Aerial: The Weightless Discipline

Dancing without touching the floor, flying without having wings, dropping without falling. Whatever you call it, that one word is all that matters. Without…is all that matters.

Imagine a place without the presence of the burdens we carry, without the weight of the decisions we make, or the actions we take. Don’t you already feel lighter just by thinking about it? Would you call that feeling, freedom? I would, because that is exactly how I feel being hugged by the hammock up in the air, defying gravity. My body feels light, even though it’s not. Up there, under the hooks, I am nothing but heavy. My body is heavy, my fear of falling is heavy, yet I feel light.

How do I do that? I push through the pain of each wrap, I get over the bruising that comes with it, I embrace the pain in my muscles the day after…I do it all for the freedom of feeling weightless. Yes, feeling weightless and free sum up what makes me pack my bag and leave for my next aerial class.

The class where I learn what the aerial discipline is; just one of the many acrobatic disciplines performed in circuses around the world. It is a combination of strength moves and flexibility poses combined to form a different type of moving sensation, presented to the audience using different aerial apparatuses. Apparatuses such as the basic aerial hammock hung with its ends tied on to one or two hooks, forming a swing used for aerial yoga or sling, or bent over and hung on to one hook, forming two separate long fabrics used for silks.

Other than the above-mentioned, apparatuses such as aerial rope, aerial straps, aerial trapeze, aerial hoop or Lyra, aerial pole, and many more build the air discipline called aerial.

But it’s not all about fun. Many health conditions can be improved by practicing aerial. Just like the back condition I have; when I started my aerial journey two years ago, I did so, out of hopelessness. It was my last year of university and I used to sit down with my books most of the days and move very little. That made the pain I had in my back grow and nothing I tried could make it less intense; until I found out about aerial fitness and gave it a try. All the hanging, strength exercises, and stretching we did in that first class, made my back feel better and I didn’t want it to stop.

That is why I kept coming back to the hammock, embraced my fear, and moved from the low and static hammock used in aerial yoga to the higher and rotating hammock used in the aerial sling. And that is only the beginning.

My dream is to try each and every aerial apparatus there is, but unfortunately, not all of them are available yet in the place I live. The place I was born and raised in – the city of Skopje. But my hope for their arrival in Skopje never ceases. Yet if they don’t, I am willing to try them all somewhere else.

Now, before I end this adventure I took you on, I want to let you know that aerial can be practiced by anyone regardless of age, height, weight, gender, or level of physical activity. Trying one so-called inverted pose where the body is turned upside down was all it took me to fall in love with aerial. I believe everyone should give aerial a try and join the aircraft of the weightless discipline.

Teodora Drakuloska

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