Q: What do you do when you’re an aerial dancer who spends hours training in climbing gyms and rehearsing and performing on building tops?
A: You get grounded.
Meghan Goodman is both an aerial dancer and a yoga instructor. Although she has studied dance “on the ground,” it’s her career as an aerial dancer that distinguishes her from the pack. She’s part of the Vancouver company Aeriosa Dance Society, where work takes her to unusual stages like the top of the library downtown, on city walls, or overlooking ledges. It’s not for the faint of heart. Meghan’s a real-life spider-woman.
During her journey as a dancer, she made a pit stop at yoga where she realized it was a great way to cross train. Initially gravitating towards Vinyasa yoga, she felt that her yoga and dance training were becoming too similar, so a friend suggested Iyengar yoga.
What is Iyengar Yoga?
Iyengar yoga was developed by B.K.S. Iyengar of Pune, India. This form of yoga is known for its attention to correct physical alignment in the poses, leading to the goal of meditation in action.
By using props such as ropes, straps, blocks and bolsters, Iyengar allows students to find better mobility and steadiness. Although it’s often recommended for beginners and for people recovering from illness or injury, an advanced Iyengar practice demands a high level of strength, balance and agility. This type of yoga stresses the importance of inverted poses, and we work all levels to prepare for them appropriately.
How do your Iyengar yoga and aerial dance practices complement each other?
Many of the body shapes we use in aerial dance are similar to yoga poses. Having the time and tools to develop the poses safely on the ground in an Iyengar yoga class makes the work in the air more efficient and safe.
Iyengar also introduced me to the study and practice of pranayama, which has allowed for more steady breathing while dancing 100 feet in the air. The pranayama practice and restorative work from Iyengar have also given me the tools to rebalance my body and adrenal system after the aerial work.
Tell us what it’s like to hang from buildings!
Well, for one, it’s exhilarating. The views are amazing and you get a whole new sense of the landscape of the city. You develop a very unique physical relationship to the architecture itself, learning its curves, ledges, pillars, the textures of its surfaces and the people and animals that inhabit its spaces.
When Aeriosa creates a piece for a specific building, we are often rehearsing in public. There’s always an audience watching the process, watching as we figure things out and create the work. I love how as an art form it’s so accessible.
I’m always happy to be heading to a dance rehearsal that’s outside in the fresh air, eye level with the birds, the clouds moving overhead and the sky as our roof. We joke around about a ‘typical day at the office’, which might include swinging around outside someone else’s office, and seeing their surprised faces peering out. It’s really hard work, but so much fun!