Aerial Yoga turns fitness upside down

FRESNO, Calif.

Yoga at sunrise is nothing new, but in Fresno's Tower District they're pursuing "Namaste" in knots. Amy Querin of Fresno Dance Collective, or NOCO, works with aerial fabrics as a performer. She incorporates dance and daring acrobatics into her routines, all while suspended in the air.

"It's fun and interesting and dangerous and exciting," said Amy. "I've always been hungry to fly and climb. It takes a lot of upper body strength, a lot of special calculated information about knots, and a lot of risk tolerance to drop out."

For the more risk averse, you can stay closer to the ground with aerial yoga and aerial hammock classes.

The classes at the California Arts Academy blend traditional yoga with aerial arts. All fitness levels are welcome, even a total novice like me. Amy showed me how to invert upside down using the fabric. First-timers are often intimidated.

Amy said, "The first challenge for beginners is just coming to class because it's scary. Everyone asks me if they're gonna fall." She promises no one's ever taken a tumble, though you will get tangled.

Nadine Dubina -- a fitness trainer -- signed up six weeks ago and got hooked. She's now working her way *up* to performance level: "It's keeping my interest, it's keeping me strong, both in my body and my mind because you have to use both at the same time."

Blake Richesin, the only guy in the class, says it beats the gym, with the endless variety of moves: "Very challenging, yeah. And you can make this harder, make it easier on yourself."

The aerial summer session is booked but Amy teaches all year long, including a class for kids, ages 8 to 12. The next session of classes starts after August 12th.

You can also catch NOCO's aerial performances at Fulton 55, Warnor's Theatre, and Full Circle. The dance group also says they're hiring performers.

For more information, go to their Facebook page or e-mail Amy Querin

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