Interview transcript - Monique, Master Teacher at Aerial Yoga Academy

Transcript of an interview with a local wellness clinic in the Northern Rivers region of Australia.  Just who is Master Monique and why does aerial yoga light her up?

What were you doing before aerial yoga?

Teaching yoga in cities and countries all over the world.   Learning and studying as much as I could about holistic health.  Anything yoga related.  I couldn’t get enough.  

How did you get involved in yoga?

I was in England and my friend invited me to come to a hot yoga class.   It was so cold that I though, well, at least I’d be warm.  I went and absolutely loved it.  I remember the feeling.  It was the most peaceful I’d ever felt.  And I’d made it happen.  Through my own body.  Through my own breath.  Knowing I could feel that way again without any external assistance, it lit something up in me.

Who was your most influential teacher?

Michelle.  He’d studied directly under Iyengar.  His knowledge was vast but he also had a playfulness about him.  That’s how we connected.  We’d joke around.  But when the class started we’d both be in a different headspace.  We both had that passionate hunger.  

How did you move into aerial yoga?

I trained under Christopher Harrison who started aerial yoga.   I enrolled for teacher training before I’d even tried it.  It looked beautiful, elegant.  And I could see how being slightly elevated would have so many benefits traditional yoga wouldn’t offer.  And it just looked fun.  

You’ve been on the cover of yoga magazines sprouting the benefits of aerial yoga.  What are the key ones that first jumped out at you?  

The core is continuously activated, continuously stabilising.  As a weightless practice it had less impact on the muscles, joints.  And offered full decompression of the spine.  I was very aware of the emphasis TCM and other traditional medicines placed on the spine as the key to youthfulness and longevity.

Your online offering is incredibly comprehensive, what sparked the move to teaching online? 

After spending $10,000 on my training, having to take time off work…   I was teaching 40 classes of yoga a week and my classes were full.  I left a lot of students behind to do this training.  Then the food, the accommodation.  It was costly experience.  And I remember leaving thinking this was great, but it’s missing traditional elements of yoga.  I knew, with seven diplomas in traditional yoga, I could bring something extra.  The breath.  The energy body.  I wanted it to be affordable, flexible, accessible, with no pressure.  I believe everyone naturally absorbs more information when relaxed, not stressed.  

You’ve been teaching now for 10 years, what’s been the biggest challenge compared to traditional yoga?

Aerial yoga is very much about time management.  You have to maintain the flow of the class while making adjustments whilst making sure everyone is safe.  And calm.  So in the course I teach techniques to adjust five people at the same time.  Little things like that. 

What has aerial yoga taught you about people? 

How people approach the poses tells you so much about their personality and what they’ve experienced in life.  You have students who won’t trust the hammock.  That tells me a lot.  Who won’t let go and relax.  Students who jump in before you even finish teaching it, the fearless daredevils.   

What’s been your biggest personal challenge, your weakness?    

I’ve always had an underlying depression, anxiety and over-sensitivity to energy.  I have to be aware of what I’m choosing to think or feel. Usually if I feel that way it’s because I haven’t fully looked after or honored myself in some way.  I’ve put myself out there too much, or repressed how I was really feeling.  The energetic sensitivity – it has taken a life long practice to be able to find that dial and then dim it down.  

You look half your age.  If that.  Other than aerial yoga what’s your secret to youthfulness?

Water – I drink close to 4 litres a day.  I won’t eat before midday to give my body as much lubrication as I can before it has to breakdown food.  I never hold onto grudges.  I could easily have held on to many things.  But as an act of self-love I choose peace over anything.  My mum always said no stress was worth getting a wrinkle on your face!  Diet.   

I make sure that 90% of my diet is actually food that’s alive.  Not from cans.  Not refined.   Since I was a kid I was naturally drawn to fruit, lots of fruit, salads, vegetables – things that are actually alive. 

An inspiring story of determination, diligence and the ever-so practical beauty of aerial yoga