For the Silky Sunday crowd, Earth Day is all year long

Aerial fitness fans take to the Banyan trees of Bayfront Park in Sarasota as plenty of spectators enjoy the show

Aerial arts Instructor Sam Mellor, who started Silky Sunday

by Carlene Cobb

With silk scarves looped over their sturdy branches, Bayfront Park’s beloved banyan trees become tall, strong partners to Sarasota yogis and yoginis every Sunday, as they enjoy an ethereal dance. An amazing hybrid of yoga poses and the art of trapeze, aerial yoga done outside joins the acrobatically-inclined with the beauty of the Earth for a truly spectacular sight.

Doing things outside is always better,” says Samantha (Sam) Mellor, aerial arts and fitness instructor with Sarasota Warrior Freerunning Academy. While she teaches yoga with aerial silks at the Sarasota Warrior studio, Mellor discovered the trees in Bayfront Park at Marina Jack Island in Sarasota really elevated the artform. The trees, she says, “give the height needed, and so much more,” and she calls the experience “amazing” and the setting “magical.”

Wrapped in silks, those dedicated to this gravity-defying fitness workout enjoy suspension, inversion, graceful strength and the empowering sense of flying like a circus performer. The product of blending many artforms known for balance, flexibility and grace, aerial yoga seems to attract individuals who mix strength and poise with their penchant for thrill-seeking; and of course, a healthy bit of fearlessness.

At first only a few people rhythmically swung from the banyan trees of Bayfront Park, but soon enough the crowd grew, promoting Silky Sundays to a Sarasota staple – and a spectator sport. Routine observers now plan picnics, walks and bike rides on Sundays’ late afternoons, for a chance to enjoy the antics of those free spirits swaying from giant branches. In addition to tree-swinging, onlookers may observe hula hooping, slacklining (similar to tightrope walking) and AcroYoga (a blend acrobatics and yoga).

Silky Sunday is beautiful to watch,” says Mellor. “Especially at sunrise and sunset, [it] creates extra energy and is calming at the same time…the park adds the dimension of nature, peace, fresh air, sunshine, water and sky views and – most important – those banyan trees. It is absolutely a body, mind and spirit connection.”

Observing the aerial silk artists as they become one with their remarkable green partner for a dance only nature could provide, one wonders what would be possible if humanity sought to work in tandem with the environment in all we do.

Come see Silky Sunday for yourself!
Behold Silky Sunday every week at Bayfront Park, 2 Marina Plaza, in Sarasota, 4 p.m. – sunset. Learn more online at SarasotaWarrior.com, or call (941)999-1030.

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