Modern aerial yoga was conceived in the early 2000s and has developed into different forms. One of these is Vata Aerial Yoga, which is offered right here at the Kroc Center Memphis. The Sanskrit word “Vata” translates to energy, air, or wind. According to Ayurveda (the traditional Hindu system of medicine based on the idea of balance in bodily systems), Vata is responsible for mental and physical adaptability and is the energizing force of the body and mind. The setup used at the Kroc Center is the Yoga Trapeze, which was perfected by Lucas Rockwood at Yoga Body. It includes a sling and three sets of straps at varying heights. Kandra Kolehmainen, 53, is certified through Yoga Body as an instructor. 

Love at First Flight

Kandra was drawn to the practice while visiting friends in Utah who had a yoga sling; she bought her own the minute she got back to Memphis. The sling gave her incredible range of motion, strengthening and stretching her body at the same time. As an instructor, Kandra makes an effort to connect with her students and bring something new to each class. She believes in its effectiveness, both physically and emotionally.  

The 411

Kroc Center’s Vata Aerial Yoga class incorporates strength training and core work alongside traditional elements of yoga. Kandra’s favorite part of class is the use of the sling for inversions. She describes it as, “The part where you get to feel like a kid and hang upside down. Not only does it feel fantastic, but it also takes pressure off your spine and allows you to see things from a new perspective.” 

The latter part of class focuses on dynamic yoga postures and flexibility. The final stage, Savasana, where you lie cradled in the sling and gently sway almost lulls you to sleep. Kandra says, “Everyone looks peaceful and relaxed. No one wants to leave Savasana!”

Kroc Center’s Vata Aerial Yoga is a class open to all ages, fitness levels, and body types. The sling hangs only a few feet off of the ground and can be adjusted based on the height of the student, which makes it accessible to both beginners and veterans.

The Kroc Center is operating at regular business hours. Due to COVID-19, there are new safety measures implemented for group fitness classes. The Vata Aerial Yoga class size is reduced from 11 to six students to promote social distancing and cleaning protocols have increased. 

Super Woman

A single mom of two teenagers, Kandra describes herself as “a foodie and dark chocolate addict.” In her spare time, she plays the ukulele and enjoys morning walks with her dogs. Kandra teaches Zumba and Aqua Zumba. She recently became certified to teach Fit Kizomba, a dance from Angola combined with fitness components. 

For more information about Vata Aerial Yoga, follow Kandra on Instagram at @kandrakole. To register for a class, visit The class is $8 for non-members.

By Halle Griggs

Photo by Tindall Stephens