This week's location is Swami's beach, in Encinitas, California. Music by Kate Earl, Lupe Fiasco, Melanie Fiona, and G Love and Special Sauce.
Acro Yoga is a relatively new love of mine. A true Ashtangi, through and through, I thrive on the discipline and quiet strength I find on my mat. But when I'm off the mat... well, let's just say... I like to fly.
I met my Acro Yoga teacher/partner at Bhakti Fest 2012. Always a warm, encouraging, safe, and enthusiastic teacher, Tim Moylan convinced me to set a little discipline aside and try something new. What I have discovered in my Acro Yoga practice is just as valuable as what I've learned in Ashtanga, and it definitely requires lots of limbs! While Ashtanga has opened a doorway through which I may examine mySelf, Acro Yoga asks me to study how I interact with others.
To be "successful" in Acro Yoga, I am asked to understand verbal instructions and physical cues while my equilibrium is turned upside down. I am asked to trust the human foundation beneath me. I am asked to find and let shine my own power, balance and grace. I am lifted. I am supported. Then I am reminded to smile. Acro Yoga is trust, communication, union, and liberation. It is also breath and strength and flexibility.
Now the fine print! I do not recommend that anyone and everyone run right out and practice Acro Yoga. My Ashtanga practice has given me the strength, flexibility, and proper alignment to practice Acro Yoga safely. I also learned from a certified Acro Yoga teacher. I truly believe that it's a very therapeutic complimentary practice to Ashtanga. Just make sure you begin with a strong yoga foundation and a knowledgeable, experienced teacher!
Here are some recent clips from my practice with Tim Moylan at Esalen:
I just had an amazing yoga class with Emily Horning! It left me feeling so inspired that I decided to create a new format to my blogging. I think I’ll start writing class reviews! Studios get reviewed all the time. Why not individual classes? Who hasn’t gone to a studio’s website and read a teacher bio to try to figure out what kind of class they teach. Often, bios are helpful, but not a great indicator of what each teacher’s class will really feel like. And if you have a yoga budget, taking a class from a new teacher can feel a little risky. Perhaps class reviews will help bring teachers new students, and help students to expand their practice without the hesitation that comes from that risky feeling. So without further ado… my humble opinion follows.
My teacher, John Salisbury says, Astanga is like school, and Vinyasa flow is like recess. I have been neglecting my recess; believing that through more discipline, I would become a better student of yoga. After an especially moving class with Emily Horning, I think I’ve developed a refined analogy to describe the difference between Vinyasa flow and Astanga yoga. Astanga is science, Vinyasa flow is poetry. Both are a study, but each challenges a different hemisphere of the brain. One stimulates creativity; the other builds a strong foundation to support the flow of creativity. Together they blend into balance.
Tonight I worked tremendously hard physically, while still flowing freely to beautiful music (Omg, mantra AND G Love in the same playlist!! I'm impressed!!)! It was the perfect blend of Astanga's strengthening characteristics and Vinyasa's fluid movement, with the added benefit of gentle reminders to breathe deeply and listen to my body. Did I mention the heavenly adjustments?
Emily embodies grace in her demonstrations and timing, and yet makes her students feel comfortable taking pose variations that feel best for them. She keeps students in each posture long enough to actually feel the benefits of the pose at work. Her sequencing and transitions are designed to really teach. As the class unfolds, you can see that she’s not randomly throwing out poses, she has given lots of thought as to why each pose should come in the order it’s given. The student learns how it feels to unfurl the body, one group of muscles at a time.
I think disciplined practitioners seek out an Astanga asana practice because it’s so instructive and really concentrated in improving the student’s strength and flexibility through practicing an exact science. If they stick around for a while, they start to learn about tradition and the eight limbs of Astanga. If you’re still around and loving the intensity of Astanga, Vinyasa flow starts to appear obsolete- it’s an asana practice only. Little bits of wisdom and cheer crammed between poses are no substitute for instruction of the Yoga Sutras. And, sorry flow junkies, we Astangis are a strong bunch. Most of your flow classes feel like a breeze. Yes, that’s a pretty bold challenge to many flow teachers… Encourage us work to our fullest potential please!
Emily has set the bar, teaching a class that is intense like Astanga, but fluid like Vinyasa flow. What a combination! Oh- and don’t be surprised if you feel challenged all the way through savasana. Emily is one of very few teachers who aren’t afraid to hold the space for a long, silent savasana. And when your work is done, you are rewarded with Om in the rounds, a beautiful sound worth all of the effort it took to get there.
Where can you take Emily's class? Visit her website at www.emilyhorning.com to find out!
So there you have my first yoga class review. Let me offer a small disclaimer here. I am no master of yoga. I don’t have any special credentials (other than maybe my yoga teaching certificate) that qualify me to claim that any one class is better than another. I am offering my personal experience and opinions in the hope that it will benefit my readers and the teachers that move me to write about their classes. I should also note that I believe if you don’t have anything nice to say, you should say nothing at all. So there will be no bad reviews posted here, only great classes will make it to my blog. I would also like to welcome your input. Please feel free to add your two cents or suggest classes that deserve a review. Together we can give back to the teachers that give so much to us.
Much Love and Light!