Come fly with me

Aerial yoga puts a new perspective on the meditative practice

Savannah Vasquez

In this series of first-person articles we follow reporter Savannah Vasquez as she explores her yogi journey and discovers the most unique forms of yoga offered in the Destin area.

The fourth and final stop on my journalistic yoga journey was aerial yoga at Destin Pilates and Aerial. I had seen photos of the acrobatic aerialists swinging from silk hammocks and thought it looked relatively easy; but boy was I dead wrong!

I arrived for my private aerial yoga lesson to find instructor Mary Phillips high up in the rafters on a ladder. She was adjusting the hammocks for our session and was 15 feet in the air. I pushed the thought of being up that high in the air out of my mind and asked if there was any advice I needed to know before trying aerial yoga out for myself.

“Just trust the hammock,” said Phillips. “There’s a lot of trust involved because you get disoriented in the hammock and don’t know where you are.”

That advice was easier said than done. As soon as I stepped up to the hammock my nerves got the best of me and I got tense, the exact opposite of what yoga is supposed to do for your muscles. I was not very smooth with my movements, and had to be physically helped through each pose.

I found that the most challenging part for me was indeed trusting the hammock. I wanted to hold myself up with my own strength, and found that it just did not work in the air like it does on land. I am not used to being bad at things, but I was bad at aerial yoga, I can admit.

I finally relaxed as Phillips took her time with me and walked me through each step – spotting me and ensuring that she would not let me fall. Soon I was safe in the cocoon of the hammock and laughed in relief and shear enjoyment.

Once I realized I would not fall out of the hammock, I was able to really have fun with the class. Phillips had me try poses that had me hanging upside down, flying straight out and even curling into a ball. The poses had funny names like the monkey, the vampire and the worm; I have to say that each pose had me feeling like the aforementioned animals as well.

By the end of the session I felt more at ease with the hammock. Although aerial yoga was the hardest form of yoga I have yet to try, I can see how, with repetition, it could be a very peaceful and power-building practice.   

After my lesson I talked with Destin Pilates and Aerial owner Susan Authement Dunnam and learned that her studio has been offering aerial yoga and aerial silks for six years.

“When I first came to town there wasn’t anything in Destin like this,” she said. “Pink did it on the Grammy’s seven years ago and when I saw it I thought, I’ve got to do that. So I went to the Boulder Circus Arts Institute to learn how and I brought it back here. Now it’s really popular, and it’s something fun and different to do.”

Want to go? Destin Pilates and Aerial offers private lessons in both aerial yoga and aerial silks and offers the studio for booking for special group events such as bachelorette parties or birthday parties. For more information, visit, find them on Facebook or call 850-460-2828.