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Yoga trapeze is now available in Peoria: What you can expect

A trapeze class is held at Yogi Janie Trapeze studio located inside Yoga Projekt's courtyard level studio in Heritage Square
Janie Banks
A trapeze class is held at the Yogi Janie Trapeze studio located inside Yoga Projekt's courtyard-level studio in Heritage Square.

A Morton native has decided to use her eight years of yoga expertise to bring a new form of the practice to the Peoria area.

Janie Banks, better known in the community as Yogi Janie, opened her yoga trapeze studio last month inside Yoga Projekt's courtyard-level studio in Heritage Square. Yoga Projekt is owned by Betsy Criss, and the pair decided to team up for this new venture after both expressed a need to expand.

“We are two separate businesses,” explained Banks. “Yogi Janie Trapeze is separate from Yoga Projekt, but my space operates within Yoga Projekt. So while I'm not hanging trapezes in her back studio space on the courtyard level of Heritage Square, she has her non-heated yoga classes,” she said.

Yoga Projekt offers a variety of hot-based yoga and pilates classes, in addition to kettlebell, core cardio, traditional yoga flows, and more. Banks said the yoga community in Peoria is top notch, and while there are amazing studios, teachers, and classes in the area, she was looking to expand in a way that wasn’t just opening up another studio.

“I felt like it was a great middle ground,” said Banks. “So it's for people who are not tired of their yoga practice, but looking for something a little bit different. And then also people who maybe work out in the gym a lot and are looking for a little bit more strength and mobility, but they want that excitement or that empowerment that they feel in the gym, or that big pump. You can get that with a trapeze,” she said.

 Janie Banks, better known as Yogi Janie, has been teaching yoga for eight years
Jody Holtz
Janie Banks, better known as Yogi Janie, has been teaching yoga for eight years

Two years into her yoga teaching journey, Banks acquired her yoga trapeze certification in the place the practice originated — Barcelona, Spain. After she moved back to Morton, she began teaching at Soulside Healing Arts, but never let go of her trapeze dream.

“I was really waiting to kind of gain some traction and know that I wanted to be here for a little bit and gain like a following so I knew that people would be excited about this, and that's how the trapeze started,” said Banks.

When it comes to trapeze yoga, Banks said the practice often gets confused with aerial yoga, which she notes are two different practices.

“It allows these passive back bends and support whereas aerial yoga is something that you wrap yourself in silks. These aren't silks, we're not working with silks. It's more like…the hammock material. And so in aerial yoga, you wrap yourself up and then release. But with trapeze yoga, it's something that you can easily get in and get out of, and it's a lot more accessible, and I think a quicker, more flowy practice similar to yoga,” Banks explained.

She noted while trapeze yoga itself gained a lot of popularity back in 2018, slings, inversions, and ropes have been in yoga for centuries.

“For people who don't know about trapeze, it is something that you can get upside down in and play in and also gain a really strong practice,” said Banks.

There also are many health benefits associated with the practice, according to Banks.

“The most common one that we know of, or that people like to say, is that it helps with their back relief because it is a version of inversion therapy, and it can create traction on your spine,” said Banks. “It can help some sciatica problems. So if you have a little bit of a twinge of sciatica, come in and let's work on it. If you have deep, deep sciatica, it's not going to be a cure-all, but it may help,” she said.

 Participants hang from the ceiling in trapezes inside the studio
Janie Banks
Participants hang from the ceiling in trapezes inside the studio

Other benefits include increased core strength, wrist mobility, deepened back bends, and helping overall with functional upper body movement. While Banks doesn’t recommend trapeze yoga as a practice to engage in all day every day, she said it’s a great supplemental practice to work into an already existing routine of movement. It also provides a range of motion not typically found within a more traditional mat practice.

“We love a regular mat practice, please keep doing your mat practice,” said Banks. “And the trapeze offers a pull motion, which you're missing in regular mat classes. It can help with your posterior chain to build it. The whole back part of your body is missing that hanging and pulling motion that you don't get in a regular mat class, so it offers that extra support and mobility,” she said.

Trapeze yoga is suitable for all ages, body types, and backgrounds. Banks said the only people who it wouldn’t be appropriate for are people who are over 400 pounds due to a weight limit, and pregnant people. She said anyone can, and is welcome, to come in and get upside down.

 Gary Watson hanging from a trapeze
Janie Banks
Gary Watson hangs from a trapeze

“We have a lot of beginner classes going on right now, like every single class is made for beginners because it's such a new thing. So anyone can come, I would say to have some awareness of your body, and to have a little bit of mobility or strength, just that you are someone who already moves your body,” Banks said.

Gary Watson of Morton started taking yoga classes eight years ago after he retired to continue staying healthy as he grew older. After attending a yoga trapeze class with Banks after his daughter signed him up, he said he will definitely be back for more.

“I was nervous about using the trapeze, but it was really not that difficult to use,” said Watson. “Janie is a great instructor and made everyone feel comfortable with the trapeze by slowly acclimating the class in how to safely use it…going inverted was the best part and not as difficult as I thought! It felt great,” he said.

Another person who felt a bit intimidated by the practice at first is Haley Tenney.

 Haley Tenney lives in Peoria Heights and was eager to support a new small business
Haley Tenney
Haley Tenney lives in Peoria Heights and was eager to support a new small business

“I am not a stick and definitely don’t have gymnast muscles, so I didn’t think I’d be any good,” Tenney noted. “I may have looked a little silly getting into the trapeze the first time, but quickly became comfortable flipping upside down, and now that’s my favorite part of class,” she said.

The biggest thing Tenney wants people to understand about trapeze yoga is that it is for all body types.

“You aren’t immediately going upside down, and the time spent in the trapeze is really calming. It’s like being in your own personal butterfly cocoon. It’s comforting and supportive in a way that’s different but equally as nourishing as regular yoga,” Tenney explained.

Yogi Janie Trapeze has been open for a little under two months. Banks said the amount of support she has received from the community thus far makes her emotional.

“I feel so grateful…it feels very affirming to have the support that we have. And with any yoga studio, everyone knows I'm not gonna you know, sugarcoat it, there are some days where, you know, four people sign up. And there's some days where we have eight people on the wait list. Within this industry, you can't bet that there's going to be a full class every single time. But we're pretty full every single time, which is fantastic. And it's something new and exciting for people to do,” said Banks.

For those looking to connect with Banks, she recommends finding her on social media under Yogi Janie. Those looking to view class options, sign up for a class, or learn more about the practice can go here.

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Jody Holtz is WCBU's assistant program director, host of WCBU's newsmagazine All Things Peoria and producer of WCBU’s arts and culture podcast Out and About.