AcroYoga Tucson Flash Mob (Credit: Scott Holmes)
AcroYoga Tucson has a diverse and welcoming community. There are no prerequisites for this fun and therapeutic practice. I recently met with Alie Buckmire, Peter Gariepy and Lisa Stoner, three Tucson-based instructors to find out more about AcroYoga in Tucson. Here are five reasons you should check it out.
AcroYoga is Fun and Therapeutic
Alie – AcroYoga is a physical practice that combines yoga, acrobatics and Thai massage. In Acro, we often say let’s play, because AcroYoga makes you feel like a kid again. It makes you laugh, cry and celebrate the power of human connection.
Lisa – AcroYoga is like Cirque du Soleil with people juggling on someone else’s feet. It’s social. When you mix exercise with laughter, movement, and challenge – it’s better than just going to the gym.
Peter – AcroYoga is partner acrobatics. I don’t know that a traditional yogi would consider AcroYoga true yoga, but there are videos of Krishnamacharya doing partner yoga from the 1930s! In addition, my circle of friends and people I like to associate with are in Tucson’s AcroYoga community.
AcroYoga Involves Teamwork
Alie – The three main roles in AcroYoga are,
- The base: the person on the floor, the foundation,
- the flyer: the person flying or in the air – either on the base’s feet, hands, or any combination,
- and the spotter: the person who covers/follows the flyer closely to assist in keeping everyone safe.
As practitioners advance, they tend to pick a specific role, but some enjoy basing and flying. Everyone takes turns spotting. New students should try both basing and flying.
Lisa – Safety is first because you can’t trust (a partner) if you don’t feel safe. It’s “we” instead of me and you. In other words, there is no assignment of blame. Communication is key, and in AcroYoga, we focus on kind language and acknowledgment of feelings.
Peter – When I practice on my own with an advanced flyer, I don’t always have a spotter. Otherwise, there is always a base, a flyer and a spotter. We need to focus on safety, establishing trust, and the technical aspects of the movement.
AcroYoga Tucson Has a Diverse & Welcoming Community
Alie – Like yoga in general, people are drawn to AcroYoga for very different reasons. Some people love the physical challenge of AcroYoga, some love the community and others love the confidence that an AcroYoga practice instills in you.
Lisa – People in the Tucson AcroYoga community are from different backgrounds and careers. For example, a good portion are in their late 30s to 40s+. In addition, people are very welcoming at the free jams throughout town. A jam may seem intimidating, but people will help. The community is very open.
Peter – The core AcroYoga community in Tucson has about 30-40 people, and another 50-100 dabble in it. About 1000 people also follow the Facebook page. Some U of A students attend classes, but the group really is diverse. I’m 58, and several accomplished flyers in town are in their 50s.
AcroYoga Has No Prerequisites
Alie – Anyone can show up to an AcroYoga class. In other words, you can be at any fitness level or flexibility level. It doesn’t matter. The great thing about AcroYoga is that you can step into it anywhere and be challenged at your level.
Lisa – It helps to have some strength, but even if you’re ripped, the practice is more about stabilizing instead of just plain power. Start small, improve body awareness and repeat until the muscles are built. Also, take a class from more than one teacher. Students pick up something from each teacher and find what’s working for them.
Peter – It’s good to check in with your doctor, especially if you have a pre-existing condition. That said, there really are no prerequisites. Just show up. There are no size or physical ability constraints. For example, I’ve worked with both blind and deaf flyers who have amazing proprioception. Show up with desire and an open mind, and you’ll be fine.
AcroYoga Offers Different Levels of Involvement
Alie – For a typical AcroYoga class, participants should expect a warm-up session to prepare them for the class, a rules review, behavior discussion (e.g., we instead of you/me) and safety instruction. After that, most classes encourage new students to try both basing and flying. Everyone has to spot.
Lisa – Some of the AcroYoga Tucson community performs as Bigtoeacro. We’ve been at the Rialto Gala with a 70s theme, at a polyamorous event where we used trios and at the Mermaid Festival. We also have done some private events for El Rio and Tucson Medical Center. My partner, Misha, and I did a July 4th event in Sahuarita. Future events include the Brandi Fenton Winter Solstice by Cirque Roots and our Gem & Jam Flash mob. Some of our events are paid and some we do for free.
Peter – Locally, we have our 5th Annual AcroYoga Retreat October 18-20, 2019 in Globe, AZ. It’s limited to 30 participants and already sold out with participants from Phoenix and Tucson. I’m looking for a larger venue for next year.
About AcroYoga Tucson Instructors
As a founding member of Flight School Acrobatics, Alie has taught AcroYoga in the Tucson community for some time. He loves that Acro touches something deep inside of all of us, allowing us to get in touch with our younger selves and to laugh from our souls. In addition, he enjoys challenging students with sequences that build confidence, inspire fun and give them something to work on. Finally, he loves seeing how much his students have progressed and inspired others. Alie often says, “It’s never about the final posture, but about all the little pieces that get you there.” In 2015, Alie opened Om Yoga Studio, which offers AcroYoga, Aerial Yoga and traditional floor yoga.
Peter was a runner with a competitive, athletic background. He started out with yoga basics and Bikram before a teacher who wanted to try AcroYoga assumed she needed to bring her own partner/base to class. Hugely skeptical and thinking he was too old and fat, Peter left his first AcroYoga class completely addicted to the community, interaction and fun nature of AcroYoga. He is an avid L-baser, dabbles in stand-up basing and occasionally flies. His favorite AcroYoga movement is a pop, where the flyer momentarily disconnects from the base. Peter has a certificate from AcroYoga Montreal and currently is completing his 200-hour yoga teacher training.
Lisa grew up dancing and has always had movement in her day. She discovered AcroYoga when it came up at her daughter’s tumbling class. They found mini flows on Instagram, then Googled it and saw some more movements that got them hooked. Lisa started out as a base, flying her daughter. At 5’2”, she mostly flies now. Her favorite AcroYoga movements are fast-spinning flows and pops. Lisa was introduced to the AcroYoga Tucson community through classes with Alie and Peter. She then received teacher training from Lux, Seattle Acro. She enjoys drilling the fundamentals and watching people grow.