AcroYoga Immersion: Acrobatics, day 1

Greetings from Emeryville California, a little industrial town nestled between Oakland and Berkeley, just across the bay from beautiful San Francisco, home most notably of Pixar, and for five days, my home away from home.

After a couple of days of being a tourist in San Francisco, including a class with the fantastic Stephanie Snyder, and a hang with friend and fellow teacher and Acro devotee Sandy Kalik. I’m here for a few days taking an AcroYoga Immersion.  For those of you not familiar with the term, AcroYoga (we all call it Acro) is a fusion of partner acrobatics (often of the circus variety), partner yoga and Thai Massage.  This workshop focuses on the acrobatics portion partner inversions and the like.  (Here are Jason and Chelsea, aka the Yogaslackers and our assistants this week, showcasing an acrobatic sequence)  I’ll blog as I can about the experience.

I’ve been practicing Acro fairly consistently since in came to Boston three years ago in the form of senior teacher Bonnie Argo, and love the practice.  For me, this trip is both a chance to strengthen and deepen this part of my practice, and to help discern if teaching this form of yoga as a trademarked AcroYoga teacher is in my future.  (more perhaps on this as the week progresses)

Today brought out all the ways I love this practice, and all the ways it kicks my tail.  After a long warm-up class, we went into partner flying as strength training.  (I had a 215 pound man hanging on my legs; no matter what we do, that is strength training.)  We then were matched with a team for the week; the roles in acro are base and flyer- in the video, Jason is the base- and we will stay in teams of two bases and two flyers for the week.  Being a decent-sized guy, I am usually a base, and will be this week.  We spent the rest of the day working various acrobatic drills.  Despite my relatively long acro practice, we were hitting the edge of what I’m very comfortable doing by the middle of the day.  This is going to be one hell of a week.

The good news is that I was capable of more than I thought I would be- I was balancing someone on my hands this afternoon, which surprised me for sure.  (Photos will pop up on Facebook if we get around to taking them)   And as long as I take care of my self, I do get the sense that I could blow my practice open this week.  It’s nice sometimes, when your progress in anything moves at a tangible but slow upwards curve, to be reminded that you are nowhere near what your capable of.

One other observation: I think I can safely say that I’m in the lower-middle of the practice group here, thirty very talented monkeys (Acro’s nickname for its practitioners) from literally all over the world.  Especially in the past couple of years, in Boston there aren’t too many classes I go to where I feel like I’m sprinting to keep up anymore, but here that may well be a regular occurence.  It’s at once humbling, frustrating (I grunted much more than I usually do) and exhilarating.  That whole “zen mind, beginner mind” is not just some New Age BS; because I was far out of my comfort zone, I was completely focused today.  When we were practicing, the world consisted of me, my partner, and the exercise. Which, I’m have to say, is not always how it is in the rest of my life, even in my teaching. It’s important to find, or remember that space, often.

Many thanks to the immersion teachers and the fabulous monkey crew (more about them as the week goes on); I’m excited for tomorrow!

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