Chips with peanut sauce and an upside down weekend

Running to the airport, as usual (I must thrive on the stress of nearly missing a plane) my friend Claudette and I were on our way to Amsterdam for a weekend of Acroyoga with Jaqui Wan and her teaching partner Tobias Frank from Germany. We were too late at Gatwick for any proper lunch so it was a quick juice to take on EasyJet and chips with mayonaise and peanut sauce at Schipol Airport (tried and tested my Claudette on a trip to Holland at new year.)

We only knew the hotel was on a ringroad (so figured not in central Amsterdam) however it was a 15 minute bus ride to Rasa Lila the yoga studio housed in an old school building, along with lots of other creative businesses. So it was a train to Central Station and then a taxi. We discovered on the way back that we were actually two stops from the airport, on the way the centre of the city: doh!

No time to try out the delights of the spa as we had to rush off to the first session of the weekend at Rasa Lila.  Luckily we met Jaqui and Tobi on the way in as we were a bit perplexed at the address and they carefully steered us the back way into the studio to avoid the hall floors that had just been polished.  The studio was small but perfectly formed with a beautiful mural on one wall, wood floor, low lighting and a cup of tea on arrival.  Friday night was focused on spotting – or how to ensure the flyer is safe at all times and was a great way for the group to bond and build trust.  I think Claudette and I had travelled furthest – though one student had driven from Belgium and was going to Barcelona the following weekend since there are no classes in her home town!  Yes, this Acroyoga business is worth travelling for.

Saturday we started with meditation and group check in and were soon launching into Jaqui and Tobi’s famous “bootcamp” conditioning exercises – think arm training first thing in the morning – but totally necessary to built up strength especially in the core muscles…”dry noodle!” being Jaqui’s cry all weekend.  By mid morning I could definitely “feel my body” and in a good way, especially as I tend to spend far too much time in front of a computer.

Then the acrobatics started in earnest with handstand practice in small groups to build our strength and balance in preparation for the partner acro for the rest of the day.  Lunch (nicked leftover breakfast from our hotel!) was suitably light so we could keep up for the afternoon. Claudette and I spent most of the afternoon developing our basing skills – you have to be flexible, strong and very present (as of course do the flyer and spotter) to balance your partner in a series of yogic/acrobatic moves on your hands and feet whilst you are lying on the floor with your legs at 90 degrees.  We had amazing fun and at the end of the day (even after a great Thai massage) we were definitely ready for the hotel spa which was most certainly worth it!

Sunday morning I could really “feel my body” and wasn’t sure I was going to keep up until 5pm…but with my usual determination I kept going.  We started with a chanted meditation to come together as a group, and after our usual check in we went into a hardcore asana sequence for the next 45 minutes.  Then into different groups to learn more moves from Jaqui and Tobi.  Before lunch it was announced we’d be performing at the end of the day – the clue should have been the question at the beginning of the day “what has been your experience of performing in the past”!

A delicious lunch at a local café was followed by an afternoon of working out what our group’s sequence was going to be for the end of the day.  We all took turns in both basing and flying at some point which kept us on our toes…and amazingly it all came together, especially as the first time we heard the music was when we were “on stage”!  The skills  in the room were really impressive and we had obviously all developed a lot and had a great deal of fun over the course of the weekend.  The day finished with the group carrying each person individually over our heads to give them a massage to go home with!  It now feels like I have a whole new Acroyoga community in Holland and I hope to re-connect very soon and turn my world upside down.

By Kate Bacon

Near and Far

Near and Far

On a high in New York

On the weekend of March 20, 2010 I participated in a No Nonsense Acroyoga Intensive workshop taught by Tobias Frank and Jaqui Wan,  two Acroyoga teachers from Europe. Students also came from near and afar including British Columbia, Boston, Philadelphia,  New Jersey (they almost dominated) and native New Yorkers.

Tobias and Jaqui immediately established their skill, rigor, intensity, no nonsense attitude  and goofiness.  I quickly learned some important lessons: in conditioning drills: “Do not max out just because the teacher says so” and “Think twice before volunteering to spot Jaqui.” She is extremely “creative”  in demonstrating the pitfalls of various postures.

In all seriousness, we covered an enormous amount of material with complete safety due to the rigorous and highly entertaining focus on spotting technique. We did extended leg variations in star, lots of bird variations, shoulder stand to free shoulderstand  twisting to straddle bat, drop to straddle bat from back plank, bird to star to bird and handstand to back plank to drop… Wow. Phew. Several of the drills were particularly amusing, especially throne catch (as a juggler I noted and will attempt to recruit one particular acro teacher who showed an uncanny ability to catch errant throws while basing and without dropping her flyer) and cartwheel chorus line, which led to cartwheel in and out of star, which I never thought would be possible so soon.

I want to mention, there was an extraordinary clarity in the demonstrations by Tobias and Jaqui and an attention to detail that made the flows easy to understand. They both were great at helping the various groups as we were practicing.   I also want to mention our New York acroyoga teachers who participated and also assisted. There was some very touching evidence that the local teachers were proud of their students’ accomplishments and that the students were very grateful to their local teachers.

The second afternoon, a so-called curve was thrown at us which with hindsight should not have been a surprise.  It was signalled by the circle question in the morning “Have you ever performed?” You got to pay attention to those questions! We were told about this before lunch–allegedly so we wouldn’t stress out or worry.  (Jaqui and Tobias please explain the logic of this!  Perhaps a moment of sadistic pleasure at the thought of a group of students trying to digest their lunches?)

Each working group was given about an hour to prepare a  five minute performance. Despite substantial anxiety, the remarkable thing was that every performance was very enjoyable and each of the performances was unique.  In discussing the creative process it was interesting to hear how in each group the various members found they could build on each others ideas and create something together except in my group where we found that nobody could get on the same wavelength and yet we managed somehow to create something together anyway.  I still can’t figure that out.

Everyone I talked to felt a great sense of no nonsense (hah!) accomplishment at the end of the workshop, and the wonderful group spirit already existing in our acroyoga community was greatly enhanced.  I want to thank Jaqui and Tobias, all of my old friends from the New York acro community, and my new friends from near and far.

By Andrew Eisner

New York New York!!

Being in New York,…….

Don't you just love the view!

I was in New York for about a week, but am now in Chicago preparing for a weekend workshop. Anyhow you maybe interested in know what I got up to in New York, after getting over my mild jet lag and general over excited anxious hysteria in actually being here.

Firstly, stayed with a friend who happened to be out of town, but very conveniently lives on the 17th floor of big corporate looking building in the Financial District.

Guess what we landed gold, with a view to die for… looking out onto Brooklyn Bridge.

Anyways, I managed to check in with a couple of yoga studios in New York, which there are plenty to choose from. I did an Anusara master class at Vira Yoga, Vinyasa Flow at Kula Yoga Project and Flight School with Raghunath – oh my God! handstand vinyasas you have to check this guy out!  He does not have a lot on YouTube but I found this.  Any how I had so much fun in his class as I really got to work on my handstands in a dynamic and fluid way.  I am so checking him out when I get back to New York in a week’s time.

New York sky line with a sparkle

As for our weekend ʻNo Nonsense (aka Nonsense) Acrobatics Intensive, both Tobias and I were so humbled to have taught at Om Factory one of the homes and long established AcroYoga communities in the United States and to be supported by the New York teachers was true honor.