What is Aerial Yoga Therapeutics?

Episode 138

81 mins

What is Aerial Yoga Therapeutics?

April 14, 2024

In the latest episode of The Flow Artists Podcast, we speak with Renae Stevens and Kristin Mathiassen.

Renae Stevens is the creator of the Aerial Yoga Therapeutics training program, a pioneering approach that integrates the aerial hammock as a therapeutic modality for mental, emotional, and physical well-being. With a background in yoga, somatic practices, and mental health recovery, Renae has developed a unique methodology that bridges the mind-body connection through the versatile and supportive medium of the aerial hammock.

Kristin Mathiassen, a trained aerial yoga therapist, specialises in working with individuals with disabilities, particularly those with Down syndrome. Her personal experience as a mother to a son with Down syndrome inspired her to explore the therapeutic potential of the aerial hammock and sensory-based activities. Kristin's expertise lies in creating safe, playful, and engaging environments that support the unique needs and abilities of her clients.

The aerial hammock's "superpower," as described by Renae and Kristin, lies in its ability to provide a soothing, supportive, and sensory-regulating space for practitioners of all ages and abilities. Whether used for physical rehabilitation, mental health recovery, or simply as a means of exploring movement and body awareness, the hammock offers a diverse range of applications within the realm of aerial yoga therapeutics.

One of the key strengths of aerial yoga therapeutics is its emphasis on accessibility and inclusivity. Renae and Kristin stress the importance of offering progressions, modifications, and grounding experiences to ensure the safety and engagement of participants with diverse needs and abilities. Instructors in this field must possess a deep understanding of the human body and the ability to adapt and facilitate sessions that cater to a wide spectrum of presentations.

Renae is running a series of aerial yoga therapeutics training courses later this year. This is an opportunity to receive some of the best aerial yoga training available in the world with Renae and a whole host of experienced facilitators, including Kristin, as well as yoga luminaries such as Simon Borg Olivier.

For more details head to https://aerialyogateachertraining.com/our-courses/ for more information and the ‘discover more’ link for each training for start dates and pricing.

The first unit - Aerial Essentials Teacher Training starts in June 2024!

Use our code GARDENOFYOGA to get a free online mentoring session valued at $200 (and offered in multiple languages!). Just write the coupon code: GARDENOFYOGA at checkout.

Aerial Yoga Teacher Training Website: https://aerialyogateachertraining.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/aerial_yoga_therapeutics/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aerialyogatherapeuticsteachertraining

Elements of Flow on Facebook


Please email us to report any transcription errors

Rane Bowen: Hello, my name is Rane and this is the Flow Artists podcast. Together with my co host Jo Stewart, we speak with extraordinary movers, thinkers and teachers about how they find their flow and much, much more. Before we dive in, we want to take a moment to acknowledge and honour the traditional owners of the unceded land where this episode was recorded, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation. We pay our deepest respects to the elders, both past and present, and acknowledge the emerging leaders within their community. In this episode we're speaking with Kristin Ginger Mathiassen and Renae Stevens about aerial yoga therapeutics. We talk about what it is as well as how different teachers are putting these techniques into practise and how you can learn more. We discuss how the aerial hammock can be used as a sensory tool to to help with emotional regulation, trauma, chronic pain and neurodiversity while facilitating joy and flow state experiences. We also talk about the realities of starting out as a teacher in this field and how aerial yoga therapeutics can also be used by physiotherapists, occupational therapists and pilates instructors, many of who also bring their expertise to this technique and to Renae's training. Aerial yoga can be a real bridge between mental and physical health since we can work with the mind and body in a unique way which youll hear about in this episode. Renae is the creator of this training and is a world leading innovator within this field. Shes also Jo's main teacher and source of much wisdom and inspiration both in our classes here. You might remember our previous interview with Renae about how she created aerial yoga therapeutics and it's great to hear back about how it has grown and flourished since then. Renae was involved with launching anti gravity in Australia and New Zealand in 2010 and has been training instructors since then. Her work has evolved into a multimodal therapeutic approach combining the creative and movement arts therapies which she is passionate about sharing. As a practitioner and an educator. Renae also holds a masters degree in mental health and is a registered art therapist experienced in trauma recovery. Shes recognised by Yoga Australia as a senior yoga teacher with over 20 years of teaching experience. Kristen has a background in childrens yoga therapy, accessible yoga and trauma informed practise as well as aerial yoga therapeutics and will be teaching a unit on intellectual disabilities and Down Syndrome. In this upcoming training, she shares her personal experiences with her 22 year old son Luca who has down syndrome as well as her professional experience with her business. Elements of flow she uses therapeutic movement and aerial therapeutics to support the down syndrome body autism and dual diagnosis, and is working towards developing further education programmes for yoga teachers and movement therapists around safe practise for down syndrome bodies and insights into working with autism and sensory processing disorders within the therapeutic movement space. This is a subject really close to our hearts as we love to share the accessible aspects of aerial yoga and hope that more people get to experience the full potential of the practise. Renae is running a series of aerial yoga therapeutics training courses later this year. This is an opportunity to receive some of the best aerial yoga training available in the world with Renae and a whole host of experienced facilitators including Kristin, as well as yoga luminaries such as Simon Borg Olivier, stick around to hear jo talk about how you can get an extra special offer to any of these offerings. Anyway, we really hope you enjoy listening to the conversation. Let's get into it. All right, guys, thanks so much for speaking with us today. It's so great to get the chance to speak with both you. So before we get into the work in study aspects of aerial yoga, what is it that you both love most about aerial yoga? Or what, in your opinion, is the hammock's most powerful superpower? So perhaps you could start, Renae.

Renae Stevens: Superpowers. For me, the aerial hammock as a tool has always offered a bridge between working from traditional yoga therapies or working from more traditional mental health or psychotherapies. So it provided for me a bridge which allowed really a connection to a somatic experience, to a body based experience, and it provided a way to make some of those more traditional therapies, both physical and psychological, more available. So for me, its superpower has been its diversity and its ability to bridge, I think, the challenge of planning effective interventions, because it kind of gives us.

Jo Stewart: That top up, bottom down. You can use the body to work with the mind and you can use the mind to work with the body.

Renae Stevens: Absolutely. I think when we have now such a better understanding of mind body continuum, many of our early mental health theories have been adapted to really be inclusive of the body. And we are understanding that even when we're looking at physical health and the implications of healing, that we need to really address the emotional and mental state to improve health outcomes from purely physical or physiological states as well. So as we know more about that, this tool just gives you such a way to see where it fits. And for me, that's what I love about it, because I can stand between the field of physical rehab and mental health recovery with this tool as my bridge.

Jo Stewart: And how about you, Kristin?

Kristin Mathiassen: I agree with everything that Renae has just said. I suppose I can just add the area that I work in, which is with, with pretty much children and young adults with disability. A lot of those clients also with major sensory issues, that the hammock sort of provides a very, very safe space from a sensory perspective for a lot of my clients. And often it's just, they're just sitting in the hammock or they're laying in the hammock and they may do that for the first couple of sessions that they come to me because it really allows them to feel safe. And I would probably say its superpower is that safety, that sensory safeness, that safe space that it can create for people.

Jo Stewart: Yeah, and Im going to answer as well, and also shout out to Cyrille, who sent me that question about the havoc superpower, because I love it and I feel like it taps into what I feel like the aerial yoga superpower is which it gives us this ability to work in a really therapeutic way, but also with play, and especially as adults, and especially if you have chosen this for a therapeutic reason, for mental health reasons, or for physical reasons, to have this ability to do something in your movement practise that just feels really good in your body and gives you this opportunity to do things that maybe you didn't think were possible for you. And a lot of the time it can be the same move, it can be so nurturing and so soothing and so supportive, or it can just be like a little movement adventure. And I love being able to tap into that.

Renae Stevens: That's such a good description as a movement adventure. Jo, I think the hammock, one of the reasons why it can be such a good bridge, whether you're working through a physical or mental health challenge, is that it really has that ability to be both providing support and security, or absolutely freedom, liberation and play. So you just have that full spectrum of qualitative experience at your fingertips and your ability to shift sensory perception or modulate it for those who are challenged with their sensory processing, or to have a similar effect on shifting a psychological perception. And that can be a mindset shift. It can be where there was before a block, suddenly there is now an opening. And that is enough to create quite a catalystic shift in our experiences of pain, whether that's emotional or physical. And I think that is, yes, if we could harness that in a bottle, it would be really valuable, but we can use it in this modality. And I think offering people back their full spectrum, and I think a lot of the challenges that we have is when we lose diversity of experience and we can really gain a lot of that back through a tool as adaptable as the hammock. Beautiful.

Rane Bowen: And, yeah, for what it's worth, I have no notes. I think you guys articulated it extremely well. I love the aerial hammock for. Yeah, so much stuff. So I guess that brings us to our next question, Renae, what exactly is aerial yoga therapeutics?

Renae Stevens: So, aerial yoga therapeutics, I guess, is a title that tries to encompass an approach to using the aerial hammock as a modality for a therapeutic benefit. And the element of yoga is really, I guess, in many ways, relating more to the traditional sense of yoga, which is that connection of mind and body, the therapeutics, in terms of goal and outcome, is that when we do tailor our delivery to the individual to meet their needs, and we do have therapeutic goals and ways to assess outcomes, then we can work with an experience that can be therapeutic. And it is often always going to be individualised, or at least with enough consideration of group participants to be adaptable and address a varied set of needs in a small group or dynamic of a group. So aerial yoga therapeutics as a term, was really just a name to describe an approach. And this approach is one that does embody a therapeutic framework, one that's really a fusion from both mental health recovery as well as our understandings of rehabilitation from the physical and physiological sense. And it gives people, in that way, a holistic framework to look at how they can implement this tool and even alongside other modalities. So whether that might be alongside other counselling or mental health therapy intervention, or alongside other physical health interventions, such as your physiotherapy techniques or pilates, clinical exercise. So, yeah, it does encompass mind and body in terms of it being therapeutic in its design, and it incorporates, really, I guess, the essence of what I think of as yoga, which is really that opportunity to connect our nervous system and find equilibrium in our nervous system, to help us better communicate with our mind and body, and to help us better communicate with other minds and bodies and the world. And so for me, it is something that is an approach that helps us get closer to, I guess, the essence of yoga in that way. Beautiful.

Jo Stewart: And so I'd love to hear, Kristen, how you use the aerial hammock in a therapeutic way in your own business, and maybe a bit about your background as well, because I know that this is just one of the tools that you work with, with your clients. And I feel like, as Renae was explaining, it can be a way to work with a real diversity of different minds, different bodies, and I'd love to hear how you bring that to life in your work.

Renae Stevens: All right.

Kristin Mathiassen: Okay. My background, I suppose, when we sort of pull it completely apart, is I have a son with down syndrome, and Luca and I have been through some pretty interesting struggles through his existence. He's now 22. He, from a physical perspective, Lucas, a larger bodied boy, and we've had some major struggles with movement over the years. Lucas also been through leukaemia and has epilepsy, so that's sort of added a lot also to his physical movement and his capacity. So my background, I suppose, was just starting learning to get him moving as a young child, trying to keep those milestones going, setting up, being the nasty parent and setting up cushions and things up the hallway from his bedroom when he was really little, and if he wanted breakfast, he had to climb up all over the top of them to get to the food, getting him to stand up. I put a fish tank on a coffee table so he would pull himself up to look at the fish. All these little secret games that I played in his younger years to try and get him to reach those milestones. And for me, it was really important because when it came to time to go to early learning centres and things, Luca was ahead of a lot of kids, even with toileting, because of that consistency of trying to get him to move, I was determined that, you know, he was going to be not too far behind everybody else, which was a great thing. I had him riding a little recumbent bike when he was little. He still rides a recumbent now, which is great. But later on in life, I started learning a little bit about kids yoga therapy and did one for. Did one little course and did some of that with Luca and fell in love with the yoga practise through kids yoga, and then continued on to do my adult training as well, and fell across this beautiful ad for this wonderful woman called Renae, who was doing foundation of aerial therapeutics in Brisbane and saved my pedis and flew to Brisbane with Luca and organised support for him and came along and did Renae's first little. I think it was your first little taster, Renae, wasn't it?

Renae Stevens: It was, yeah.

Kristin Mathiassen: And it opened a new world for me as far as thinking about what I could possibly offer to other kids like Luca and adults as well, with disabilities. So I suppose that's sort of where it started and extended to.

Jo Stewart: And we've had some good chats about how you are working with the havoc and some other balance tools, especially for people who do have down syndrome to kind of help with stability and, like, some of the other movement challenges that they might have. Would you like to give us some examples of, like, what you do with the aerial hammock?

Kristin Mathiassen: Sure. I mean, within that space of working with down syndrome, we're obviously working with a completely different body. So I've sort of had to pull in other tools and the hammock's been a really, really, really useful tool. I incorporate the hammock with the balance board, which is the curved wooden board that you may see some kids using. I think some gyms use them from time to time now as well, and that's. That's really, really, really good. Also, the big exercise balls, your really big balls, we use those a lot with. And also the peanut balls as well, I use incorporating that sort of thing. So it's. It's, I think with the type of work that I'm doing, it's that it's playful, it's organising games. You've really got to have things in your back pocket to pull out if things don't work. So it's a learning. I'm learning every time I work with someone of different options that can be used. My rig is a freestanding rig. Quite often I'm putting coloured dots on the rig for left and right, that type of thing. It's all very interesting the way that I work with different bits and pieces. I use balls a lot, from really tiny, tiny little squeeze balls right up to the big exercise balls. I've got one of the chairs with the exercise ball sitting in it, and quite often I use that with the hammock as well for clients that do need to be sitting down. But if they're sitting down, they're not happy to be sitting in the hammock, but they're happy to hold onto the hammock. At least they're still getting that movement through the pelvis and the hips as well on that exercise ball chair. So it's.

Renae Stevens: It's a lot of fun.

Kristin Mathiassen: It can be challenging, but it's a lot of fun in my space because there is a lot of that. That play, I guess.

Renae Stevens: Yeah.

Kristin Mathiassen: So it's. It's interesting. I mean, I know that Renae works with. With some children with disabilities as well, and it is. It is a very playful space, isn't it, Renee?

Renae Stevens: Yeah. And I think the adaptability to each child means that you. You will change your approach and really, you do want to have a toolkit. So I do work with creative therapies as well and love in the movement components of those sessions to incorporate a lot of different interactive games that might include other appropriate tools. And I love the balls, particularly for kids who may not tolerate the sensation of the hammock so well. And it can overwhelm them quickly, and you see the behaviour shift and you see that it is actually too stimulating then working in a way where we involve the hammock, but we're not necessarily in the hammock. So at times I can string the hammocks up and it becomes a volleyball court, you know, or I can. We can use it to catapult things to each other, because the hammock is like, you know, if you held onto a tablecloth and you threw it up in the air, it can also be something, as you said, that we just hold on to or we hide things in. So it just gives another diversity to interactive games in the space. And it's not always that the child is in the hammock or the individual is in the hammock, but it can become a way to slowly get them feeling more comfortable or able to process more layered sensory input. I think one of the things I find in terms of supporting those experiences of early attachment, too, is that it's often giving felt senses of being held, or there's always the possibility of making contact through the hammock. But there's this medium that gives also a sense of privacy or control over that contact, and having the children being able to direct what experiences they want in their body and ask for that input. So as a facilitator, the child might be able to ask for slow rocking or fast rocking, or they want spin. But as a therapeutic facilitator, you're going to be making your own judgments as to whether that's appropriate or not and how much and how little, and guiding it to a point where it's still working toward bringing that child into a regulation that's really supporting equilibrium and not taking them too far. And I think that's a little bit of an exploration. It's a collaboration as well. So you're learning all the time and the child is learning, and then there's options to reflect. So I've certainly had moments where, you know, a child just wants to spin and spin and spin, and then all of a sudden there's a huge emotional meltdown, and later we can reflect on that and we can also talk about how it is when our body gets too much, you know, so it gives us a lot of opportunities to reflect on those. And every child's capacity, perhaps the reflection might be different depending on what challenges are present, but there are always those lived experiences that are building and in a supportive environment, can be attuned to and guided to be more and more supportive toward that therapeutic outcome of equilibrium.

Jo Stewart: And it's not just kids. Like, I've definitely had. Like, this is one of the things that you really go into in the training, which I found very helpful. Like, a lot of those activities that you're talking about, whether it's gentle swaying forward and back or spinning or upside down, it's really about regulating vestibular input. And for most people, like, something like a gentle swing would be quite soothing. But some people are, like, actually craving something that is more stimulating for their vestibular system, and that would be the spinning or the upside down. And it's so interesting to notice within people, like, I see this with my adult clients, how it gives them this space to learn about themselves and to learn how to work with their own systems. And just last week, I had someone come in, and she was like, I'm so tired today. And then I just gave a little bit of freedom in our first move, like, a few different options. And she just intuitively went for spinning. And after she's finished, she was like, that spinning really woke me up. And that's so interesting to learn that about yourself and to have this tool where you can work with your own system in these ways. And I think a lot of what we see when it comes to working with neurodivergent kids is when they're in distress. So to have a tool to self regulate before it gets to that level at a young age, that then you could continue working with as you grew, like, how powerful would that be? And even as someone who identifies as a neurotypical adult, like, we still need this. We still need these tools to regulate. And I love how your training kind of unpacks that on another level of, like, why is this having this effect on our bodies and our minds? And why is it having these different effects for different people? Because obviously, we've all got different bodies and minds.

Renae Stevens: Maybe that is another superpower. Jo. It's the.

Jo Stewart: I think it is, yeah.

Renae Stevens: Of the sensory awareness, because there is, you know, a lot of. A lot of mind body exercise based techniques build on body awareness, but very few have the same breadth of experience on our sensory processing. And vestibular function is one of the things that we get to really either be able to activate or to calm when we're working in whole body environments of three dimensional movement with options for spinning, jumping, or like linear rock, and then also noticing the difference between those moments of motion and stillness can be really powerful in terms of interception. So as someone becomes more heightened in their sensory awareness of really their external environment, it can also then give them a little bit of a moment to then feel that stop. And in that moment of stopping, get a greater insight into the same kind of movement and experiences that are happening on a very deep, intercepted inner level, and that can be incredibly regulating. So as someone becomes an individual, whether it's child or adult, becomes more conscious of their own physiology, their own sensory sense of being heightened or calmed, they are better in control of it, and they have a better insight into their emotional relationship to those sensations. And that can again become an incredible intervention. So another place where someone can find a pause, moment and almost uncouple some of their emotional experience that might be attached to sensation, and that can be, again, a very helpful strategy in regulating.

Jo Stewart: And so I guess this actually brings me into some listener questions, because speaking to two aerial yoga experts today, I did actually put out the call to some of our listeners and friends of the podcast. So we've been talking about the vestibular system, but the other superpower that the hammock offers is the ability to work with deep pressure. So what are some of your favourite poses that are good for getting pressure? This is from a listener. The tightest that I've found so far is lying in the hammock with my arms by my side. It makes good pressure on my back and feels supportive. And she was wondering, what are some other postures that offer that deep pressure compression feeling in a way that's soothing? I'll start with you, kristen.

Renae Stevens: Kristen, have you explored? Yeah, I was just thinking it'd be interesting to hear from.

Kristin Mathiassen: I've explored a little tiny bit. I mean, I obviously haven't worked with as many people as what Renae has at the moment. I've only got two clients I'm working with, and I work with both of them for 4 hours each a week, so that's really enough for me. But I found that one particular thing that we've been doing with one client, and she really likes laying in the hammock on her back, really. Still, she likes to put her hands down by her side, and she likes to have a weighted, quite a large weighted pillow that I've made out of out of wheat, like a wheat pillow from, basically from her clavicle all the way down to a pelvic bone. She likes this big, long weight along her chest but I found with her that she gets a lot of satisfaction out of the peanut ball. And the peanut ball that I have does have little bobbles on it. And I pop that just underneath the hammock in the arch of her back, basically. And then after a period of time, I gently rock her. So the ball actually, she rolls on the ball, and the ball rolls on the ground.

Renae Stevens: So she's getting that.

Jo Stewart: So it's a really low hammock.

Kristin Mathiassen: Yes. So she's getting that. She's got the pressure around the sides of the hammock and that weight on the chest. But see, she's also getting this beautiful massage and even more pressure through the back as she rolls back backwards and forwards across the peanut ball. And I find that to be. I haven't tried it myself.

Jo Stewart: Yeah, it sounds like a two person project.

Rane Bowen: I kind of want to try that.

Renae Stevens: Me, too.

Kristin Mathiassen: Yeah, it seems really quite beautiful, and it assists her greatly to relax after our session. And it sort of become. Now that's where she wants to be at the end of each session. We've got to the point now where she's actually putting an eye mask on, too, which has taken a long time. She really doesn't like things on her face, but in that space in the hammock, she likes to have the eye mask on, which just happens to be.

Renae Stevens: Like.

Kristin Mathiassen: A fox, which is all fluffy and soft. But, yeah, it's interesting that she's more comfortable with the mask on now as well, but that pressure underneath her body, it must just feel absolutely beautiful.

Jo Stewart: Yeah, that's a really good example as well, because for a lot of people, lying on the ground, legs straight, arms by your side, shavasana position is actually not relaxing. And for a lot of people as well, like stillness, like enforced stillness, where there's this sense that you're not meant to move, is very activating and the opposite of relaxing. So I love how there's this really varied sensory input. There's the movement of the hammock. There's, like, the cuddle pillow in the middle of everything, and even just through your own, like, work together, it seems like she's using these techniques that are already relaxing to maybe start to ease into some other sensory input. Things like pressure on her face that didn't used to feel okay, but now she is more comfortable with them.

Kristin Mathiassen: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it seems like a really.

Renae Stevens: Good example of how her tolerance of that sensory pressure may be increasing, you know, and we start to see that sensory profile changing as we get the right amounts of input in the right way. Yeah.

Kristin Mathiassen: And it's that trusting thing, too, I think, is that she's trusting me, obviously, but she's also trusting the hammock, and she's trusting herself. She knows where her body is in that space now, where initially there was that fear and that proprioception wasn't sort of allowing her to understand where she was in space or in that hammock, whereas now she's become comfortable with that. She can quite easily now stand at the front of a hammock, gather the hammock, sit down by herself, and lay down in comfort. There's no fear there anymore of what's happening behind her with the hammock. She's quite. She's got that comfort now and knows where she is within that space of the hammock, which is pretty amazing.

Renae Stevens: Yeah. Yeah. It was just making me really see, too, into the role that the hammock has to strengthen that therapeutic alliance between the facilitator and the client or the individual receiving, because it, as well as the hammock, giving the individual so many opportunities to learn about themselves, it's also giving the facilitator a lot of opportunities to learn about the subtleties of this individual and how they react, and then being able to together to work to support what is the most conducive for them to be in that state where they feel calmed, where they feel safe, is a really beautiful experience of therapeutic alliance. And the place where we're building a relationship that is around that holistic sense of care for each other in the space, but certainly for observing how that change is happening with deep pressure, I think it can be so individual. I've noticed pressure in general, sensory input in general, is so individually experienced, perhaps depending on that unique sensory profile. But I have found for some people who might find the pressure too much, that going back to just having one body part supported. So we have the beautiful opportunity to just support the skull in a supine position, laying on the ground, or just support the ankles, or just support the limb, the lower limbs in some way. And I think that can give people who maybe find the pressure too much or claustrophobic an option to get adapted to it. So I think one of the things that some children who like the pressure enjoy the slow spin for is that when we wind the kids up, the tension increases around their body, so they can really feel more. They can get that sense of, oh, yeah, I can really feel that in my body. And the other thing I found is that opportunity to invite pressure that's facilitated and this might not be for everybody, but Kristen, you found a way to use the ball for me. I find I can actually get underneath the hammock myself and apply the pressure the child might want. Sometimes I do offer this to adults as well, but it presents very differently. It's more perhaps massage orientated for an adult, whereas with a child we might be doing soft range and hard rain and thunderstorms and giving them a chance to modulate that experience on the back of their bodies as they're moving. So that can be ways of implementing pressure, I find that can be, again, just so diversely delivered and we can find what is really suiting that particular individual.

Jo Stewart: And that leads into my next listener question, which is actually from the same listener. She was also wondering about stimulating versus relaxing moves for ADHD, ADHD and autism. She says, I know exercise usually helps me moderate my anxiety too, but sometimes stimulating moves are too much and can actually increase that feeling of anxiety. What could be a good move for relaxing or regulating if I am feeling anxious? Like if I became overstimulated in class? Kind of like a child's pose in mat based yoga. What could be an equivalent pose in aerial yoga?

Renae Stevens: Probably the equivalent pose if you were, for example, in a class environment where it might be obviously not tailored to her needs to give you context.

Jo Stewart: She has her own hammock at home, so this is her self practise.

Renae Stevens: Okay, in self practise? Well, one thing that I think is very regulating about the child's pose is the subtle forward flexion and the pressure often experienced on the forebrow, whether that's with your hands supported, or if you are able to get to the floor with your head into that folded forward position. And in a standing opportunity in your high hammock, you can be in your back, lean with your forearms rested on the pillars and your head rested on your forearms. And that's often referred to as tilax from our anti gravity curriculum days. But it is a really nice way to regulate when there is a lot of circulatory change happening in your body or if you've moved too quickly up and down. The other thing can be to lay immediately on your back and just support your ankles into the hammock. So you're getting all that good contact, of firm stability once again into your body and you can just find your ankles into an ankle trap to be supported, elevated or simply coming to the ground. I think, you know, Kristen started talking about the mixed modality approach, you know, really bringing in other tools using the hammock as one of your tools. But it's also, you know, you have the floor there and everything that is grounding and earthbound with what we can do with the floor or a wall, if you need to sit your back against the wall, is absolutely utilised here. Like, it doesn't have to be everything in the hammock. And, in fact, it's quite more valuable if you can expand those experiences of moments where your body feels gravity, and moments where your body feels the relief of gravity or the resistance of gravity. And you get to explore it even in many different opportunities there, when you do include the floor and floor practises. So I would encourage the use of that and know that the hammock can be stimulating, but usually it's if you're moving quickly through transitions, or if you have done a lot of really vestibular stimulating things, like flipping or spinning, or just up and downing too quickly. And so often it's just a matter of transition, moving slowly over several rounds of breath in and out of a posture, for example, inversions, to really make those experiences of sensory overwhelm more manageable. But also, it's very much a circulatory change that you're starting to modulate if you can move more slowly in and out of posture.

Jo Stewart: How about you, Kristen? Do you have a sensory go to? I have a few go tos, but.

Kristin Mathiassen: I mean, I think the thing that I notice a lot with clients that I've worked with and also very much with Lucah, my son, is that he likes to have a little spin. Sometimes he likes to rock backwards and forwards. But I notice coming to that sort of really, really gentle rock, and it's time to get out of the hammock. I can see that he's a little bit floaty, he's not grounded. I sort of make sure that when people come out of the hammock, that they've got their feet on the ground just to regulate their nervous system back to normal, putting enough pressure on the feet to find that regulation and stuff as well. Quite often, I'll just get Luca to walk around and really, really place his feet on the ground. Nice slow walks, just to regulate the nervous system. And I think a lot of the time we don't do that. We'll jump out of the hammock and go, ta da, that was great. And then we take off and we can't centre ourselves, we can't concentrate. We've really got to find that stable ground again. And that's really important, particularly for people that do have sensory processing issues is to make sure that they find that ground again.

Jo Stewart: That's actually really interesting that you mentioned that, because one of the techniques that I know from Hula hooping that involves a lot of spinning, is if you're feeling dizzy from too much spinning, is just to kind of hold onto something. Like the back of the chair or the hammock is perfect and do some little lifts and lowers of your heels on the ground. And it's just a good brain body reset of like, this is where the ground is and it can often just take you out of that everything spinning feeling.

Kristin Mathiassen: Yeah, yeah. Because you. Yeah, it's. And I mean, if you're going to go to a class, the last thing you want to do is to leave feeling that you're not actually in control of anything. So I think it's quite an important little thing to do for all of us when we get out of the hammock anyway, is to find that space again, that solid ground. Yeah, I think it's helpful as well.

Jo Stewart: Just to kind of mention that, oh, this is a thing that can happen. Like sometimes our bodies just need this extra time to ground. You might like to sit down, you might like to do your little heel bounces. I think sometimes when we maybe have a slightly more adverse effect from aerial yoga, whether it's feeling dizzy or feeling seasick, you might think you're the only one that feels like that and you just have to push through where actually that can be very unhelpful. Sometimes what you need to do is stop. And I think that kind of building those practises in as go tos, so people know that they have them anytime they need to, can be really helpful.

Renae Stevens: I guess one of the reasons why I wanted to open the aerial yoga therapeutics training up to teachers as well as health professionals was really to give people who are running the group classes just more informed knowledge of how triggering some of the aerial exercise can be unknowingly to the instructor. So, very much like in the yoga realm, a lot of people who become instructors sort of have a natural gift for movement, and they might be naturally flexible or they might have had a background in gymnastics or dance, whereas the people who might be attending their class could be experiencing new movement for the very first time. And I think for instructors who haven't had education, that's really provided them with knowledge around the sensitivities that we might need to keep at the forefront of our mind. When we are working with a whole group of people that we don't know their biography, we don't know their health backgrounds. How can we tailor our delivery in a group to be more therapeutically beneficial as well? And it incorporates the things that we've learned in therapeutic settings where we've been working with people, perhaps with higher needs. But it incorporates that then in a way that can still be used in a public setting. And it may be as simple as being mindful of how you create transitions, being mindful of having grounding experiences post ones that have been very stimulating. But that requires an education that's given instructors a breadth of knowledge of the nervous system, the way that we function on a deeper level psychologically and physiologically, rather than one that's just focused on genre and exercise tricks and flips and choreography in that way. So it does, I do think with this modality, it requires a more in depth understanding because it can really elicit a lot more than any other physical modality I've ever worked with. And because of that, it's powerful therapeutically in use or it can be dangerous. And that's why it's so important to be educated when you're using this tool. And unfortunately, we're working against a tsunami of YouTube and people see something and if they can do it, they think, oh, I'll teach it. Sometimes maybe they don't even realise if they can do it properly themselves before they're teaching it. And it does set up a situation where there's maybe not enough knowledge of really the implications. And I think as we get more into the support of background knowledge around this, we can make it a very successful group experience, but also a very tailored therapeutic intervention. It just requires coming with that understanding.

Jo Stewart: As you've probably heard, we really believe in the power of this practise and its ability to help people, as well as the importance of of quality education within this field. So we're really delighted to partner with Renae. As aerial yoga therapeutics affiliates, Renae has assembled a team of innovative and world leading experts to bring a diverse range of perspectives to this training, many of who also feature in my upcoming book. It's also a chance to connect to a global community of other teachers doing this work. This course will provide an informed theoretical understanding of the mental and physical health benefits of aerial yoga, the neurobiology of trauma and pain, and the role of creativity and flow state experiences in healing. It can be completed entirely online, or there is also the option to attend in person intensives at the Gold coast hinterland and to continue with mentoring. After the training, you will need access to an aerial yoga hammock for the practical sessions, but these can be done at your own time or live. Many of the past participants are parents or carers and were able to work through this material at their own pace. The course runs as progressive units. There's aerial yoga essentials teacher training, which is 50 hours. Advanced aerial yoga teacher training, 50 hours and then the aerial therapeutics unit is 100 hours. The first unit of that aerial yoga essentialist training starts in June. Go to aerial yoga teacher training website and I'll pop that link in our show notes for more information. And if you hit the Discover more link for each training, that will give you the start dates and pricing. The first unit, aerial essentials teacher training, starts in June 2024. If you enter our code Garden of Yoga, all caps or one word at checkout, you'll get a free online mentoring session valued at $200. And that's offered in multiple languages. Actually, that really leads me into a question that Cyril, who is an occupational therapist and an aerial yoga teacher and a past podcast guest. So she was one of the first people I reached out to and I knew I was talking to you two today. So she asks, there are various ways of offering accessible and or therapeutic aerial yoga classes in small groups. For example, classes that bring together people with the same kind of difficulties, abilities, needs, and classes that mix profiles. If you have the choice, what solution do you prefer and for what reasons, or do you think it depends on the context. And what are your pros and cons for each? I'll start with you, Renae.

Renae Stevens: So we're talking more in public settings?

Jo Stewart: Yeah, I think that she's talking about a class that has a therapeutic focus, but maybe it's a mixed group of people that come and versus, say she works with a specialised population of people who have traumatic brain injury. So she teaches a class specifically for people who do have traumatic brain injury?

Renae Stevens: Absolutely, yeah. I think, you know, the more that you can within a group have people with the similar needs, obviously you are going to be able to harness a better result, because in a group, your energy is stretched between each of those members. If each of those members have a similar need, then the success of the group will be definitely improved. But also, I think, the affiliation of the group, the support the individuals experience in the group, rather than feeling not included or in the wrong place, or that something's too challenging or not challenging enough, all of those things can set up actually a change in someone's sense of safety in that experience or having their needs met. So if we can tailor that, and with children, I often like to work in age groups or developmental capacity if they're children with different needs with adults. I do like to work with women's health issues specifically. I do love to work with low back pain specifically. And that that can sometimes incorporate hip pain quite commonly as well. And perhaps like your over forties or even your over sixties groups. So you're getting the opportunity to deliver accordingly. Whereas when you're doing perhaps an open class that could be open to anyone, you're going to have potentially that full diversity. If you are able to offer classes that are more specific to people, you're giving them the choice to choose something that actually suits their needs. And I think having very clear class descriptions if you're running more, more group environments can be very helpful for individuals making their own best decision and perhaps trying to help guide the individuals. My recommendation to public studios and people who run groups is to always run every new first timer through an introductory course so that at least everybody starts at a very base level. And I use that as a. I recommend that as a requirement before people do go to drop in classes. A, you've got to learn apparatus safety, and in many apparatus based skills, you are required to attend a certain number of introductory classes just so that you know how to keep yourself safe. And they will do that in a lot of reformer based classes or other pilates, apparatus based classes. And I think it's absolutely important here because it's not just like a drop in floor class where everyone's dealing with gravity in the way that they do deal with gravity. Every day they're walking into a situation where they really don't know how their body's going to respond until they experience it. And that needs to be delivered to them in a way that can be safely progressed. So they have a chance to assess whether this is right for them, whether it's safe and know how to modulate it before they're going into those group environments, which can be very dynamic if they're with people who have been coming and they're very familiar with the technique and they're of healthy bodies. So giving, I think it's about giving clarity for people, giving choice and helping them make the best choices.

Jo Stewart: So we actually do things completely the opposite. We've got a small studio, so we've got a maximum of six people in each class. And I actually, I have a beginner's class on our schedule. We encourage people to go to that. But also I'm fine if people attend a restorative class or even an all levels class. The only class that I have that has a experience. It's my experience class, and I recommend five of our other classes before joining. And I can absolutely appreciate all of the points that you've made, Renae, and how that can be really helpful for people. But I think there is also something to be said in sharing in a diversity of experience. Like, we do have a lot of neurodivergent people coming to the studio, and sometimes there can be moments where someone needs a quiet class and someone else wants to loudly express how they're feeling. And, you know, sometimes those things don't always go together perfectly. But I think that one thing that can be helpful for people to figure out how something might unfold in their own body is to actually see diverse bodies doing the same movement. And the way that I navigate having different experience and ability levels in the class is I just always share about three variations for each pose. And so there'll always be an option that will be accessible for everyone. And sometimes I do need to go in and just say, oh, hey, till you've, like, got comfortable in this foundation pose, let's not even try those other two options, like, let's just get comfortable in this foundation first. But they can see some of the possibilities where it goes to. And they can also, like, this new person can see experienced people also choosing sometimes the option that feels the most restorative and the most gentle. So I think that there is definitely, for me and how my brain works, I actually love the diversity of experience in the one class and that chance for people to be in a room with other minds and other bodies that are really different from theirs. But we all have this shared group energy of practising together. And I think there is something really special in that, especially if maybe someone has been singled out in other environments, like school or remedial programmes, to actually feel like this is a group for everyone, and everyone can go at their own pace and choose the option that feels right for them. Like, it's. There's definitely moments where I feel like maybe there are people who find my teaching style too slow for them and they want to do some of those Instagram flips or really complicated moves, and we're just not the studio for that.

Renae Stevens: Yeah.

Jo Stewart: Do you have any thoughts, Kristen?

Renae Stevens: Yeah, I've actually.

Kristin Mathiassen: I've got a good example of, like you were saying there, about people being singled out in a class, and this has got nothing to do with teaching yoga. However, I went to a high school a couple of years ago to talk to them about doing a yoga class with a group of young girls in, I think they were grade six, grade seven students, and there was a young girl there with down syndrome who was very high functioning, and she hung out with a fairly cool group at school. And it was mainly because of the fact of her flexibility that she was a part of the cool group because she did gymnastics with the cool kids. And one of the girls came up to me and said, oh, this is such and such. She's going to be so great in your yoga class because she can do this. And this young girl just twisted her body around like nobody's business. You know how some children with down syndrome are incredibly flexible in a very unsafe way? It absolutely scared me that the PE teacher of that school allowed this young girl to do gymnastics in the way that she was doing them. And everybody thought it was fantastic. It was her superpower that she had this flexibility. And for me, that young girl's safety was paramount and she was not being looked after in a safe space within that PE class. When she did come to the yoga class with me, I stopped her several times and assisted her to stay in a safe place with her body and the way that she was moving it. And my fear is, I suppose in a class situation, if teachers aren't trained, they may have a student like this young girl, whether they have down syndrome or not, that the teacher isn't aware of how to keep that body safe. And as teachers, that's our job, to keep people safe. And particularly if they don't know that they're not being safe themselves, if they've been patted on the back all the time saying, wow, you're so flexible, it's amazing. And my fear is just that people going along to two classes and, yeah, not being looked after in the way that they should be, it's paramount.

Jo Stewart: And so do you have any, like, teaching strategies or tools that you put in your language or you put in the poses that you choose? Because I think that ultimately, we do want to keep people safe, but we want to give people the tools to keep themselves safe. So how do you navigate that as an instructor?

Kristin Mathiassen: It's probably a little bit more difficult in my situation. I mean, I generally do one on one classes, but I do do a group chair class every week with disability. And I have a diverse range of folk that come along to that class. I've got kids with cerebral palsy, I've got kids with down syndrome, I've got kids with autism. I've got one young chap that comes in a chair who's who's recently become a paraplegic in the last couple of years. So all of those people have their carers with them. So within that space I always err on the side of caution and I individually will go around and talk to the support workers about, hang on a second, when we go to do this, can you pop a block under here or can you make sure that she doesn't look up too far to the ceiling? Because I'm not sure if she's got instability in the back of her neck, all of those sorts of things. So I'm lucky that I have support workers there to actually help with that instruction to keep them safe. But I do a very big screening before they join my group. Anyway, I think Renae's seen some of my little forms that I get people to fill out and I think that's the whole thing, is that when you're dealing with people with diverse needs like I do, you really, really need to make sure that you've got a very complex way of those people entering your class and you really do have those conversations because it's a fear of mine, I suppose, that what I'm teaching someone to do is going to hurt them. I don't want to hurt anyone. I suppose also too, because people with sensory processing issues, sometimes if you do hurt them, the whole world knows that, you know, it can be very loud and hysterical or it can be very, very silent, which is another thing which we've got to think about too. Some people might hurt themselves in a class and just wander away and you won't see them again.

Jo Stewart: Yeah, it's a thing as well, especially when we're talking about hyper flexibility and maybe people who have eds or other connective tissue issues. Often what feels great in class leads to a pain flare up the next day. So it's not always how you feel at the time, it's that ongoing practise of tuning into how your body also feels after doing these movements. Do you have anything that you kind of bring into your language, renee? Like anything that you use to help people stay safe as they do these practises or.

Renae Stevens: Yeah, I think in built into the way I deliver a little bit in the way you're describing offering. The choice of diversity of options is that is the ability to work progressively. So I do always opt to start with the exercise that promotes the most stability in the physical body and also in the mental and emotional body. So they may not be experiencing the full dynamic part of it yet, or the full challenge physically until they have being able to really master the basic building blocks. And I find if you're managing that multi level group that you were describing, which is more of the open class environment, then one way you can work around that is to choose to demonstrate the most simple and stable exercise and then only verbally instruct progressions. And then those who actually have the skill and are conscious enough or have the amount of practise with you to know what you're talking about will follow you, whereas the others will stay with the most simple that you're demonstrating. And so that can be useful in terms of somebody in a group environment not feeling like, oh, I've got to keep up with everyone else and they're doing this now, so I'll try. And rather, you know, I just usually stay with the basic exercise in my demonstration and I might give verbal options to progress it. And usually I kind of direct that toward for those who feel very comfortable in the exercise or for those who are feeling strong and a sense of integrity here, then you might like to explore something further. So you can always give the options. And I guess that does lead back to empowerment and choice and control. Someone can then be aware of their choices and knowing what their experience will be. If you've given them incremental ways to taste the experience, they can better choose for themselves whether it's right on a particular day. Yeah. So, yeah, I think it is always helpful to stay within what is safe. You're always going to have people in your class who are the risk takers and the daredevils at times, who just want to do what they saw on instagram, you might need to rein that in for the safety of your group because someone else might copy them. So there are some really what we call class control responsibilities. As a teacher, if you're running those kind of open class environments, to be able to rein in with what you can manage is safe. And if you need to reiterate that in this space, I take responsibility for your safety. So I'm going to invite people to please stay within these options today. If you have somebody who may be doing something that is not within the spectrum of what you've offered, but could create a distraction or the challenge of someone else following them. So those are the things, I think, in group environments that are quite specific to the group environment. And yeah, I think we do need to manage it with sensitivity and inclusivity and celebrate people's enthusiasm, not to dampen it or feel authoritarian, but to recognise that there's an element of safety here. And unfortunately, that will be on your shoulders as the instructor or the facilitator?

Jo Stewart: Yeah, no, for real. Like, more so in aerial yoga than definitely in a flaw based practise. Like, I've never experienced having to stop someone doing a movement on the floor, but it's absolutely part of your school set, as an aerial yoga teacher, to just steer that ship so that people have a safe experience and your class is not too chaotic. And I've actually, one of the strategies that I use in my classes is I put my most experience, experienced people up the back of the room and sometimes I will just say, oh, back row. If you know some different variations, you're welcome to go for it. And I put the newer people in the front row, so I'm right there and I can assist, like, a lot more easily and glare at them.

Renae Stevens: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Jo Stewart: And also so they don't actually see what's happening behind them, so they don't have that visual distraction. They just see me in front of them doing the variation of the move that is appropriate for everyone.

Renae Stevens: Yeah, that can be very helpful, I think. And again, it's down to room layout, because there's so many diverse ways to layout your room with your hammocks. But I think having your new clients, or the ones getting adapted to it, close to you, both for visual, auditory and hands on assistance, if you need to provide it, is key. Unfortunately, in the aerial world, the front row turns into the back row when you go upside down. You've always got those challenges, but I do think in the way that you communicate and you prepare people for safety. So, for example, hyperextension can be something that's loved by the hypermobile and could actually be unsafe for the hypermobile. But in order for them to go into an exercise, for example, of hyperextension, I will get them to do quite a strong endurance set of core stability and I will ask them to remember what that felt like. And if they can't keep that same level of core control in terms of their deep support present as they go into a deep mobility experience such as hyperextension, then I make them aware that that could be a place that is unstable for their spine or providing too much compression. So you can educate people as well around the wrist, and that might be a way for them to be more informed about their own decisions and behaviour with their bodies. Looking back in my journey, I wish I had perhaps had more of that education when I was younger and thought that mobility was a gift and later found out it's a curse. But learning how to manage your natural capacities in your body is really important. And I think in the therapeutic space that Christian works in, and I am lucky to work with many clients like this as well. Hypermobility is very common with children and adults with different neurodiversity presentation, and we see this often. So trying to give that child, especially during development, enough experiences of stability in their joints can be really what prevents them from experiencing chronic pain in the future. And I think that is part of our role. And as educators in movement, whether you're in the PE industry, in schools or the PT industries, in gyms, or you're providing therapeutic movement for mental health, you still need to have really an understanding of the human body and know what is safe across the spectrum of presentation.

Rane Bowen: So just to change the topic slightly, I know you've taught many, many people throughout Australia and probably throughout the world, and I was just wondering, how have you seen people putting the training that you do into use since you've started aerial yoga therapeutics training?

Renae Stevens: Well, the actual aerial yoga therapeutics training, as Christian mentioned, has only been delivered for a few years. Christian did come to the first taste tester that was put out into the world, and that was in 2020. So it's been interesting to see a lot of teachers who were already trained in the modality of actually came back to do further study. And it's been, I guess the feedback from them has been quite encouraging for me. I think many of them really felt like they could go back to teaching with more consciousness, with more of an informed approach, and also branch into doing more therapeutic one on one work, which is, if you are a full time teacher, a really wonderful way to manage your career when we can only really teach public classes at peak times of the day. And then we have, you know, unfortunately huge blocks of our day that we can't work in due to work and school commitments of our clients. So being able to do therapeutic sessions for clients who may not be doing the mainstream work or school life can be a really wonderful addition into their professional experience and give them a richness. You know, teaching classes on a general level is general. And, you know, after you do that for 20 years, there's only so much you can achieve right in a class that's generalised. And I think it can wear you down a little bit as a teacher if you really want to see the potential reach in your clients, because, you know, that can only be achieved when you're working attuned to their needs, which really requires either a small group or one on one opportunity. So I found for myself, balancing my experience of group classes, which I still love, for the energy of the group and the support of group energy, is something we all thrive from. But to be able to really see someone through the more challenging stages where you really do see transformation, is that one on one experience. So for a lot of teachers who came back and did the training, even after having extensive education already, I think they felt more confident to go into doing more designated one on one therapeutic sessions. And then for the health professionals that have taken this modality on, it's just been exciting to see that they're including it in their toolkit as OT's putting up the aerial hammock in their OT clinic. Seeing physiotherapists included alongside their pilates exercise therapy, really for often the benefit of regulation, to really provide someone with qualitative experiences that give safety and support when they're going through acute pain or long periods of rehab with chronic pain. So that's been just really exciting to see. And I believe the field will only evolve as we get more health professionals of diverse background, seeing how they can utilise it in their particular focus or specialty. So currently, I've seen it used in rehab and physiotherapy, I've seen it used in mental health, particularly effective in trauma recovery, and seeing Kristen really pioneering it into the diversity of disability spaces. So there is really such an incredible scope. And this is, yeah, the true superpower of the hammock is its diversity. I've been lucky to work with people from the age of four to 94, and I don't know what other modality I could do, apart from the creative arts. That really allows me to use movement in a mind body way for so many different needs. So I think it gives you a diversity of a therapist or a teacher and allows you to connect, connect with so many different people and needs that it creates such a rich experience in life and in seeing healing happening in many different spaces.

Jo Stewart: And that actually leads me into my next question, which is somewhat of a logistical question, because you obviously do need some specialised equipment for aerial yoga. You mentioned that you work with a portable regristan, and you mentioned, Renae, that some people are actually bringing portable rig into situations like a physiotherapy clinic. It's something that I think comes up for potential aerial yoga teachers just thinking about, okay, if I did this training, like, how could I actually teach? So would you like to take me through some of the different scenarios that you've seen people start teaching aerial yoga if maybe you don't have a purpose.

Renae Stevens: Built studio space, so the most adaptable would be the Stanfree frames. There are quite a few different designs, for example, the A frame or the cube. Options, really stable options. I think if you're working therapeutically, for example, in private practise, you may be able to find within your existing building structure one point for Anchorage. So most roofs, for example, have a strong central support system of beams. If you are lucky enough to have that available to you, you can simply bolt in. And obviously this does need to be engineered by a professional, but it's a simple, simple thing. If there's an existing structure that you can access. There are several options for many environments that are inside buildings. If they don't have a structural support available across the roof, there's often a structural or two structural walls, so you can fix a horizontal bar. You can also set up things like truss, which can be either supported on uprights or bolted into those structural walls. So there are options. In the exercise pilates space we have the trap table or the Cadillac table, which has its own existing horizontal and upright bars. So we are exploring that now in much more depth with how we can bring the aerial hammock into a therapeutic use on the track table. So for people who already have existing equipment, that's fantastic. If they are, for example, in a gym set up or they have access to a gym, there may be existing pull up bars or other jungle gym structures that can work quite well. A lot of children's playground equipment now includes attachments for aerial hammock or TRX suspension fitness applications as well. So there are quite a few options. It really is possible in any space. It does require creativity, innovation and some investment. But if you think about the diversity of use, that you will really be able to use this one tool with every client. It does look to pay off in terms of giving you also something that is quite unique and potentially not available everywhere. So it does give many therapists and private practitioners the opportunity to have something that is sought after. And I have clients who do travel an hour and a half to come for a session because they're. There isn't the same opportunities for them to find that elsewhere. So it is, I guess, about seeing the unique value for your particular population and niche and knowing that it's a valuable investment. But there are many, many different ways to rig a hammock. Yeah.

Jo Stewart: And so to segue into what you're doing, Kristen, because I think you're a great example of someone who is kind of starting a newer business like this, like I believe you've just started hiring an external space to run your classes from.

Kristin Mathiassen: Yeah, I've got a very, very small room. I live in a very, very small house. So I'm working in lots and lots of small spaces at the moment. My room that I'm practising from, I have an A framed rig in there. Don't have that much space around it, but it's. I suppose because I'm working one on one and my clients need me to be hands on. I don't require two hammocks. It would be nice eventually to be able to have two, so that I can mirror the movement with my clients, but I find that to be, at the moment, works really quite well. I do sometimes get asked to pull it down and take it places, which you can do, but they're not the lightest things. I think they're about 35 kilos. So once you've folded them up and, you know, packed them in their little bag and put them in the back of the car, you really don't want to put it back up again.

Jo Stewart: And so you leave yours permanently in your teaching space.

Kristin Mathiassen: Mine now is permanently up. Yeah, I've got. In my little tiny unit that I live in, I've got a pull up bar. It's also an a frame, which I practise from at home, and it's in the corner of the room with two windows. And I can't do anything in a high hammock because it's such a small little rig. But I can do some nice restorative work in the hammock. I did actually have the blinds up the other day and I was hanging upside down quite comfortably. And my neighbour, who's 80, came running and knocked on the door and she.

Jo Stewart: Said, oh, I thought you'd fallen down.

Kristin Mathiassen: She walked past the window with her.

Jo Stewart: Dog and saw me hanging.

Kristin Mathiassen: Thought I'd fallen down anyway, so it's. I think I've done things, too with. With some people in the past where we've gone and rigged up on the local soccer ground, on the soccer, golf. And that's been quite interesting, too, when I go camping. Like last weekend, I took one of my hammocks with me and rigged it up on a tree, and Luca and I had a little bit of a play, and that was really lovely. So the versatility of it is quite amazing. You can pack it up and take it for a little bushwalk and find a spot. And I think that's really lovely for us as teachers to be able to have that space as well. In nature, with our hammock, we do become a little bit addicted, I think, from time to time.

Renae Stevens: Yeah.

Kristin Mathiassen: But it's. Yeah, the diversity of utilising it is quite, quite good.

Renae Stevens: Yeah. Nice.

Rane Bowen: Well, I guess I've just got one more question for both you, and this might be a tricky one, but if I guess either of you could distil everything that you've learned and everything that you teach when it comes to aerial yoga down to one core essence, what do you think that one thing would be? And maybe we'll start with you, Renae.

Renae Stevens: Could you say that again?

Rane Bowen: So if you could distil everything that you've learned and teach around aerial yoga, and maybe aerial yoga therapeutics, down to one core essence, what do you think that one thing would be?

Renae Stevens: I guess, in terms of the aerial yoga therapeutics approach, the real core is being able to see someone in terms of their movement presentation, their behavioural presentation, their cognitive aspects, as a result of the state of their nervous system, and really coming back to the keys of nervous system equilibrium and regulation as being the essence of what we're using the tool for. Then there are. There is then the next layer, which could address more specifically your progressions of movement mastery or mindful capacity, and then your next level, which could address your connection and your ability to relate and build more of that social skill basis that's really so life enhancing to encompass it into one thing. I think. I guess for me, the aerial hammock is a tool that, when you become skilled at using it, you realise that you have developed this incredible breadth of transferable skills. So it makes you better at everything that you facilitate, because you've become so refined and sensitive, too many layers of an individual's presentation. And I think that sensitivity is a very valuable skill that you can take across the breadth of any other interactive facilitation you might do in life or as a therapeutic facilitator. So I'm not sure if I can capture the essence like you're asking. Graham says something really contained that was beautiful.

Jo Stewart: And what I really got from your answer, Renae, is this is a tool that helps you work with all the.

Renae Stevens: Layers of who you are. ABSOLUTELY. And I think when you are honoured with the position of working with somebody in their experience of that, then you only grow as an individual and as a therapist, because you become exposed to this journey of what it is to be human. And it helps you, in many ways, know how to navigate life and support others navigate life to the best of your ability.

Jo Stewart: It actually connects me into some of the amazing feedback that I've got from clients, I'm sure you both have got feedback like this as well, where sometimes I have no idea what is happening in someone's personal life because they didn't share that with me, but afterwards they'll come back and say, oh, just trying new things in the hammock and being able to choose how far I push myself and how far I go out of my comfort zone really helped me navigate this challenging period of my life where I had to go out of my comfort zone and choose which path was right for me. So it's very much this macrocosm of the things that we work in the classroom, tuning into our bodies, tuning into our minds, kind of tuning into what is going to be the most helpful choice for us at that moment, is an absolutely transferable practise and process out of the hammock and off the mat and back out into the world.

Renae Stevens: Yeah. As a practical, physiological, physical experience, something that's so felt in its sense, you get to explore so many aspects of your sensory world, your emotional, mental world, understanding and navigating challenges and limits, and finding creative expression as well. So I do think it gives you the opportunity to practise in a safe place, your exploration of all of these things, and with the right guidance, it can be an incredible attunement to an individual's needs being met on many levels. So, yeah, I do value it as one of the most therapeutic tools I've ever been able to utilise, and I do think it's helped me use every other modality I work with better.

Jo Stewart: And how about you, Kristen? What is your one key essence of everything that you do?

Kristin Mathiassen: Look, I think for me it's the joy that I see on the faces of some of my clients. It's the joy of feeling safe, I guess, in that stillness. And the hammock gives them that hug, I suppose, and allows them to actually feel into their bodies and know where their bodies are when they get to that point that they, you know, one of. One of my clients comes bounding in now and she pats the hammock and says hello to it. It's just such a beautiful thing to see someone sort of, I suppose it's that achievement they feel a particular personal achievement from learning, I guess, but it's. Yeah, it's. To me, it's joy. It just brings so much joy in so many ways to so many people. The diversity of the hammock is just phenomenal, I think. Yeah, well, I think we all agree with that.

Renae Stevens: One.

Jo Stewart: So thank you so much for joining us today. It's been really lovely speaking with you, especially about a subject that we're all so passionate about.

Rane Bowen: Yeah, thanks.

Renae Stevens: Thank you for the opportunity to bring us together. Jo and Rane thank you.

Jo Stewart: And Kristin, thank you.

Rane Bowen: We really hope you enjoyed our conversation with Renae and Kristin. We'll be including their links in our show notes. If you like what we do. We'd love it if you could write us a quick review on Apple Podcast or leave us some stars on Spotify. This is a great way to help others find the podcast and show your support. We also love hearing from our listeners and finding out what you enjoy about the podcast. We also really appreciate it when you share our posts about each episode or leave us a comment online. You can find us at the Flow artist podcast, Facebook page or look for run loves yoga or Garden of Yoga on Instagram. Were a DIY operation and your community support really helps. Our next episode will be coming out on the first Monday of next month and it's a great flow on from this one. We'll be speaking with Freya Bennett Overstall about the yin and yang of inversions. Special thanks to our Patreon supporters. Your donations help us cover editing and hosting costs and we really appreciate you so much. We'd like to explore express our gratitude to Ghostsoul for granting us permission to use their track baby robots as our theme song. Be sure to check out Ghostsoul dot bandcamp.com to discover more of their incredible music. Once again, we thank you so much for spending your precious time with us. We appreciate you more than words can express. He arohanui maua kia koutou katoa sending you big big love.

Friends of Flow

Similar Episodes