Photo by Melanie Hoeld Photography

 

by Heather Osbourne

“Have you ever flown before?” Aaron Lind asked.

“Once,” I replied bewildered.

“Then come fly with us!” he invited.

Cautiously I stepped into the AcroYoga couple’s home, which doubles as an “Acro B&B,” a bed and breakfast service complete with AcroYoga training and bonding with the hosts at their bungalow. Wearing high heel shoes with a pen and notepad in tow, I never expected my interview on the AcroYoga community to become my own private Acro crash course. Every plank variation and back bird pose I completed with Lind not only connected my mind and body in a way I never experienced, but simultaneously connected me with those who are making this physical, and sometimes intimate, partner activity a lifestyle.

Lind and Christine Moonbeam, partners in both Acro and life, are two individuals paving the way for a new generation of AcroYoga enthusiasts. Through their business Lift School of Acrobatics based out of New Orleans, the duo travels constantly teaching AcroYoga throughout the U.S. and abroad, including recently teaching a sold-out weekend in Orlando and also a cross-content Acro session in Bangkok, Thailand.

“AcroYoga is a practice that is best approached as play and as fun,” said Lind, who studied in California with AcroYoga International co-founders Jason Nemer and Jenny Sauer-Klein. “Doing something for its own sake. You don’t do Acro for any other reason but to have fun or grow a social connection.

Photo bybarefootyoga.me

“Stepping into an Acro practice, there is a mindful element for sure,” he continued. “There is a communication element that needs to be yogic, meaning I want to feel what my partner is feeling and speak to them in a way where they are met. Yoga, in one of its most famous definitions, means connection. Understanding that we’re all connected through what I do with myself, or what I do externally to myself, has repercussions whether that’s good or bad. In that sense, partner acrobatics can very much be yoga.”

AcroYoga usually involves three individuals – the base, the flyer and the spotter. The base is normally lying on their back lifting the flyer in the air to perform the pose, and the spotter is making sure the move is executed safely. Lind said in his classes, he and Moonbeam move at a slow pace to promote technique and avoid injury. Individuals interested in participating in Lind and Moonbeam’s Fundamentals Emersion or Fundamentals Weekend Intensive can expect to pay around $200 for an entire weekend of events.

“Fundamentals Emersion or a Fundamentals Weekend Intensive, it’s really for everyone, and we want to meet them at a level where we are their first handshake,” Lind said. “For people who invite us for more intermediate or advanced material, we have a set of prerequisites that say, if you can do this set of 22 skills on our video, you can come to our intermediate emersion and have a really good experience. If you can’t do those things yet, you should work with us or a qualified teacher who can get you through those things and move you forward where it’s safe.”

In addition to their business and hosting individuals through the “AcroB&B” service, the couple also trains once a year in Holland with acrobats Niko Douwes and Fons Bennick. Since being introduced to AcroYoga in 2009, Lind currently possesses 16,000 hours of teaching and 1,200 hours of Acro education.

“I connected with this culture in Holland, which is really where all of this recreational acrobatics came from,” Lind explained. “A couple of circus guys in the ’30s or ’40s left the circus to start teaching classes for recreational people. The AcroYoga culture picked up on that and took it from the traditions in Holland. These guys we train with are in their 60s and 70s and are just incredible. You look at them, and you wouldn’t think they are these amazing acrobats who can do the most high-level movements in the world.”

In 2006, AcroYoga International was the first to “codify the AcroYoga practice” and form instructor education and AcroYoga literature. Now, taught in hundreds of countries around the globe with celebrities often promoting the practice through social media, the Acro community has grown exponentially.

“We teach quite a lot at festivals and in other Acro communities,” Lind said. “I’ve personally trained all 11 Acro teachers in New Orleans and now, through Lift School of Acrobatics, we offer teacher training that’s a 200-hour course. I’ve taught at Butterfly Yoga in Jackson and am friends with Rebecca Sathre from URU Yoga and Lee Guilbeau from Purusa Yoga in Baton Rouge. We’re all a community.”

Since walking out of the AcroB&B that day, I meditate on my time there often and dream of the next time I’ll fly again. The experience taught me not only to take risks, trust others and challenge my body, but also to have fun and not take myself too seriously. If you’re an adventure seeker looking for a new experience, I encourage you to stretch out your arms and “fly.”

Try it for Yourself

Get your flex on at one of these AcroYoga studios.

Photo by Eric Ward Photography

Lift School of Acrobatics, New Orleans.

Instructors: Aaron Lind & Christine Moonbeam

Price: Approximately $200 per weekend

“Yoga in one of its most famous definitions means connection. Understanding that we’re all connected through what I do with myself, or what I do externally to myself, has repercussions whether that’s good or bad. In that sense, partner acrobatics can very much be yoga.”

Purusa Yoga, Baton Rouge

Instructor: Lee Guilbeau

Price: Drop-in is $15 per class and student rates are $12.

“There are many different purposes of AcroYoga to many different people,” Guilbeau said. “My first exposure to it was 50/50 therapeutics and acrobatics. When learning it, I appreciated that there was a well-rounded holistic aspect to it. This spring I’m opening up a climbing gym featuring Acro classes and aerial arts. You can see the progress at uptownclimbing.com.”

URU Yoga and Beyond, Pensacola

Instructor: Rebecca Sathre

Price: $7 per class for students and $10 for walk-ins

“We started offering AcroYoga when we opened three years ago,” Sathre said. “We only offer private sessions right now, but we also offer workshops and a jam every week, so we just have one class and one jam a week. We teach beginner and intermediate. URU is a very open, fun  and un-intimidating place to come. We do AcroYoga because it’s a great thing for the community and an opportunity to meet people and learn to work well with others.”

Steadfast and True Yoga, Nashville

Instructor: Gillian St. Clair

Price: $45 for a single session and $220 for a full weekend

“People need to play and have fun more often,” St. Clair said. “They need to be lifted up and to be hugged. Acro is a group activity; it can’t be done alone, which is why it’s so great. Watching people do something they never thought they could do before is truly magical. Be it flying on someone, or lifting another person up, it always blows their minds how strong and graceful they can be. Steadfast was created to be a place where you are safe and supported in your yoga or AcroYoga journey.”

Butterfly Yoga, Jackson

Instructor: Scotta Brady

“Our Acro community has fallen apart,” Brady said. “We had a core group of four people and that was easy to get others interested and playing with us. Two of them have moved away and one got injured and hasn’t picked back up yet with the yoga and Acro. We need help getting our community back on track.”

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