“Are you nervous?” asks Michelle Brown-Araneta, one of the instructors and owners of Beyond Yoga’s Alabang branch. The fear must have been written all over my face. I respond with a shaky “A little bit…?” I have never tried yoga and this particular one involved getting my feet off the ground and turning upside down.
Opened last September 2013, Beyond Yoga located at Westgate Center offers Yoga (Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Jivamukti, and sessions for kids, among others), Dance and Tone (Zumba), Beyond Signature Class (Beyond Sculpt), and AntiGravity Fitness classes. They also have a Disco Zumba and Disco Flying Fitness (with awesome disco lights!). What’s unique with the Alabang branch is the boutique with their line of yoga and fitness apparel called Red Bomb and the café which will open in the coming months.
Per session rates are at P450 (dance), P550 (yoga) and P1,000 (AntiGravity Fitness). First-timers get 50% off in their first drop-in yoga or dance class while you and your friend can avail of a 30% discount on both your chosen packages (applies to coach, business class, first class and frequent flyer packages) if you enroll with a friend. And if you complete their 30-day challenge, you can get 30% off on your next package plus a week of unlimited yoga pass that you can share with family and friends.
Trust the hammock
As we went inside the studio, Michelle told me to just have fun with it. The class was, after all, called AG (which stands for AntiGravity) FUNdamentals. Just do as the yogis do, I thought.
AntiGravity Yoga was created by Christopher Harrison, an American director and Broadway choreographer, who also invented the silk hammock being used for the aerial yoga routine.
Before class began, the hammocks were adjusted to our height to ensure safety. The hammock is bolted to the ceiling and will be able to hold your weight just fine (every portion of it is rated for over 2,000 pounds). “You have to trust the hammock,” says Paulo Leonido, also one of Beyond Yoga’s instructors.
The instructions are easy to follow: with the hammock behind you, hook your thumbs to the edge of the cloth with your arms outstretched. Then grab six handfuls, take a few steps back and lift yourself onto the hammock. We used the hammock as a swing both with hands (clutching the sides) and no hands (arms outstretched, gleeful screaming).
But the most exciting part of course is doing the inversions. It’s normal to feel dizzy on your first inversion but you’ll get used to it after two or three times. We did poses such as “The Bat” and “The Monkey”. We also went up the “Mountain Peak” and flapped our pretty “Angel Wings”. I struggled a bit with the 360-degree flip and Michelle gladly helped me get my feet back on the ground.
To close the session, we did the “cocoon” and lay inside the hammock with our eyes closed while Paolo asked us to visualize ourselves at the beach. It was relaxing to be suspended like that and for a few minutes the monkeys in my head sat still.
Beyond the mat
Beyond Yoga also has a community class (that’s every Saturday from 3:00pm – 4:15pm in Alabang) wherein the class fees are donated to Yoga for Life, an organization co-founded by Paulo.
“The community class is a partnership between Beyond Yoga and Yoga for Life. We provide donation-based classes and community-building classes in line with our advocacy, which is HIV awareness,” says Paulo. Yoga for Life promotes yoga and meditation as a complementary therapy in HIV treatment and acts as a support group to those living with it.
It may sound intimidating because of the “anti-gravity” part but AntiGravity Yoga is something that Michelle and Paolo can recommend for beginners in the practice of yoga.
The whole experience reminded me of a line from one of Neil Gaiman’s New Year messages: "And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself." I did a few mental cartwheels on the way home.
Beyond Yoga Alabang is located at Westgate Center, Filinvest, Alabang, Muntinlupa. For inquiries, you may call (02) 831-2211, 0917-721-2095 and 0939-930-9642 or e-mail email@example.com. You may also visit www.igobeyondyoga.com.
Additional photos courtesy of Beyond Yoga.