Aside from trailer-ing, Nik and I are acroyoga teachers. At the moment we’re just starting out. Our certification class starts in two weeks (XD!) and we’re SUPER PSYCHED. One of the things that we’re doing in the mean time is helping lead classes and jams here in Iowa while we’re still putting together everything that we need for living on the road.
We’re currently hanging out in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and we’re fortunate enough to have some wonderful yoga and aerial connections here. So we were asked to help teach an intro level acroyoga class on the 10th with two of this area’s wonderful acroyogis: Ally Thompson and Daniel Tardy. Ally is also a fantastic yoga instructor who teaches at Heat Yoga in town and got the whole thing setup at the lovely Indian Creek Nature Center with the help of the lovely Lindsey Flannery who works at the Nature Center.
Cool thing to note: this building is one of only about 10 commercial buildings in the nation that is completely green. Powered by solar, temperature regulated with geothermal energy, water pumped onsite, and built from all locally sourced materials. If need be, this building can go completely off the grid lickity split. It is a beautiful facility and aptly dubbed an Amazing Space.
Inside the building, everything is just gorgeous (if you’re into the rustic, natural look). They had a nice big auditorium for us to use and, even though it was pretty clear that under the carpet the floors were cement, it worked out swimmingly. There was plenty of space and despite the stormy weather of the day and the intermittent downpours, the acro class had a really nice turn out.
Acro is a lot about body awareness, balance, and trust. It’s also incredibly fun and connecting and interactive, but it can be a little bit scary. If you’ve never been upside down before – let alone upside down and relying on someone else to make sure you don’t fall over – it’s a nerve wracking to say the least.
One thing that Nik and I like to do when we’re teaching is try to make sure that there are lots of different progressions available to practice. Everyone is always at relatively different levels of flexibility and strength in a beginner class. Some people are fearless, while others are considerably more timid or insecure; and both are totally okay! It doesn’t matter how high you can go or how much you can bend – it isn’t a competition. It’s about doing what you can do, doing what you’re comfortable doing, and having fun. It doesn’t matter what level anyone else is at, it matters what level *you* are at.
That’s the other wonderful thing about acro: it helps teach good communication. Consent, consent, consent. A good rule of thumb is that if you or your partner isn’t giving an enthusiastic YES – that means not a “No”, not a “Maybe”, not a “Sure, I guess”, not even a “…yes…”but an actual “Yes!”: either don’t do it, or try something else. Ask your partner if what’s happening is okay.
No one wants to get hurt, and no one wants to hurt you – communicating with your partner and the other people around you is the best way to do that. People can only help you if you let them know you need help.
For those who don’t want to try everything, we are able to start with a lot more fundamental moves. Don’t want to do Star? That’s okay! We can practice Candle Stick or headstands to get used to going upside down. Mastered Star? Cool! Let’s work on range of motion and transitions. There’s always a next step – we want to make sure that you’re at the step that you’re comfortable with and that you feel good about before trying the next thing up.
One of the nice things about the class too, was that we had just enough experienced teachers able to help out that we could have one in each group – which tends to be super helpful for coaching and making sure there are always spotters.
By the way: OMG SPOTTERS. Spotters are suuuuuuuper important. The easiest way to get hurt is to not have a spotter helping. True, you don’t always need a spotter, but they’re always nice to have. And they’re really important for intro classes. Teaching spotting is one of the most important things we do in classes, too. One of the things that we see really often is people “spotting” from two feet away. Are you spotting or are you spectating? Get up in there! You can’t catch someone if you’re standing back just picking your nose. If you don’t think you can do a good job as a spotter, say so! If you want to help, know you can help, but aren’t sure how; just make sure their head doesn’t hit the ground – spot their head and shoulders. So, yeah: spotting is just as important to know how to do correctly as any of the moves that you can do, so don’t be discouraged to learn it – you can literally save somebody’s life.
Anyhoo – in conclusion, it was a lovely class! And we’ll have to try to get more pictures next time. Thank you so much to all of the wonderful folks who attended!! If you want to know more about upcoming classes and jams in the Cedar Rapids Iowa area, check out their Facebook Group: AcroYogaCR.