This is our Studio of the Month feature, highlighting the successes and challenges faced by aerial yoga studios around the world. For January 2020, we are proud to have LIft Aerial Yoga Loft as our Studio of The Month, located in Falmouth, MA.
We were drawn to her studio by her unique attic loft design! Michele Brandt, RYT-500 instructor and studio owner, shares with us how she took her almost 20 years of yoga experience and teaching background to create a successful boutique aerial yoga studio. Continue reading to learn Michele’s journey with aerial fitness.
With 17 years of experience in different types of yoga, what made you decide to start a business in Aerial Yoga?
One of my friends opened an aerial yoga studio. She was a connection from my 200-hour teacher training in 2012 and invited me to go visit and experience aerial yoga. I instantly found it fascinating and so much fun!
I had a background in gymnastics and many styles of dance, so when I found Aerial Yoga, it was a natural fit for me. I suffer from some lower lumbar discomfort and was amazed at what a relief the hammock was. I ended up teaching at their studio for several years, until it closed. After that, I looked for another place to teach, but I wasn’t having any luck with finding the right space, so I decided to build my own.
How can you relate your background in teaching children with special needs and young mothers suffering from addiction to teaching aerial yoga?
I'm mindful of people that have a special energy and those who are suffering in some way. I've always been drawn to these groups of people and learned a few years ago that I was considered a highly sensitive person, an empath. This means I'm very tuned in to others' emotions and see things from their perspective.
One of the things I took away from this is that it’s really important to look and listen to every individual in the class. They each have a story to tell. If we don’t listen, then we could miss something really important or profound.
Our brains are processing so much information with new experiences, but it's important to pay attention to others so that we can learn something new and perhaps make an impact on the next person or experience. I bring my sensitivity, attentiveness, and compassion to my aerial yoga classes and my students teach me new things in return.
I am always excited to introduce hammocks to people. I find there are so many ways in which we can all benefit from aerial yoga. It’s very healing just laying down in the hammock, allowing the fabric to hug your body. It gives a sense of safety, security, and comfort. It almost feels like you’re back in your mother’s womb. I think it would be amazing to offer this practice to my special student family. Now, that’s another idea I may have to tackle next!
You have a wonderful studio set-up. How did you choose your location?
I taught Aerial Yoga at a local studio for over 3 years, but when they closed, I wanted to continue teaching. However, finding the right space wasn't easy! After some searching, I had to get creative. I had a large unfinished space in my attic and it gave me an idea. We turned the space into a beautiful studio, called Lift Aerial Yoga Loft (and with the renovation, my daughter got a nice bedroom up there too!).
What is the best thing you have done for your business last year?
I am very fortunate to have amazing teachers that have guided me to where I am today. I have been involved with two different Yoga teacher trainings. I attended Kind Yoga School and Down Under School of Yoga. I also trained in Aerial Yoga at Heels over Head Yoga. I have met so many amazing people through these experiences, and I feel blessed to call them by Sangha or Yoga community.
I decided when I first opened that I was going to invite my Sangha to join me at my new studio, LIFT Aerial Yoga Loft. I want everyone to have an opportunity to experience how wonderful it feels to deep stretch their bodies with the support of this amazing fabric - and of course, to experience lying in the hammock in savasana! I have had many yoga teachers come to take a complimentary class with me and it feels really good to share this with them. I know they will share their experiences with their students, friends, and families.
What important life lesson do you wish to share/instill with your students?
One lesson that remains constant and I continue to bring awareness to is the action of letting go. Our lives are full. We are constantly engaged. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Giving yourself permission to be in the moment and not think about anything other than the breath or a sound of a drum or bell, or chanting a mantra.
This is a form of meditation and letting go. Letting go of busy thoughts, negativity, emotional pain, anxiety, stress, worry, excitement etc…. experiencing stillness and oneness with your self. I know it works, because I remember what it felt like to be full of negative thoughts, emotions, stress, fear etc…and it felt awful!
I learned some coping skills and how to make a conscious choice to let those things go and be in the moment. This felt way better and I felt better later too. I'm glad to be able to share this with others and we have our breath with us always to remind us.
To what do you attribute your success?
Determination, goal setting, manifestation, trust, love, and the Divine.
LIFT - to raise, elevate, hoist, boost, move from a lower position to a higher place, position, energy or mood.
Michele's passion for yoga and meditation shines through her interview and it's clear her new studio is already impacting her community in a positive, reverberating way. Check out her unique space at Lift Aerial Yoga Loft next time you're around Falmouth, MA. You may also check them out on Facebook or Instagram at @liftaerialyogaloft
For many aerialists and aerial yogis, an outdoor setup is ideal for the practice. It’s true that a portable rig makes aerial arts accessible in virtually any location. It can open doors to opportunities and offer rigging solutions to that familiar dilemma: where to find space to work.
What better way to celebrate these values than to fly free out in the open air?
Whether times are good or extremely challenging, many of us need a community to embrace -- even if our only way to connect has been virtual for much of 2020. Now that some aerial studios are allowed to start to open up again, many aerialists and aerial yogis will be breathing a sigh of relief as they anticipate getting back to the practice.