What is Aerial Yoga? With Michelle Dortignac, Founder of Unnata® Aerial Yoga

On some level, we are all constantly striving for balance. We continually navigate our way between our needs and wants, work and play, yin and yang, freedom and responsibility.

Learning to FLAUNT! means putting aside expectations and boldly taking steps forward, regardless of the outcome. FLAUNT is about tuning in, trusting our own truth, and creating our own sense of balance. Today’s guest, Michelle Dortignac personifies this philosophy of balance in many different arenas. Shortly after graduating from college she heeded her inner voice and moved to New York, catching a ride in the back of a muffin van. Regardless of her parents’ assertion that they were not going to support her ambition to study dance and yoga in New York, she continued on, forging her own path, based on the calling of her heart.

Fast forward 25 years, and Michelle is still in New York, and is the successful founder and creator of Unnata® Aerial Yoga. She is an E-RYT 200 certified Yoga instructor of close to 20 years, while during most of those years also being a professional aerial acrobatics performer.

In Unnata®, Michelle successfully integrated the practices of Dance and Yoga. In 1998, she became certified to teach Vinyasa Yoga through the OM Yoga center, and began teaching at the center. In 2002, Michelle transitioned her Dance training from the floor to the air, learning the circus art form of Tissu/Silks. That same year, she left OM Yoga center, continuing to explore her unique vision of Aerial Dance and Yoga. She practiced at home, in Circus studios, and at the renowned Dharma Mittra Yoga center, culminating all her studies into this combined class — Unnata Aerial Yoga. Although the first classes were taught in January 2006, Unnata Aerial Yoga is an organic hybrid that has grown out of a lifetime of study on movement and meditation.

What is Aerial Yoga?

Aerial Yoga is a fun and transformative new way to practice traditional yoga.

Using a soft, fabric aerial hammock suspended from the ceiling, you’ll explore new and traditional yoga asanas (yogic postures) with your body weight partially or fully supported. This allows you to expand flexibility, increase range of motion, build strength, lengthen the spine, and relax the nervous system. Never more than a few feet off the ground, you’ll let go into gravity, be held in the hammock, and awaken yogic bliss.

Aerial Yoga is the natural evolution of Hatha Yoga (the physical style of yoga most common in the West). Master yoga teacher BKS Iyengar popularized the use of props to facilitate proper body alignment in asanas; and for decades, Iyengar-trained instructors have used “rope walls,” to help students deepen yoga poses and safely invert.

Since 2006, Michelle Dortignac, founder of Unnata® Aerial Yoga, has pioneered the use of the aerial hammock as a prop to explore and advance traditional asana practice. Unnata Yoga is rooted in yogic principles, and taught by rigorously trained, certified yoga instructors.

Now you can find dozens of branded styles of aerial yoga popping up throughout the world. Some styles focus on fitness, others on circus arts and performance. In an Unnata Yoga class, you’ll get fit and have fun flying; but more importantly, you’ll experience true yoga: the union of mind, body, breath and intention.

Unnata Aerial Yoga was born of Michelle Dortignac’s 20+ years of yogic teaching, meditation practice, and movement and aerial arts performance. It’s a comprehensive discipline, grounded in yogic tradition that offers challenge and change for your whole being – body, mind and spirit.

Unnata Yoga teachers are devoted, experienced yoga instructors who have completed thorough training to safely incorporate the hammock into their yoga classes. Each teacher has a unique background and style of yoga; but all Unnata Yoga teachers understand the principles of yoga, and can safely guide you through a playful and transformative aerial yoga class!