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It’s Time to Play!

By Lauren Del Sarto
Flexibility, core strength and traction are the focus of trapeze yoga.

When was the last time you tried something new just for the fun of it? As we age, busy schedules – and often apprehension – can keep us from exploring new horizons and trying things a little out of our comfort zone.

Such is the case with the latest craze to arrive in the desert: trapeze yoga.

The cocoon pose is a calming rest to complete class.

The cocoon pose is a calming rest to complete class.

I love yoga and practice often, but the thought of doing it suspended from the ceiling was a bit intimidating. Was I strong enough to maneuver the straps or pull myself up? What if I slipped and pulled a muscle or fell on my head? I do love inversions, however, and the thought of upside down suspension made my curved spine smile.

Dr. Amir Lavaf gets ready for some play time.

Dr. Amir Lavaf gets ready for some play time.

Letting all that apprehension go, I decided to give it a try. “Trapeze is very playful,” said instructor Jade Mason at Bikram Yoga Plus in Palm Desert. “So even if you aren’t doing it for the physical benefits, it’s just a lot of fun.”

I quickly realized that as with all yoga, you can take this practice at your own pace and to your own level. No one is judging you and the instructor is there to assist as necessary, so it is welcoming for beginners, and IS a LOT of fun!

Instructor Jade Mason

Instructor Jade Mason

Beyond the excitement of trying something new, there are many physical benefits to the practice. The poses Jade took us through focused on flexibility, core strengthening and – my favorite – traction. “Trapeze yoga allows gravity to work for you and not against you,” says studio owner Denise DuBarry-Hay. “For regular yoga practitioners, it allows you to melt into a supported stretch that you can’t get any other way. It’s a great cross training for other types of yoga – and it’s fun.” She adds that in many cases, back pain can be greatly reduced by this inversion therapy as the self-controlled traction separates each vertabra by gravitational pull.

Other newbies in the class included Dr. Amir Lavaf, a radiation oncologist, and Dr. Shervin Rafie, a radiologist, who both recently took up yoga. I commended them for incorporating constructive play into their busy schedules. “I thought it was fantastic,” said Lavaf. “I liked both the static and kinetic movements. I was sweating; for me it was work.”

It was work, and the rocking cocoon pose at the end was a welcome pause in time. The class left me feeling relaxed, definitely taller (thanks to the inversions), and wanting more. “Trapeze is new to the Desert, so everyone who comes in is new to it,” says Mason who added that poses can get very acrobatic. “We only scraped the surface as to what is possible to do in the trapeze sling.”

The practice was not only a good workout, it reminded me of the value of stepping outside of your comfort zone – and making more time for play.

Trapeze yoga is available at Bikram Yoga Plus-Coachella Valley in Palm Desert with several classes weekly. For more information visit coachellayoga.com or call (760) 346.2988.

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