New Studio Coming to Texas!

This past month, I got to interview Anne McCarthy, who is taking a journey that many across the country are also trekking upon this decade and many more are dreaming of: opening an aerial yoga studio.   Anne is leading a team of yoga teachers as they embark on creating a place for aerial yoga in the South Texas area. Here’s a view into her journey.

Rebekah: How did you get into aerial yoga?

Anne: I started dance in high school and danced through college. In 2002, I tried yoga for the first time. In 2010, I started to study yoga more seriously. It allowed me to find stillness for the first time. After my mom passed away from brain cancer in 2012, I went to my first aerial silks class and have been practicing ever since. When I went to yoga teacher training, I began to combine the two art forms. I remember the first time I did downward facing dog in an aerial hammock. My back felt free and my heart softened. A light turned on within me and I knew that I needed to share aerial yoga in San Antonio.

R: What made you decide to open a studio?

A: I began teaching aerial yoga workshops in 2014. It was really hard to find spaces that would be safe and could accommodate aerial classes. I found one studio and we sold out every class. I knew I wanted to be able to teach more than twice a week. The only way to do that was to open a studio for myself.



R: It’s always hard to find a space for aerial. How did you go about finding the right space?

A: After looking at many spaces over the last year, I was starting to get discouraged. It is so incredibly difficult to find a place with height and an amazing ceiling.  I kept teaching a workshop series twice a week.  Then in March, things just lined up. I serve on a board for a non-profit yoga school that was starting a capital campaign. One of the other board members brought up an existing yoga studio for sale.  I had been once and remembered a big i-beam that I thought could be perfect for aerial yoga. The space had this wonderful quality to it, truly something special. There is just this amazing energy to it.    Another board member, Desiree, lived nearby and was also interested in the studio.  We met and within 3 weeks made an offer on the studio.

R: How did you go about making sure that your space is ready to handle aerial loading?

A: My aerial teachers, Julia Langenberg and Laura DiPasquale, put a huge emphasis on safety and taught me to ask lots of questions about structures. Julia put me in touch with an engineer that she had used for her aerial studio.   I had the engineer out to the studio and learned that it was a prefabricated metal building with z-purlins off the ibeam.   I learned that these metal buildings are not built to support extra weight besides the roof and the required safety factor.   I thought we were going to be able to it, until the engineer recommended a free standing structure inside the space.   Then we started the next part, trying to get it right.

From my teachers, I knew that in aerial the standard is a 10:1 safety factor and requires at least 2,000 pounds of dynamic weight per student.  With aerial yoga, I believe a lot of people think you can lower that standard.  However, in my classes, I know we swing and flip into the hammocks.  That is a lot of movement for many people all at once.   I wanted to maintain that level of safety for my students.

We ended up with an engineer that had been a performer at SeaWorld and worked for SRO Associates, a theatre production company who builds the sets and designs shows for many places.   So when we began, everyone had some understanding of the unique needs and types of dynamic movement produced by aerialists and aerial yogis.   I worked with them to come up with good spacing and layout for our studio and then had the engineer run the numbers and create the official design.   SRO has a metal shop and was able to build it off sight.   It was amazing to watch them load in 500 pound i-beams and see the structure go up.   We have 18 student hammocks and an instructor hammock.   The engineer designed it so that everyone can be swinging and flipping at the same time.  It is such a great feeling teaching in a space where I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the rigging is all held to that standard of 2,000 lbs of dynamic movement.

The following is a time-lapse video of the internal rigging being installed. (Aerial teachers everywhere share your excitement!)


R: What sorts of surprises have you encountered in the process of opening a studio?

A: It has been an amazing learning experience. I looked at spaces with wood beams and talked to engineers and knew it wasn’t possible to rig that many students safely from wood. Before this, I never would have questioned rigging off an i-beam. I thought all i-beams were created equal. I have learned that there are so many elements to look into. (When the building was designed, what safety load for the roof was included – did they just meet the basic safety requirements or go above, does it snow and add more weight to the structure.) Now that we have a freestanding rig in the space, I feel like this is a wonderful way to rig. It allows everyone to see the structure and understand what they are hanging from.

R: Tell us more about your team.

A: We have an amazing team. Besides myself, my partner Desiree Whitney is also a certified yoga teacher and did aerial yoga training this summer. The yoga school we studied at (the Esther Vexler Yoga School) focuses on Iyengar style yoga with lots of props and modifications.  So for our style of yoga, the aerial hammock is another prop and makes yoga so much fun! We also have an amazing group of traditional yoga teachers: Michelle Bowles, a yoga therapist, Debbie Pedersen, a certified Iyengar yoga instructor, Tricia Messinger, a thai massage yoga teacher, Donna Foster, a power yoga instructor, and Cathy West, a vinyasa teacher.

R: What is the name of your studio and how did you decide on the name?

A: Aerial Yoga Boerne. We really debated over several variations. Boerne is a small town 15 minutes north of San Antonio where the studio is located. We are the only full yoga studio in the area. While we have many styles of yoga, we know aerial yoga is rare and wanted to highlight it. In the end, we kept it simple to describe what we do and where we do it.


R: What do you love about the aerial arts?

A: I love the way aerial arts focuses me. When you climb the silks, it’s the only thing you can think about. I found it to be a form of mediation, keeping me fully present in every moment.  In aerial arts, you must fully focus your attention to keep you safe. I also have never had strength. Through training, I see myself become stronger.  I love that aerial arts blend together dance, strength, and grace.

R: Who are you most excited to teach?

A: I love teaching students who are new to yoga and aerial. The feeling of flipping upside down for the first time is incredible and I love sharing that with people who don’t think they can. I love watching the growth as they find strength.

R: What is one thing that’s got everybody talking about your studio?

A: Besides the fact that we have an amazing rig for 18 students?! We also have yoga rope walls, tons of props, amazing teachers, and a beautiful space. There is something special here. When you walk in, you know you are in a warm and welcoming space.
Anne, thank you so much for the interview! Aerial Yoga Boerne will have their official ribbon cutting on October 22, 2015. We wish them the best of luck. To find out more about how you can “build your yoga practice from the ground up,” visit

Not sure what to expect in an aerial yoga class? Watch this time-lapse of a class at Aerial Yoga Boerne:

Ways to connect with Aerial Yoga Boerne:
Instagram: @aerialyogaboerne
Twitter: @yogaboerne



Steel Vs Aluminum

I hear aerialists say all the time not to connect an aluminum carabiner to a steel carabiner, or vice versa, but no-one can explain why that is.  Can you shed light on the subject?

-Philadelphia, PA


This is a hot button topic, so I’m not going to try to cover the whole thing from top to bottom.  This seems to be prominent amongst “Circus” folk, and comes from a very small thing made into a big thing.


So here is some info:

The “reason” not to use Aluminum touching Steel in various applications is that there is a chemical reaction between the two that will cause the chemically weaker Aluminum to degrade faster than the Steel.


That being said:

— When I heard of this, I asked an Engineer and a man who’s expertise is Metallurgy (who was brought in special by NASA to evaluate why the Space Shuttle blew up) and both told me there is “no risk unless your equipment has been sitting together at the bottom of the ocean for 1000 years or so”.

–Steel and Aluminum are used together in building Airplanes and Submarines… two of the highest Safety Regulated things on the planet.

–I work for a “Big Company” and we have from 300-600 pages of inspections we perform each week on our Rigging equipment due to Liability and a High Safety Practices Standard.  We don’t have one page of documentation that says not to use Steel and Aluminum together, nor has it ever been raised as a concern.

–I have not been able to find any documentation from the Manufacturers (Petzel, Black Diamond, Rock Exotica…etc) that states any sort of warning indicating any risk in using Steel and Aluminum in conjunction.  These companies have to make equipment to ANSI standards, and are overwhelmingly documented on every aspect of their equipment.  If it was a credible concern, wouldn’t there be a red flag on the equipment that states so?  Feel free to contact any manufacturer, they are required to provide you specs on their equipment and any hazards related to their use.


— ENTIRE ROCK CLIMBING AND RESCUE, Military, Firemen, and Rope Access Industry… World wide… For decades… Uses aluminum and steel equipment…millions of times a year… To safeguard and rescue people. There are 100x more rock climbers and ropes rescue people than there are circus people. An entire industry… That is regulated by ANSI standards (acrobatic rigging is not).  Are to believe that they have simply missed the memo on this issue?

As long as you are using it within its limits, any piece of equipment (steel or aluminum) should be expected to work as intended.

As a side note:

-Your Swivels that you hang from… those are Steel shafts and ball-bearings in an Aluminum Casing.

-Your Aluminum Auto Lock carabiners… the springs that cause them to lock are made of Steel.

– your Rescue Pulleys you hang from, those are Aluminum bodies with a Steel shaft the Pulley rolls on.

Take a look at your own equipment, I bet you can find more.


As for just using steel equipment:

Steel is stronger, but more expensive.  Aluminum equipment is more prevalent and widely used successfully in millions of applications each year.  It’s lighter, doesn’t rust, and made to be strong.   You may encounter a facility or employer that requires you to use nothing but steel.  That being the case, you have to do what they say.  I believe that the Aerial Rigging inspector I spoke with in New York required that our theatre show use Steel Auto locking carabiners, but upon looking at the written standards, it was not indicated as such the document provided.

~Fred Ropes


Comments (carried over from previous website)

I use aluminum biners on steel eyelets quite often in my performances and here is what happens. The harder steel will dent the aluminum on the first hang and over many performances the friction between the harder steel and the softer aluminum will cause the dent to worsen and cause metal burs on the edges of that wear point. after many performances and practices I still haven’t needed to take them out of service but I am more mindful of which biners I run ropes through and which biners I use for steel contact. ~Trevor Gash, Edmonton, Alberta

Any roofer will tell you not to put two different metals together because you will have problems, after several decades. But the notion that you can’t combine steel and aluminum carabiners in a circus rigging is an example of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing. ~Dave Gillies, Founder, Director, Performer at The Give and Take Jugglers



Two Silks on One Rescue 8?

Is it safe to rig two separate silks on one rescue 8 accommodate a higher rig that your fabrics aren’t long enough for?

~L.K, aerial dancer


marissa on two fabrics

DISCLAIMER: I AM NOT A RIGGER. The words below are my personal opinion based on my experience, and basic understanding of rigging. It is always best to consult guidance from a qualified rigger when rigging any aerial equipment. 

In short, yes. You are not changing the load on the rescue 8 when you do this, and that’s important to know when analyzing the safety of the rigging. What makes it safe/unsafe is how you tie the knot. If your knots are loose, and it unravels, well, then obviously that makes for a very dangerous situation. There is certainly less risk in using one piece of fabric because there is smaller room for human error in the knots at the top (not to say there is no risk, but just smaller).

I use this technique all the time. My favorite reason is to have two silks of different colors. (The picture above comes to us from one of my students, Ma

risa Luboff.) I have also put two fabrics on one when I cut fabric that was really long only to find out I needed the length when I was teaching at a circus camp.

I like playing it safe so I usually use up a lot of fabric in tying my knots, and in my knots after the main knots, and back-up knots on the back-up knots. I tend to try to keep the top of fabrics out of pictures because they can look like beehives sometimes when I do this. Not pretty, but safe, and that’s what I go for. Others have found ways to do things both pretty and safe, and that’s why I have pulled from other resources (see below).

Keep in mind you don’t have to use one rescue 8 to accomplish your goal. You can do what the aerial yogis do and use a carabineer or ring for each fabric and wa-la! You can add a spacer for added distance between the fabric. I have included pictures below from Aerial Essentials ( as well as a rigging video on how to tie a single fabric to a ring. There are many ways to do this, but they show a way that works just as well as any other. (Just pretend that the sling is cut into two pieces and the bottom, and you’ll have what you are looking for.)