Rope yoga, or Russa yog, started here in Ann Arbor. I have seen the studio on S. State Street (between Washington and Liberty) and the Ann Arbor Observer recently profiled the studio/founders. For some reason I never made it to the State Street studio, it’s one of many Ann Arbor yoga studios I have on my list but never seem to visit. This week, Vie fitness studio on S. Ashley is starting to offer classes, and I went to a free class on Tuesday night.
Now, when I was a kid, and we had the “climb the rope” activity in gym, I was always one of the earthbound kids, watching with a mixture of awe and jealousy as some tiny, wiry kid got to the ceiling and back on the rope. Maybe it is because I’m tall (and therefore heavy), maybe it is just because I’m weak, but pull-ups, chin-ups, and any kind of rope climbing have always been something to shun for fear of embarrassment or worse.
The photo illustrates that shame-inducing, impossible rope-climbing activity I remember from gym class. NOT rope yoga. For photos of rope yoga, see the Russa yog website.
Still, my yoga classes at the Ann Arbor YMCA often featured “rope work”. The old Y had all sorts of pegs in the wall, and we’d essentially tie ourselves to the pegs to get different stretches than normal. For instance, downward dog when the wall (or a partner) is pulling back on my hips is an altogether different stretch. I get a little less hamstrung and a little more stretch elsewhere. So, I knew ropes + yoga = good.
I overcame my fear and signed up for a free course. All I had to lose was a little dignity and an hour of my evening. The yoga class got me into Vie’s upstairs studio (previously I’d been in the downstairs spinning studio). They have weights and other fitness equipment upstairs, and a glassed studio with about 8 ropes hanging from anchors below the ceiling.
Fear snuck back in as I approached the rope. It was kind of rough, and I wished I’d brought my cycling gloves. But, I started the class by hanging from the rope and stretching my side closest to it in a gentle C-shape, nice. There were some moments where I struggled to pull myself up (or push myself up), but doing Virabhadrasana III (Warrior III) using the ropes was lovely. I got the same feeling of flight that I have achieved for a moment here and there in previous attempts, but the ropes stabilized it and let me absorb it. Power! Joy! Balance! Yoga!
So, I think I still will try to make a class at the “mother” studio on State Street, but I’m happy I tried Rope Yoga at Vie and will probably try again, I have to keep working on my core and my upper body strength, after all.