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