We’ve all heard of Pilates, but a new twist is sweeping the nation. Aerial Pilates combines the Pilates method with the Yoga Hammock Set, introducing a new challenge. We first learned about Aerial Pilates from our friend Debbie Robins at Air Control in Scotland.
Now, Dragonfly Pilates has brought Aerial Pilates to the USA, starting in Pittsburgh, PA!
Dragonfly Pilates is a Pilates studio with two convenient locations in Pittsburgh and Murrysville, offering private, semi-private and group classes in Pilates Apparatus, Mat, Balanced Body Barre, Kettlebell and now, Aerial Pilates! We’ve interviewed the owner, Misty Lynne Cauthen to get the scoop.
Misty is a Master Instructor, certified in Pilates since 2001. She spearheaded several Pilates programs and has taught at several prestigious local schools. With her extensive experience and knowledge, Misty has continued to hone her skills by training around the country and hosting Pilates retreats around the world in Rome, central Italy, the Italian Riviera, and Paris.
Her core philosophy is simple: “to ensure that people achieve the pinnacle of balance between body, mind, and motion” — and she brings her heart and soul to each client in every session.
We asked Misty a few questions to learn more about how she incorporates Yoga Hammocks into her classes and her exciting journey to making it work.
What made you choose to add aerial hammocks to your studio?
I am enamored with flight—I’ve always wished and wanted to fly, but since I’m wingless, I’ve pursued other means of flight—swinging, sky diving…anything that gives me the ability to feel weightless and free! One day, while teaching a Bodhi Suspension System class, I looked up at the rigging and thought, “we can use this to fly…” So I ordered a hammock and started playing. Once I realized I was in over my head, I reached out to a wonderful new friend named Debbie Robbins, the founder of Air Control Pilates, who came to Dragonfly Pilates and trained my teachers and me on the hammocks.
It began as an obsession with the freedom of flight, but it's developed into a true appreciation of what the aerial hammocks bring—deeper connections, a greater understanding of how the body works under different circumstances—different loads… I love watching my students conquer their fears and grow in each and every lesson.
What did you have to do to your studio to make it possible?
I asked the landlord to ask his engineer about the ceiling joists to make sure they could manage the load requirements. Because we already offer suspension in the studios, I was confident that we were in good shape. That said, Air Control requires a rigging workshop as part of the training, and I think it’s the best way to learn about the “whys” and “hows” of rigging. It’s really critical to do it right, and I’m glad we were schooled on how to prepare the space.
Just when you thought working your abs couldn't get any more challenging, let's throw in AERIAL ab work! Misty, aka "The Gandalf of Aerial Pilates" knows how to make us work for strong abs!Posted by Dragonfly Pilates on Sunday, August 18, 2019
How do you (or do you?) incorporate the use of aerial hammocks into Pilates?
The brilliant thing about the marriage of Pilates and the hammocks is that it adds another dimension to work people are already familiar with. We use the hammocks to facilitate different sensations or foci for matwork and apparatus, and we’ve seen it demystify the Pilates and suspension work for many. For example—the Series of Five Pilates exercises are challenging on the mat, but when executed in the hammock... let's say it’s as enlightening as it is brutal. I love it, and our members do, too!
Do you have any aerial bloopers - bizarre, funny or off the wall story of something that's happened in a class?
Nothing in class, but I can tell you the Air Control Pilates training that we took to learn to use the hammock humbled me in a way I haven’t been humbled in years! By day three, hour five in the hammock, I was so delirious I couldn’t stop laughing! My teachers who took the course with me couldn’t believe their ears (I’m a pretty serious gal)—I was just spinning and laughing and happy and in pain and in love with the hammock!
What is your personal journey with fitness and aerial yoga?
I am a former dancer who found Pilates after a string of injuries took dance out of my world… Pilates helped me rediscover my body in a way that I thought was lost to me—and made it better! But as a fairly accomplished mover and someone who’s always looking for more, I’ve always pursued other safe and effective ways to move that complement what I do in the Pilates studio. When I found out I could fly AND do Pilates… let's just say that even though I’ve only done this for a short period of time, I feel like it’s something I’ve needed for a long while!
What is your favorite pose?
Right now, Handstand is my favorite pose—the hammock provides the opposition I need to find the balance of the position, and I love the feedback I feel in my legs, too.
Tell us a bit more about your studio and your approach/what makes it shine?
Dragonfly Pilates is a place where people come to not just exercise, but to be a part of a community. New students oftentimes come in determined to “work-out and run,” but by the end of their first week of class, they’re grabbing coffee with the other attendees and making friends—which is a huge win for me… we’re so competitive in our lives these days; I want Dragonfly to be a place where everyone feels like they’re wanted, and where they feel like they’re part of a family. Every day, my instructors and I are told we make lives better, and that’s what makes us different.
Next time you’re in the Pittsburgh area, be sure to check out Dragonfly Pilates. Misty’s determination and creativity shines through her classes and creates a healing, invigorating, and uplifting environment. To learn more about her classes, check out her website athttps://www.dragonflypilates.com.
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.