It wasn’t long after I had started my yoga journey that I stumbled into an AcroYoga class. I was looking to try new things and there it was on the schedule of the yoga studio I happened to have found. It seems that I had found AcroYoga after a series of random choices, that would end up defining much about my life.
I decided to join my first Yoga class during a turbulent time in my life. My first yoga class was a Hatha Yoga class with 5 other people. I remember how difficult I found it to keep up, everyone there seemed to move with ease, while I struggled to get into the simplest of postures. But with the support of the instructor, and the lack of self-judgement, I was able to complete the class emerging from the other side feeling weirdly calm and serene. So, I was hooked. I kept going every Tuesday at 7:30 pm to the same studio, practicing the same class, with the same instructor. Four weeks later, I started getting interested in other types of Yoga practices that were on the studio’s schedule. The one that seemed most interested was AcroYoga. I never thought of myself as an Acrobat and the idea of being was one actually quite exciting. Little did I know that that one class would lead me down a road that is still unfolding in front of me.
My first AcroYoga class was on a Saturday morning in February or March 2015. Once I got there, five other people were waiting outside the practice room, four of whom seemed to be close friends. Once the instructor of the day showed up, he informed us that he usually co-teaches this class but that his co-teacher is not available today. Co-teaching, what an interesting concept, I thought to myself. I was already excited for next week to see how that dynamic works. Up until then, all classes in any discipline have had one instructor. Soon after the class started, I was suddenly up in the air on a stranger’s feet, I had another stranger up on my hands and feet, and all of a sudden, we were flying while massaging each other. We kept switching groups, “playing” with others in the class. Once the class was done, I realized that I had spent the past hour and a half connecting with complete strangers. Except instead of using words, like I would normally do, we were using our bodies.
After my third class, I realized that I was actually becoming friends with the others in class, and the closely knitted four-person group soon started inviting me to dinners and hang out sessions. That was my first preview to the power of AcroYoga at connecting and bringing people together (and yes, better than Nokia). As I started to attend as many AcroYoga classes, workshops, and events I kept meeting new people, making friends, and having an amazing time. A few months into the practice, I decided that I want to start teaching AcroYoga one day and spread it around as much as I could. I felt like I stumbled upon a magical practice that makes me feel grounded, happy, and connected and I felt that it would be selfish to keep it to myself.
As I continued on my AcroYoga journey I met the most amazing people from all over the world. One specific person stood out. I met her in a regular class in Beirut, and thought she was super cute. We started practicing together during classes, attending workshops together, and even scheduling time to practice at my place. As it turns out, we were both going for a Hatha Yoga teacher training that same year. Soon after, we started dating and co-teaching AcroYoga classes of our own. As our relationship started to develop so did our teaching dynamics, and they both influenced one another greatly. Our ability to communicate in class and in our personal life was getting healthier, more open, and more supportive.
AcroYoga is a collaborative experience both for instructors and for practitioners. Instructors learn to communicate without using words, to help each other during classes, and most importantly lead the class in a safe and inspiring manner. Students learn to have fun, the use physical cues, and most importantly to connect and support whomever they are working with, whether they are practicing with their life partner or a complete stranger. AcroYoga brings people together in a way very few other activities do.
It would be safe to say that I gained my confidence, my self-love, and my communication skills in big part because of my AcroYoga practice and that is what pushed me to spread this practice as much as I could throughout as many communities as I could reach. Everyone deserves to feel as supported, as loved, and as appreciated as I have.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Lea and I have stopped giving classes, sessions, and workshops to our dismay. We absolutely cannot wait to feel connected to and inspired by our students.
If you haven’t had the chance to try AcroYoga yet, I sincerely hope you will find a class, jam, workshop, or event close to you, once it is safe again, and try it out. I guarantee it will change you for the better.
By: Abdul Sattar Ouayda
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) & Yoga!
The Yin Yang class is a beautiful mix of yoga with Chinese medicine. Each class is dedicated to one element of the 5, to better understand the energy of this element in our lives and how to keep it balanced. The class starts off with a small introduction and is divided into two parts: The yang part is the active part of class with a yoga flow specified to warm up & build up heat concentrating on the relative organs and the parts of the body where the meridians (energy lines) are passing. The Yin part is the calm part of class, stretching the body and discovering the acupressure points and how to massage them, allowing the Qi (energy) in your body to move and flow freely. You come out of class feeling the harmony between the two energies, the Yin and the Yang, that work together to keep your system healthy and well-balanced.
Chinese Medicine is a poetic and effective healing modality that follows the rhythms of nature and seasonal progressions. The five interconnected elements of TCM include Earth, Metal, Water, Wood and Fire. Every Element has its attributes and is connected to a season and to two or more organs in the physical body. All of us have the five elements contained within us, when one organ is affected all other organ systems will be affected eventually and you will experience physical and emotional symptoms of imbalance. And so, becoming aware of the root cause of the insult and the underlying symptoms of imbalances will help to treat the issue that has led to disease and disharmony in the first place. It is believed that the psyche and the body work together to keep things balanced and it is an interconnected system where our bodies are a reflection of everything we may be experiencing internally on an emotional/mental level… Take care to the mind to take care of the body and vice versa. I believe that the more aware we are of what goes on internally in the micro level, the better we can understand ourselves and our bodies on a macroscopic level.
The 5 Elements
Season: seasonal transition-the last 18 days of the 4 seasons
Body Organs: Stomach (yang) Spleen (yin)
The Earth element is all about being grounded, connected, feeling safe in our skin. The power of the Earth element allows you to feel abundant and nurtured. Just as we call Earth, Mother Earth, it is in fact a mothering energy that makes us full, safe and complete. We are infinitely abundant and have access to all the nurturing attributes within ourselves. The Earth element is connected to the digestive system; stomach and spleen allowing us to digest life’s happenings and have the ability to find the nurturing elements within each experience. In the emotional realms, the Earth Element is about feeling full and complete, feeling supported, listened to, abundant, rich, and basically grounded and centered. When this element is balanced you are empathetic, you have a calm and stable disposition. You are sweet to people and this makes people want to be close to you as they feel safe around you. You are a patient listener, having this mothering energy, making everyone feel connected. You are a great facilitator, and you give with balance without seeking validation. You worry just enough to keep everything in place. When this element is out of balance, you will feel like there is a void in your life, a sense of insecurity, anxiousness and worry will permeate your life. Emotional eating and any eating disorder would be a great indicator of this element’s imbalance.
. Feeling full, complete and safe
. Well nurtured and nourished
. Appreciate food and its qualities
. Mothering safe energy
. calm and stable disposition
. grounded and centered
. love nurturing yourself and your whole family
Out of Balance (physical & emotional imbalance)
. Smothering attention
. Excessive worrying
. Lack of Sympathy
. Eating disorders
. Weak muscles
. Stomach issues
Healing the Earth Element
The Earth Element can be brought back into balance by embodiment. Coming into the body. Learning how to nourish yourself. Spending time with people that nourish you and make you feel closer to your center.
. Respect and connect with food, appreciate it chew it well
. Gardening, connecting to the earth
. Sitting on the floor, yoga, balancing postures
. Dropping out of your head and into your heart center
. Avoid clutter, clean your spaces
. Self-care, make time each day to take care of yourself and your needs.
Food for Earth
. All sweet and starchy food particularly yellow and orange food
. Slow cooked food
. Orange, brown foods, Root vegetables
. very sweet soft fruits
. natural sweet food: honey, maple, dates
. sweet potato
. sweet apples
. sweet cherries
Body Organs: Lungs (yin) Large intestine (yang)
Metal is related to the late autumn, when all the leaves fall to the earth, shedding the old. The power of the Metal Element allows you to efficiently let go of what is not necessary, and store only what is needed for winter. When Metal is in balance you learn to let go of life's happenings to receive whatever comes new. In Chinese Medicine, both the Lungs and the Large Intestine receive and let go. It is also connected to your immunity, the Lungs receive Oxygen and let go of Co2, while the Large Intestine receives food and lets go of wastes. When this is in harmony, you feel a lightness in your body along with the quality of great integrity. You self-shine like crystals. You remain detached in relationships, and everyone knows where they stand with you. You are correct and fair with everyone. You hold no disorder and conflict in your life; you prefer structure and control. You are typically an expert in your field and seek perfection. You have a good sense of self-preservation and self-worth. If the Metal Element is out of balance, you might be having a hard time with letting go and some causes can be unresolved grief and sadness. Integrity can turn into hypocrisy and fair relationships can become authoritative and punishment based. Structure can turn into rigidity and coldness, as perfection may be seeking to be disappointed. Logic can turn into self-doubt and boundaries can get sharp and unattached. As we know, the mind and the body are intimately related and are not separate so in Chinese Medicine, by treating the Lungs we heal emotional imbalances associated with Metal Element. Likewise, by addressing emotional issues associated with Metal Element, you treat the Lungs. The Yang organ associated with the Metal Element is the Large Intestine and correlations of the inability to 'let go' can be apparent in a bloated belly.
. Ability to let go
. Control and structure
. Correct and fair
. Good immunity system
. Clarity in relationships
Out of Balance (physical & emotional symptoms)
. Bloated belly
. Breathing difficulty
. Sinus Problems
. Lung disease
. Skin Disorder
. Lowered immunity functions
. Grief, unresolved sadness
. low self esteem
. loss of control
. Dogmatic religious beliefs
. Problems with authority
Grief is a normal response to loss. It can be the loss of a home, family pet, job, business, relationship, marriage or a love one.
Grief also comes in waves and has different stages. It is important to go through all the stages, helping the harmony of the internal environment come gently back to its full vitality.
Qi is the bridge between our thoughts-emotions and our physical body. When our emotions are in our body for a long time, they will start to affect the correct function of the organs.
In TCM all emotions are necessary and part of the life cycles. It is how we deal with them and how we tame our mind to be present with them that can really benefit your life. It is necessary to feel sadness and grief. It is necessary to feel and go through life emotions. We just need tools that can serve the process of transforming them and helping our hearts to break through the process to release and keep a positive outlook on life. Everything happens for a reason, and is always in perfect order.
May we always know that life is not happening to us, but life is happening for us.
"Every Loss is a Gain. And every Gain is a Loss". Pujya Swamiji Dayananda
Healing the Metal Element:
. Activities that expand your lungs: yoga, hiking, swimming, cycling
. Crying, releasing tears as a way to cleanse
. Cutting out toxic people, toxic food
. Eating white pungent food
. Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture
. Wearing scarves in autumn
. Drinking water with lemon in the morning for immunity boosting
. Eat according to the season
Food for Metal:
. White Rice
Body Organs: Kidneys (yin) Bladder (yang)
Water Element is all about Depth, Purpose and DNA
Water is related to the winter, and it expresses when we pull back to our hibernation mode, resting, renewing, and regenerating our power back into our body batteries, our kidneys. Water is about storing the essence. It rules birth, development and maturation, as well as will power and drive. It is when we have a drive to create substance in our lives. Depth and substance connect to purpose, and having a sacred why behind every action in your life. The power of the Water Element represents birth, and death. It is the silence that stays when all is quiet and you can see within the treasures of your innermost essence. It relates to your depth and flow. When the Water element is abundant and acting in harmony with the other elements, you’ll feel strong, confident, with a quick wit and an ability to sail through life’s problems with ease and assurance. You go with the flow. Introspection comes easily and thoughts run deep in meaning. This well restedness gives a calm energy that emanates softness and a nice flow around you. Your mind is lucid and you take in knowledge as you observe life, making you wise and well rounded. You are resilient and constant. You have great integrity in knowing when to say yes, and when to say no without compromising yourself. The Water element can become out of balance due to a general decline in Kidney Qi associated with aging or insufficient nourishment of Kidney Qi, due to a poor diet high in chemicals, processed foods, lifestyle factors such as stress, lack of sleep, and imbalances that may occur in one of the other five elements that disrupt the normal energy flow in the body. When the water is out of balance you feel, fearful, timid, absent, sterile, paranoid, and depleted. You will feel difficulty to trust, socialize, and feel confident. You can see it physically in the dark circles under your eyes. The pathological emotions most commonly associated with an imbalance of Water are fear and anxiety. When you feel anxious and your fears rule you, you begin a cycle of fear, tension, and pain that can affect the body. People with weak Water element tend to be very nervous and react in fright to loud noises, shrieking their bodies and nervous system. The Kidneys in TCM store the Essence and consolidate the Qi that governs over our lives from birth to death; it is related to our sexuality and our ability to procreate, physical growth through childhood, and transition into old age. Because the Water Element is central in our ability to reproduce, it makes sense that Kidney Deficiency plays such a central role in infertility and sexual dysfunction in both Men and Women. The Kidney energetic system also includes the functional thyroid, adrenal, pituitary, and hypothalamus glands according to TCM.As we age, our Essence can become more and more depleted which is demonstrated premature aging.
. Calm and soft energy
. Ability to go with the flow
. Observant and witty
. Sharp and wise
. Resilient and constant
Out of Balance (physical & emotional symptoms):
. Fear, phobias
. Panic attacks
. Anxiety Attacks
. Kidney Disease
. Lower back pain
. Shortness of breath
. High blood pressure
. Early signs of aging
. Occipital headaches
. Lack of excitement
. Vaginal dryness, premature ejaculation
. Hearing problems
. Tooth loss
. Greying, thinning and loss of hair
Healing the Water Element:
. Rest, nest, take it slow
. Sleep well to rejuvenate
. Do less
. React softer
. Drink enough of water
. Cultivate inner stillness
. Patience and acceptance to deal with fears
. Eat blue, purple, dark foods
. Yin yoga
Food for Water:
. Black beans
. Sea vegetables
. Soy sauce
. Wild rice
. Black Sesame seeds
. Sunflower, pumpkin seeds
Body Organs: Liver (yin) Gallbladder (yang)
In Chinese Medicine “wood” is of the spring season. It’s all about change, growth, expansion. The wood energy in our lives is similar to a tree, it can either be strong and unyielding like the rigid trunk of an oak tree or rooted and flexible to the winds of change like a bamboo tree. We need both energies, depending on what we are going through in our lives to stay balanced. The Wood Element governs the intuitive and emotional body. When it is nourished and well balanced we bend and yield if it is required, or we stand strong, but when the Wood element is out of balance, we lose control of our emotions and we are subject to fits of rage and anger feeling like everything is going against us... The wood element allows us to burst forth with assertive drive, setting goals, making plans and pursuing them. It is connected to two organs: The Liver, and the Gallbladder; the dreamer, and the decision maker. Liver works on detoxifying our system, also it is what gives us the energy to flow freely, dream ahead, to plant the seeds and foresee the grandest achievements. When liver is nourished with abundant Qi and blood, it is a great positive force throughout a lifetime. Liver nourishes our joints and assures smooth flow of blood and Qi and when we are feeling mentally inflexible same feeling will be translated in our bodies due to lack of liver Qi (energy).
. Great Vision and insight
. Strong drive
. Ability to Plan and take decisions
. Love challenges and enjoy overcoming them
. Compassionate and great caretaker
. Control over emotions
Out of balance (physical and emotional symptoms)
. Easy anger
. Headaches (side lobes)
. High Blood Pressure
. Hormonal Imbalances
. Strong PMS
. Joint pain
. Watering or dry eyes
Healing the Wood Element
. Spring is about clearing your space preparing for the outdoor after a long winter. Tidy up, clear the things you don’t need.
. Avoiding all processed food, high fat foods, refined flours and sugar, denatured foods.
(these foods restrict the free flow of Qi and blood and affect the proper function of the Wood element.)
. Eat Greens! Hydrate every morning with warm water and a ¼ lemon squeeze
. Having an established workout routine and sticking to it will allow you to feel good especially that doing so will make you feel less frustrated about your plans and abandoning them. Find what works for you.
(yoga, stretching, walking, cycling)
. Release your anger through workouts, shout during if you need to.
Food for Wood: (Sour and green food)
. Young plants, fresh greens, sprouts, basil, fennel, rosemary
. Whole Grains (especially Rye)
. Romaine Lettuce
. Citrus peel
. High Quality Vinegars (apple cider)
Body Organs: Heart (yin) Small intestine (yang)
The fire element is the element of Love and all affairs of the heart. In TCM the fire of the heart represents our relationship with ourselves and with others. It governs our ability to share love, warmth and joy with our connections. The fire element is the spark of life that allows us to feel loving and inspired in what we do. When the sun is the highest in the sky, we are invited to celebrate the same energy of warmth and guiding light inside of ourselves. It represents our inner child and the fullness of life. The virtues of the fire element resemble a summer campfire where everyone is gathered around it, singing, laughing connecting, it is all about fun, charisma, play, communication and love.
The fire can get out of balance by becoming too much fire that ends up burning out the people around it and some causes of fire imbalance can include a tremendous emotional sorrow or a sudden powerful emotional shock: Fun seeking becomes overstimulation, humor can become inappropriate, we become easily insulted, craving center of attention, over flirtation, lack of personal boundaries. Or in the opposite, too little fire: a loss of spark, becoming isolated, cold and dull. We need enough fire in our lives to be able to see projects come to full potential, if we are unable to bring an effort to fruition, it is likely due an insufficiency of Fire’s potential for fulfillment, this would result in an accumulation of unfinished craft or building projects.
Because of the heart’s great importance in our mental and physical wellbeing, it is the only organ assigned with an organ specifically empowered to protect it. The Pericardium, or heart protector works as a doorway to distribute emotions before they touch the heart. It opens to allow love in and closes to protect the heart from emotional insults. Someone who takes things to heart and is easily insulted, is likely to have a weak or imbalanced Pericardium. The heart houses the “Shen”, and enfolds the spirit in Chinese medicine.
. Ability to give and receive love
. Communicate easily
. Joy, play, fun, freedom, fullness of life
. Great sense of humor
. Life of the party
. Spark in the eyes
. Trusting life
. Optimistic, generous
. Magnetism, Charisma
. Healthy rosy Complexion
Out of balance (physical & emotional symptoms):
. Hot-Flashes, skin eruptions
. Heart palpitations
. Heart Disease
. Rapid or Irregular heartbeat
. Tongue sores
. Poor Memory
. Vivid or disturbing dreams
. Inability to love
. Lack of trust
. Lack of emotional warmth
. Sexual overstimulation
. Lack of spark
. Loneliness, Isolation, flatness
. Dissatisfaction with intimate relationships
. Excessive vulnerability, constant heartache
. Laughing inappropriately
. Too loud
. Craving mind altering substances
. Emotionally Hot/Cold
Healing the Fire Element:
. Connecting to the inner child and do things that make you happy
. Acroyoga, fun activities, Thai massage, acupuncture.
. Understand the states of love and happiness (the 4 human pursuits by Bhagavad Gita)
. Like a child be happy for no reason
. Food that is Red and hot
Food for Fire:
. Red and hot peppers
. Red Fruits
. Coffee (moderately)
. Dark Chocolate
. Black pepper
. Whole Wheat
. Brown Rice