Today began with learning a complex and long performance flow created by by Eugene and Jessie. Layer upon layer upon layer of seamless dynamic moves and intricate weaving of acro yoga techniques with a dance and yogic flair. Sutble, fierce, challenging but oh so beautiful. I partnered up with the beautiful and talented Laurence … so competent in fact that she was equally skilled as both flyer and base. Working with me (an inexperienced acro flyer) is an incredible challenge as it is … but Laurence was patient, kind and solid as a base. Although I have dabbled as a base the past four days, I am nowhere close to providing the necessary caliber of stability needed to safely hoist people through such maneuvers as ‘Star’, ‘Around the World’, ‘Ninja Star’, etc. The trick to getting to this level is practice, practice, practice. Wish I had someone more my weight and height to play and experiment with on a regular basis. The afternoon revealed a mini-workshop with Jason Nemer of acroyoga.org on the basics of successful handstands. Again, lack of mobility and strength in my shoulders left me wanting for more …. I’m learning that both daily core and shoulder strengthening and building is becoming necessary in this lifestyle of more advanced acro yoga (or what we call yogaFLIGHT). Time to redirect my focus.
The ending of our weekend climaxed with a boy vs girl Creative Process. With a quick 30 minutes to prepare our staged act, we stepped in to ‘the Cypher’ and rocked our performances with giggles and fire … the penultimate throwdown before an informal acro-jam. Personally, I was hoping for more flow practice after the throwdown with Eugene and Jessie. But as with all endings and beginnings, the flow of their structure is what I make of the time and interaction within the context. So perhaps I was expecting more of myself. However, feeling somewhat reticent with my new-found knowledge and skills, I sat back shyly whilst the more experienced acro-yogis soared through delicious flows and experimental flights in their acro-jam. Sometimes just watching can be enough. I am however yearning a deeper connection with an acro community. Time to investigate the Toronto scene whilst we’re in the area for a few months!
The evening was spent cooking and dining with our hosts at ‘Chateau Yogi’. Paul and Bryce had the perfect kitchen and patio space to enjoy a twilight potluck of personalities and stories. Of course, I enjoyed finding the beauty in photographing shadows, light, people and textures.
Morning review, B-girl afternoon. I thoroughly enjoyed the morning review. The past two days have literally flown by, with so much to remember through each flow sequence, let alone a whole day of advanced learning and techniques that can only be felt through experience and not specifically a workbook of moves. It’s been quite the blessing to have such high caliber of instructors, teachers, trainers, acro yogis (both base and flyers). To learn from the best has been phenomenal but also a frustrating and sometimes emotional experience for me. I am the least experienced flyer here and the advanced level of the manoeuvres we have been doing has challenged me beyond any expectations of what I came into this throwdown with. My ego took quite the brutal turn today and that’s where the emotional aspect came into play. I felt quite unworthy and inadequate with what I’ve brought to the table. The beauty and grace and skill of the people we’ve met is phenomenal. I feel somewhat out of my element, but have always been encouraged through this process by Jessie and Jill, two sensational instructors. Collin and slaDE have also been encouraging , and it’s been great to fly with other people as my base. I’ve even grown more comfortable in my skills as a base. Something I wasn’t certain I’d ever see … I suppose you can say that my tool-belt per se has expanded considerably! And the friendship base of our craft has grown exponentially. Today I really learned the importance of providing a safe effective spot vs a reluctant uncertain spot. The role of the spotter is imperative to the safety of the base / flyer partnership, especially with such advanced asanas as we’ve been trying. And regardless of the skill level of the duo, a spotter has been used 98% of the time here. I certainly find safety and comfort in that backup.
The afternoon brought its own set of challenges. I discovered that B-girling wasn’t really my thing (break-dancing). I was quite klutzy and clumsy in my dance efforts, and felt the need to step back from the less than joyful break dancing strength routines. My shoulders have certainly proven to be a painful challenge from the beginning of this intensive 4-day workshop. slaDE fell naturally into the rhythm and moves of this genre, and I enjoyed photographing the others in the throes of their bliss. It was truly lovely to watch, but finding the desire and need for my own space, I managed to steal away for a walk amidst the Place des Arts, photographing the people immersed in the ‘Just For Laughs’ festival. A fitness contest called ‘The Ego Games’ was especially amusing to film. Some great photos from a Sunday afternoon follow.
10% in your life is what happened to you and 90% is how you react to it.
~ Lou Holtz
From there, our group shifted to the home of Jessie and Eugene for an evening potluck extravaganza. A delectable yummy assortment of food and people. But as I find happens when good times are had, the time flies by, and with a 45 minute + commute back to our host’s place, I was wanting to find time for a cold shower to reduce my core temperature, and make my way off to bed before midnight. 6am comes awfully early and quick with less than my desired 7 hours of restful sleep.
What an incredible creative process today was! We were given a partner to work with as a ‘chameleon’ within a set time frame of 25 minutes, coming up with a routine of sorts that contained spontaneous acro yoga moves that made our heart sing and worked with both partners strengths and weaknesses. I’m learning that being the base on some of these intricate looking transitions is actually attainable to me. Like a shoulder stand. Sha-wing! Today my body is extremely sore and weary, but my energy levels far exceeded that of yesterday. The afternoon workshop on Acro and Capoeira was fascinating. Capoeira is another form of dance that seems way beyond my level of experience and strength. But at the same time, it’s still so neat to witness the combination of martial arts, dance, athleticism and music intertwine with the skills of acrobatic flight.
Being today was our monthly mas-iversary, Hubby and I ate at an amazing Thai restaurant in a Mall food-court, as recommended by Eugene. Who expects to find stellar food at a food-court within a Mall? Not I. But a highly unexpected treat to be sure. If in Montreal and craving yummy and fresh Thai food, made to order, go check out ‘Restaurant Cuisine Bangkok‘ @ 1616 Sainte-Catherine Rue West. Authentically delicious!
The Acro jam in the park was very educational for both slaDE and myself. I finally feel as if I am understanding the beginnings of the move otherwise known as ‘Ninja Star’. Eugene and Jessie spent time with us, breaking each move down in to pieces. I’m enjoying the more advanced moves so much more now that I am feeling confidant in my abilities with each passing day. Hallelujah!
Day 1 at the Acro Yoga Fusion Throwdown should instead be called Acro Yoga Bootcamp extraordinaire. WOW. I am so out of shape, but I simply adored and loved every moment of flying and the body aches. Today I learned the valuable lesson of having a spotter …. it makes all the difference in safety and confidence, for me, in performing these highly advanced acrobatic moves.
What an incredible day! A vibrant, body wrenching, core engaging, spirit flying, confidence building, soul-inspiring kind of day. I surprised myself today by pushing my perceived limitations and thoroughly immersed myself in the acro yoga challenges gifted to us. I flew slaDE really well, surprising myself at the diversity of postures we attempted successfully and achieved wholeheartedly and with beauty. It was an incredible experience to delve in to the realms of such advance postures … shoulder stands, etc. I made the error of not snacking enough during the morning, so by lunchtime, my body crashed and I was oh so tired during our lunch break. Nourished, we returned to the studio and I spent a good long savasana revitalizing my spirit before the afternoon ramped up our energy levels. I’m finding that my body feels weak and weathered through much of the strength moves, but I am pushing my envelope and taste-testing the challenges thrown our way. The afternoon ended with a surprising burst of aerobic strength moves rattled off that pushed my limits of strength and agility. I was so weary. But despite my fatigue, I still found incredible joy and energy in photographing the unfolding events in the ‘Place Des Arts’ square where the ‘Just for Laughs’ festival was in full swing. I love the colour and character of this city … Montreal, the home of never-ending summer festivals!
Although I craved to attend the acro jam in the park this evening, my body declined the invitation and instead decided to shut down regardless of wants or desire. We returned to our hosted haven with a throbbing heat hanging heavily in the air. Despite the intense temperature, we both literally collapsed in to a deep comatose sleep for several hours. It felt amazing to listen to my body’s needs. My shoulder is suffering greatly (thank goodness for ice packs and arnica), and the pain of my broke finger is outrageous. It felt like a crazy maneuver to indulge a steaming hot epsom salt bath in 33 degree Celsius weather, but the healing powers of the salts were dearly needed. An ice pack on the head helped to keep me cool thankfully.
Trying to be present and in the moment, so I am taking each day as it comes, listening to my body, and letting the moment of flow guide me from one moment to the next. We’ll see what tomorrow brings! Time to crash and rejuvenate for tomorrow’s exciting challenges!