When did we all get so serious? I get the importance of achieving goals, challenging yourself and always striving to be your best self. However, I’ve noticed that when you are constantly competing with yourself it takes away the aspect of it all being fun.
Now, let me ask you this next question: When did you last make time to play? Whether it be a hike with no peak to bag, just to be out in nature; or scheduled time to get messy and creative or planned a playdate with friends – just like when your mum would call my mum and set up a date and time for us to get together and just have fun – when was the last time you really let your hair down?
For me, the practice of acro yoga is play time. It’s just fun. It’s a time when two or more people come together to explore what is possible. Acro yoga combines the elements of a yogic practice and the foundations of acrobatics to give you a unique practice that is truly unlike anything else. The practice is challenging at times, and it can bring up insecurities and our own self perceived limitations. For me it brought up the need to always want to be in control, and when you’re standing on someone’s feet, you have to give up all control and trust your base (the person on the bottom in acro yoga) or you’re going to fall. There are times when we try to learn poses or washing machines (sequences) that others have shown us, and there are times when the practice is purely organic and intuitive. We work with what we have and just go with it. At the end of the day this practice brings myself and my community joy!
The beauty of a group practice is that it helps to remove the ego, and instead comes from a place ofwe are, versusI am. In a typical community class, there will be some sort of trust-building exercise to start off. One of the most challenging parts of the practice is this aspect of trust. This was the biggest roadblock I faced with the practice. However, the types of people who are showing up to acro yoga have proved to me time and time again that they are there to support me and I can trust them.
Trust stems from open communication, talking about what isn’t working and what is working and ways we can try to make it easier for everyone involved. As an acro yoga teacher I always want to see students explore new poses with at least one spotter, who becomes and extra set of eyes and ears, and is responsible for keeping everyone in the group safe. In a way, they are there to enhance and elevate your practice to new levels. With this combination of trust, communication and connection, we put into practice the power of nonverbal communication, which we can then integrate into the rest of our lives.
I spoke to Danya (@danyaxenaacroprincess), founder of Fem Power Acro, co-founder of Acro Superhero training, and Superhero circus academy about why she saw the need for the Fem Power Acro movement. Seeing the trend of gender and power dynamics in acro communities all over the world, Danya wanted to celebrate all the amazing women in acro, which led to the creation of Fem Power Acro Yoga festival – an annual Acro Yoga festival which highlights powerful female leaders. Danya knows that acro yoga communities give us space to be our whole selves, and Fem Power Acro acknowledges gender as a spectrum.
“Acro Yoga can be a difficult practice and can trigger negative emotions and reactions,” Dayna told me. “Getting out of our heads and into our bodies is where true connection can take place as we learn to connect beyond words. Coming to a place where we are trying to achieve a common goal, there is space for authentic and true community building.”
Danya’s social media is loaded with inspiration, information and updates about the festival plus teaching trainings, courses and classes, which I highly recommend checking out.
That being said, following acro yoga on social media can be intimidating. Just as popular yogis post advanced poses, acro yogis can post some insane acrobatics that could be featured in a Cirque Du Soleil show. This is great advertising for the practice, but not necessarily what acro yoga is all about. The fact that more and more people are coming to community classes, wanting to support and elevate their new friends to new heights is the true beauty of the practice. We don’t need to be flipping and throwing one another in the air to gain the benefits of the practice. Flying in bird – or airplane style – can be just as exhilarating as a handstand on someone’s head.
One key point I’d like to share is that you are ready just as you are. You don’t need to be stronger, thinner, taller or shorter to start an acro yoga practice. Your teachers will show you that bone energy is easy energy – it just takes some time to apply and integrate it. It’s also common to be able to nail one pose with someone and then find it much harder to figure out with another. I like to think of new partners or groups like driving a new car. When you drive someone else’s car, it takes a while to figure out where exactly all the buttons located, how touchy the brakes are, and how it takes turns. New partnerships are not impossible – they just take some time to drive and calibrate with.
Acro Yoga is starting to become more popular and there are many great teachers all over that are offering classes. Festivals are a great place to get started as it’s a full few days playing and practicing with the same people and some amazing connections are made. The festivals I’d love to check out are Fem Power Acro Yoga Festival, April 6-8th 2018, Vancouver Acro yoga Festival July 13-15th 2018, Unity Acro Yoga Festival August 30th – September 3rd 2018, and Divine Play October 5th – 7th 2018.
I hope to see you there!
Tara Koenig has been teaching yoga for 5 years and currently teaches vinyasa, acro yoga, SUP yoga, and aerial yoga in Banff and Canmore, Alberta. She’s coach and director at the Banff Gymnastics Club, running gymnastics programs for both kids and adults. Her classes focus getting each student to step into their own power, no matter their age or ability. She is a believer in pushing boundaries, using hugs as medicine, and that everyone should go upside down at least once a day. Follow her adventures on Instagram @tarakoenig.