dance classes at the adults-only resort. These new workout classes combine the gentle support of a participant’s body weight with suspended equipment, building strength in new and fun ways.

“Our aerial yoga classes are designed to properly align and lengthen the body more efficiently, and the use of silks helps create a sense of playfulness,” said Andrea “Dre” Fors, the owner of Uplift Maui who started holding classes in the hotel’s open-air studio a few months ago.

Aerial yoga combines traditional mat yoga with postures that are partially suspended in a soft, silk hanging hammock. The sling allows the body to feel supported while encouraging the release of tension. The use of gravity can help participants find correct postural alignment, increase strength, aid in digestion and improve balance. Each 70-minute class is led by Fors, a certified yoga, Pilates and aerial dance instructor, and the classes are open to adults of all ages and ability levels.

“If you’ve ever wondered what it feels like to fly, you’ll love this,” said Christy Stesky, director of marketing at the hotel. “We’re always striving to enhance the guest experience, and we believe offering new and unique activities such as aerial yoga will leave a lasting impression with guests.”

or get a taste of the circus with dance trapeze.   Photo courtesy Uplift Maui

or get a taste of the circus with dance trapeze. Photo courtesy Uplift Maui

Fors said aerial yoga has been gaining popularity in the past few years, but it started to evolve well over a decade ago. Aerial arts in general have become more popular with the emergence of contemporary circuses such as Cirque du Soleil, she said, and aerial yoga involves merging the circus aspect with traditional mat yoga.

A lot of the postures, or asanas, that are done on a mat can be taken into the air or even upside-down, she said.

“At most times, at least one body part is touching the mat, however, there are times when we are completely supported by the silk, and it is such a freeing feeling to be weightless,” she said.

For Maui residents or those visiting for an extended period, Uplift Maui also offers five-week dance trapeze and aerial silks class series. The contemporary classes merge the art of dance with circus-inspired movements and encourage self-expression. Students will learn techniques on and around the aerial equipment and progress into combining the methods into short sequences and eventually a choreographed dance.

In the aerial silks classes, for example, students learn different climbs, wraps and drops. Dance trapeze is a little less common, Fors said, and her classes employ a single-point trapeze that is low to the floor and combines floor movement with circus skills. Prior experience is not required and all students receive hands-on support and guidance by Fors, who has been teaching aerial dance for 17 years. She hopes to add beginner drop-in classes for those who want to test out the experience before diving into a series.

Drop-in aerial yoga classes are available to hotel guests and the public and start at $30. Package discounts are available, as are kamaaina rates and specials. Private and semi-private lessons are available for the aerial activities, including yoga, silks and dance trapeze, as well as floor yoga.

Fors compares trying an aerial yoga class to dancing with a new partner and learning how to adjust to something a little different.

“You have to get to know your ‘partner’ (the silk), and as you get to practice more, you become more comfortable. The more comfortable you are, the more you trust your ‘partner,’ and then you just relax completely and let go, and you find your fit,” she said. “As your practice deepens, you can use the silk to go into more advanced postures and add more strength work and play.”

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