Strength and flexibility are first a practice of the mind, then a practice of the body. Confidence, determination, and sensitivity are the elements that must be present before feats of high-level strength and flexibility can be experienced consistently. Physical strength and flexibility can be increased gradually over time. The trick is learning how to channel what you already have. Strength is all about will. Flexibility is a practice of letting go. There is no way to quantify how much will you can have or how much you can let go. Once this infinite potential is realized in the mind, the athlete is ready to train the body. ~Jason Nemer (Founder of AcroYoga)
When I saw that Jason Nemer, Jason Magness, Chelsea Magness, and Lux Sternstein were hosting a 5 day advanced AcroYoga immersion in beautiful costal Oregon I jumped at the opportunity. I saw a video of the prerequisites (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lv_ljaSyxag&index=2&list=FLmjv2_3hJaRTrGFxb9xro1A), and felt proficient at all but one or two skills that I hadn't attempted, but figured I had in the bag. I didn't really read the fine details. What I experienced when I arrived was quite an awakening.
I was surrounded by 40 or so of the most talented AcroYogis I've ever have the pleasure of observing. Two of them live right in my neighborhood and I I'm thrilled to have connected with them! The connections made in the AcroYoga community are strong ones and they spread far and wide like a huge family.
I had the pleasure of getting to know Jason Nemer, a truly inspiring individual who created the practice of AcroYoga with the intent of developing and supporting that very community. During our first conversation I noticed he was wearing a t-shirt that said Soul Rebel and was made by a clothing label that I hold dear to my heart, Spiritual Gangster. I soon discovered that he taught AcroYoga to an individual I have great respect for, Geshe Michael Roach. These common roots and the philosophy Jason shared were enough to convince me that he is a really great teacher and person with pure intentions and vast experience, but when I saw him stand on his hands and shoot a basketball backwards with his feet in the air and a smile on his face, I decided he's the guy I want to learn the practice of individual and partner acrobatics from. I have yet to scratch the surface of what he offers in the realm of therapeutic and Thai massage techniques, but I have set a goal to learn much more.
I also got some really solid advice on slack lining from Jason Magness. I plan to integrate slack lining into my regular practices of Yoga and AcroYoga. So far through his advice and my exploration I have learned that standing or walking on a slackline isn't just a practice of balance, it's a practice of stillness. It requires breath and bandhas and demands that the mind become singularly focused. It's an excellent compliment to Ashtanga.
I was continually inspired by Chelsea Magness's athleticism and seemingly boundless energy. She is also a great teacher who is very articulate in explaining what flyers need to focus on and how bases can help them accomplish what they're attempting.
Lux Sternstein was stellar as usual. Quick-witted and always entertaining, Lux keeps what is very challenging and potentially frustrating training light-hearted and positively oriented. His talent and physical versatility are always inspiring his student to reach for their highest potential.
The friends and partners I was blessed to work and play with lifted me up not just physically, but emotionally as well. I was greatly challenged by many of the skills I learned and had the unpleasant good fortune to bump head first into my ego. I struggled with not feeling "good" enough and struggled even harder to share my self doubt with the friends who surrounded me. They each expressed confidence in my strength and skill. I trusted them with my life to attempt high flying upside down feats of balance and strength. But when it came to expressing my own self-doubt and believing in their confidence in me, I hit a wall. It shined a light on a part of me that I wasn't expecting to look at. I am grateful for their patience with me and all the support they offered.
Seeing these four teachers work and play together and being immersed so intensely in the AcroYoga community really expanded my understanding of the true heart of AcroYoga. I have returned from camp inspired and oriented toward a new goal, certification in AcroYoga. As always, I'll be sharing my skills every Sunday at Swami's Seaside Park in Encinitas. I will also continue teaching a monthly partner yoga workshop at Carlsbad Village Yoga and Fitness. In the short term, I will be joining the AcroYoga organization as a "Jambassador". Hopefully by the end of this September I'll officially be teaching AcroYoga!