Throughout our life, we tend to decide certain things about ourselves and our abilities. We tell ourselves, over and over again, what we like and what we don’t, what we are capable of doing and what is just way beyond our abilities. We make the mistake of putting ourselves into boxes which limit us much more than our mind and bodies actually do.
I truly believe that if anything, an event such as BaliSpirit Festival exists for us to challenge our previous ideas and reformulate or restructure the story we’ve been telling the world and ourselves about who we are and what we are capable of doing. It is an invitation to explore what we like at this precise moment in time, what has changed in our tastes and what we are ready for and eager to explore.
The Benefits of Hanging Upside Down
Here I am, completely upside down, smiling not only with my mouth but also with my whole heart in awe of what I’ve managed to do and how amazing it feels to be hanging from a belt that supports my whole body. I am not alone, there are several amazing instructors taking care of all of us at every single step of the way, and also around twelve other people who hang with me. Most of us are laughing in amusement, I can hear it.
And as I move through the class, I can feel how my muscles relax in a deep stretch and my whole spine decompresses allowing me to slowly and with no major effort work through my tensions and increase my range of motion.
There is something about this new type of movement that lures me in, so I find myself coming back over and over again just to play around for a bit, to ask a couple of questions, to hang for some seconds and to feel the deliciousness of an upside down world where I am light and my legs don’t have to carry the whole weight of my body.
You do not need to be standing on two feet to appreciate the world.
Changing our Point of View
What is it that makes FlyHighYoga so great? I ask myself as I swing confidently on the belt and launch my body in a backward bend. And the answer comes to me more as an intuition than as a unique truth: the change in perspective.
I’ve always been more of a swimmer than a yogi, and at some point, when I get down from the belt and my feet touch the ground an unconscious part of me recognizes that it feels as if I’ve just emerged from the swimming pool. Swimming and “flying” are both practices that work with less gravity, one could say. And in a way, that allows you to see and feel the world from a different point of view; one through the density of water and what I like to call “soaring in the pool” and the second one through allowing your body and mind to experiment different postures and sensations.
Meeting the Man Behind the FlyHighYoga
After two or three days of lurking around and having talked with many of the instructors I understand it is not only the exercise itself that makes it so special, it is the community surrounding it and the sense of achievement and braveness it conveys.
It is amazing to realize you are actually doing something that looks incredibly hard and which you never expected to be able to do. You feel like such a pro, challenging your body and your mind while receiving all the benefits of the movement.
I also get to meet the Jose Luis Jimenez, the founder of FlyHighYoga, who is not only in Bali but here, at BaliSpirit Festival, and lucky me, he has time for a couple of questions.
José Luis is a friendly welcoming Spaniard who accepts the hail of questions I throw his way. For this, I am grateful because it allows me to understand more about it and also gets me into it in such a way that I seriously consider taking it as a new practice or joy of mine.
FlyHighYoga comes from a tradition of Iyengar yoga which you can feel in the depth and importance given to alignment in each position. In Iyengar yoga, sometimes ropes (called Kurunta) are used to aid the practitioner to achieve a greater extension and a deeper practice. These ropes can be pegged to the wall and it is from them that Jose Luis got the inspiration to create the hanging belt, since he could see how most people enjoyed greatly the ropes which made the class more playful. In a way, it could be said that FlyHighYoga keeps the traditional elements of Iyengar yoga, with more fun and attractive flare.
“Actually FlyHighYoga is a chameleonic practice so whatever practice you have, you can adapt it. For example if you practice Ashtanga you can use the belt to achieve more range of motions and get deeper into each pose. You can adapt it or make it a practice itself.” Jose Luis
What is The Main Difference Between FlyHighYoga & Aerial Yoga
The main difference between this two gravity defying practices is the prop. While in Aerial Yoga you would use a prop that resembles a hammock in FlyHighYoga belt or strap. The Hammock has its advantages and disadvantages, it may be more comfortable and allow for sitting and longer poses. The belt can be adjusted in height and takes less space in terms of a classroom, but the most important thing is the height adjustment, because this makes it more precise, and only a shift in 1cm can change completely the posture. The hammock is cool because it is more aesthetic and allows for nice postures, but the belt is a more precise, portable and it is easier to use when aligning the body hanging or when using it on the floor.
Is It All Play & No Mindfulness?
“In FlyHighYoga we have five pillars that are common to every class: Mindfulness, integrity meaning that the teacher has to know about anatomy and what they are doing, fun, courage because sometime it is scary, and finally community.” José Luis
Different from most types of yoga I have tried before, FlyHighYoga is a practice that revolves around community, laughter, and playfulness which makes it lighter and more appealing to some of us, but when I question Jose Luis about the other part of the practice: awareness and meditation, I am also surprised by a fact I hadn’t considered before.
“Using a prop such as a belt and hanging from the ground invites you to be very mindful about what you are doing and how you are doing it. It is fun, yes, but you also have to be very present in order to care for your body and keep your balance in the air. This is why the class is so good for focus and being in the “now”. It can be very fun, but it can also be a very serious and personal practice full of discipline and concentration.” José Luis
And so, I understand how FlyHighYoga is much more than one could think. I am excited because I’ve found another way to fly because I’ve broken one of the walls of my box and disposed of the label that tells me that I can’t hang upside down, that it is too hard, that I am too heavy.
Now I can look at the world from a different angle while I celebrate challenging my preconceived ideas and allowing myself to try something completely new and challenging. What is a BaliSpirit Festival if not the perfect place to do this; to reinvent ourselves and be open to celebrate and enjoy what we discover.
Much Love, Eda Sofía C. B.
Eda Sofía is a Mexican writer, or at least she likes to think so. She writes and she craves tacos. She is quite nomadic but spends most of her time between México, Costa Rica & Bali, something she constantly pinches herself for. She also writes