Where do you teach?: Balance Yoga & Wellness and Swan River Yoga
What type of yoga do you teach?: AcroYoga and Anusara Inspired
Aaron began yoga when he was only eighteen years old, with the intention of learning fun poses and to help him enjoy his study of music. He thought there might be something in yoga that could support a positive and joyful expression of his musical talents. Aaron began studying Hatha yoga and as he delved deeper into his study of Anusara yoga he encountered the healing potential of AcroYoga. Since then he has become the only certified AcroYoga teacher in the South, continues to teach Anusara-Inspired classes, and has his own kirtan band, Pratibha Kirtan.
It was a Jazz Studies program that brought you to New Orleans from Boise, Idaho in 2002. You have managed to fuse your study of music into your yoga practice by forming a kirtan group and you’ve also merged your gymnastics background with your yoga practice and become certified in AcroYoga. Do you feel that this rich fusion would have occurred if you had studied music somewhere other than New Orleans? I’m not sure what would have happened had I chosen somewhere else, but I am incredibly grateful for all of the opportunities that have arisen for me in New Orleans. The culture here is so fertile, it really encourages freedom and expressing what you love about life through your art. Everyone is some kind of artist here! I consider it a great blessing that I have been able to bring so many of my interests and passions under the heading of yoga.
For our readers who aren’t familiar with AcroYoga, can you describe how this combination of yoga, Thai massage, and acrobatics is taught in a group setting and how they can get involved? There are two main formats of AcroYoga, lunar and solar. The lunar practice is about metta-sharing loving kindness. Students learn healing Thai bodywork that translates to a deeper understanding of the body for therapeutic flying. This leads to awareness and sensitivity in partnership. The solar side of the practice is about developing confidence, skill, strength, and partnership skills. Students learn how to base, fly, and spot acrobatic poses and transitions. It is fun, beautiful to watch, and an excellent way to get physically fit. Both lunar and solar sides of the practice emphasize skillful communication techniques that help students to build partnerships grounded in trust and mutual supportiveness.
Right now the AcroYoga Acrobatics class is held on Wednesdays from 7:15-8:45pm at Swan River Yoga Mandir in Mid City. I also have a workshop series in June for beginners. It will be the first three Thursdays, June 7th, 14th, and 21st at Swan River Mandir. Yoga Lagniappe followers get a discounted price of $55 if you sign up by June 4th using the code “lagniappe”.
I also have a workshop coming up I’m really excited about. My teaching partner Cathy Arce, from Mexico, is coming to co-teach with me. That will be June 8-10th at Swan River Mandir. YL readers get a discount for that one too! Use the code “workshop lagniappe” and pay only $150 for the whole weekend when you register by June 4th.
My dear friend and longtime acro student Joe Stein teaches a class called Symbiotic Yoga at Swan River, Sundays 1-2:30pm, that is also a great way to get started. He teaches foundational level acrobatics and therapeutic flying and is an incredibly talented massage therapist as well.
I also teach private lessons and am happy to visit students studios, homes, or businesses to share this practice.
You mentioned that the ideal way to begin AcroYoga is through a beginner’s series. Are there any other limitations to practicing AcroYoga, such as height, weight, or lack of a gymnastics background that students should consider? AcroYoga really can be for everyone. The healing side of the practice creates a senstivity that translates into gentleness and understanding in acrobatics. Students of all sizes learn how to work with their bodies to create stability and ease is poses. Just like any skill you can learn, it is good to start at a basic level and progress at a speed that is natural for you. Students learn to embody precise alignment and bone-stacking techniques that lead to ease in the poses.
I encourage students to attend at least one basics series to get the foundations in their bodies and build strength before attempting more challenging poses and transitions. Would you try to play Mozart before learning the names of the notes on the piano?
You said that practicing yoga in New Orleans is about community and positive communication. Can you elaborate on how you bring those elements into your classes? Thank you for asking! AcroYoga is a practice of building and fostering healthy relationships that lead to a strong community. As teachers we are trained in the art of partner feedback and how to share this art in classes. The students learn to communicate what is good, what is working, and what they appreciate about themselves and each other. Then they learn how to identify what they could improve in their own performance of a skill, followed by how to ask for more support (very specifically in non-blaming or accusatory ways). It is this type of communication that is really a hallmark of AcroYoga. There is no worse buzzkill than a partner who is always blaming you for a skill not working. When partners work together and communicate well, learning and growth is rapid. I have seen several students progress rapidly and joyfully with this kind of conversation.
What do you hope students leave your classes with? I hope students leave with a more empowered sense of their own goodness and worth, new friendships, and an ever evolving set of skills that they can play with. Many of the current students meet outside of class to practice and perform, which gives me no end of joy.