Denver-Based Healer Devine Willerth Is Turning Yoga on Its Head

Denver-Based Healer Devine Willerth Is Turning Yoga on Its Head
Kasie Altamura
Yogini, massage therapist and sound healer Devine Willerth is launching aerial yoga classes, also known as AIReal Yoga, through Sukha Healing Arts, a wellness business she’s owned for two years. Her grand opening takes place April 1, and includes thirty-minute sample classes, lectures on aerial yoga and raffle drawings. But before you sign up to get turned upside down,we thought you might want to know what, exactly, aerial yoga is.
Kasie Altamura
Westword: What the heck is aerial yoga, anyway?

Devine Willerth: For me, it’s an extension of my mat practice and a way to further repair and restore my body.

No, but seriously. What is it?

Basically, it’s yoga that uses hammocks as a prop. I call them hammocks, but what I’m really talking about is this soft, looped fabric that helps you get into all sorts of inversions — ones you might not have thought you could do. The thing I love about aerial yoga is how easy it is on the joints. You’re engaging your muscles, but you aren’t stressing or straining anything because you’re getting the support of the fabric. You know what else I love?

What's that?

How often are you able to flip upside down and hang. There’s something that puts us in this childlike spirit whenever we’re able to reverse gravity. Like any workout, aerial yoga is challenging at times, but it’s really silly, and it exposes how limitless we can be as human beings.

You've cleared up a lot of our questions about aerial yoga. So what’s the format of a typical class?

First you’ll come into the studio and get sized for your hammock. I’m focusing on fundamental classes, but any form of yoga – yin, restorative, vinyasa, power – can be transformed for the silk. After you’re sized, you’ll take some time to get adjusted to the silk. You have to build trust. You have to know that the silk will support you. My full-length classes are typically 75 minutes, and they are similar to a traditional yoga class in the sense that we’ll work on flexibility, stability, balance, and strength training — and inversion therapy, of course! I like to throw in hands-on adjustments for people who are open to that, and at the very end there’s a lovely Savasana, which is done in the hammock.

Can anyone do aerial yoga?

Yes! It’s safe for any age, height and size.
click to enlarge KASIE ALTAMURA
Kasie Altamura
How’d you learn about this weird form of yoga?

I was at a workshop in Chicago six or seven years ago. The workshop was built around circus arts, and there was looped fabric. That was my introduction to the hammocks. When I came back to Denver, I couldn’t find any aerial classes specific to yoga. There were acrobatic and circus classes here that used hammocks — but nothing based on the premise of yoga. I’m an alignment junkie, and I was looking for something that was going to change my mat practice. So I continued to develop an aerial yoga practice on my own, and then I discovered AIReal Yoga, the first and only form of aerial yoga that’s accredited by the Yoga Alliance. Aerial yoga is still pretty dang new, and as far as I know, I'm the only one doing it in Denver who is accredited.

How often do you have to do aerial yoga to see results?

You’ll see results in a single class. My recommendation is to support whatever else you’re already doing with one aerial yoga class a week. The thing is, it’s addicting! You might want to come to more classes once you’ve tried it. Right now, I’m still developing my schedule and figuring out the high-capacity times. Anybody who's interested in trying aerial yoga can find my schedule online. I also host group lessons for people who want to grab a few friends and set their own class time.

The daylong grand opening will be held Saturday, April 1, at 77 Vassar Street, from 10 a.m to 5 p.m. For more information on aerial yoga or to register for a class, visit the Sukha Healing Arts website.
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Jamie Siebrase is a Denver-based freelance writer, and author of the forthcoming Falcon Guide Hiking Wth Kids, Colorado: 52 Great Hikes for Families.
Contact: Jamie Siebrase