Ten years ago Sarah Rehman self-medicated with drugs in what amounted to be a futile attempt to battle the lingering effects of PTSD. Her efforts were a short lived solution for dealing with daily panic attacks that plagued her life. In the journey that preceded her recovery, Rehman turned to yoga, which she was first introduced to by a basketball coach in high school. Eventually, after incorporating the exercise into her routine, the ancient practice helped her get back on track. “It was a big part of my life,” she says. “I had this fire lit under me.”
As she sought to deepen her relationship with yoga, Rehman attended a slew of programs and retreats, gathering invaluable experience along the way. “I would work, make enough money and then go to trainings all over the country,” she says. An aerial yoga workshop in her early 20s set Rehman on a path to her eventual instructor certification. When she looked for opportunities to teach the niche practice in the DMV, Rehman immediately recognized a dearth of options.”There was nowhere you could do it everyday and I wanted to practice everyday,” she explains.
A mere interest gradually expanded to a more serious endeavor and with the encouragement of her entrepreneurial husband, Rehman transformed the basement of her home in Potomac into an aerial yoga studio called Flying Buddha. Seven months into its opening, Rehman found out she was pregnant with her daughter Eliza. Unwilling to let the news slow her down, she got the OK from her doctor and continued teaching classes and growing her business. “I was teaching 14 classes a week up until I was 40 weeks pregnant,” she recalls. In addition to leaving her feeling strong, the experience also forced Rehman to delegate pieces of the business ahead of Eliza’s birth. She accomplished this by hosting teacher trainings for interested members of the blossoming community.
Rehman remembers washing baby bottles in the kitchen and waving to friends as they arrived for their classes. “It became very comfortable and it started to build a really strong community,” she says, also recalling the joy of hearing supportive cheers from downstairs while she nursed her daughter.
Last year, in response to growing popularity, Rehman opened a commercial space in Gaithersburg rigged with professionally hung hammocks, a steel-backed rope wall and exercise poles. Rehman calls it “a total adult playground.” Though the pandemic has restrained class sizes, the studio has found success livestreaming classes and welcoming new clients from across the country.
The 30 year-old Potomac resident felt particularly drawn to aerial yoga because of the creativity and challenges it presented to her mentally and physically. In addition to traditional body work, hanging off tethered hammocks improves core strength, builds mindfulness and instills a sense of trust between what your mind thinks you’re capable of and your body’s actual abilities. "It puts your practice on steroids," Rehman explains of the nimble activity.
Beyond her actual business success, Rehman is proud of the community of women she has fostered, noting that shape, size and age don’t matter. “We have all these women who are incredibly strong and have been through all kinds of situations, but are super supportive regardless,” she says.
Rehman is proud to report that she hasn’t had a panic attack in 10 years and neck problems that previously bothered her have gone away completely. As for the allure that draws others to aerial yoga, Rehman says "A lot of times I feel like people need permission to play … we give them permission.”
Sarah Rehman, 30
Aerial Yoga Instructor & Studio Owner
814 W Diamond Ave Suite 100
Gaithersburg, MD 20878
One month of unlimited classes online $85