Show Business

Jesse Saunders is a name you’ll read time and time again throughout this blog. He’s my trusted and brilliant Acroyoga teaching partner, super talented acrobalance accomplice and needless to say, close friend. We have been working together for over three years and a natural accumulation of our partnership and love of showmanship led to stage performance.  Having dipped our toes at the annual Mind Body Spirit Festival 2009 and London Yoga Show 2008, we were poised to create something bigger and better.

Drum roll please.

Jesse and I were invited to put on a show at the Scratch That cabaret night at the Hanger, also known as the Aircraft Circus School based in South East London in July. Having received our invite only two weeks before the big night, Jesse and I began preparations immediately. We knew what we wanted to achieve; an entertaining narrative that incorporated the multidisciplinary arts of acrobatics and circus skills, topped off with a very generous helping of character and comedy. Borrowing from popular culture, we took created a sketch featuring the quarrelsome antics of Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. What ensued was unabashed acrobatic inspired slapstick, as the bickering twosome squabbled over a poor hapless suitcase.

Our big night was filled with the typical pre-stage butterflies, but a warm audience and the bright lights made for an exciting, memorable roller coaster experience. Post performance highs guarantee a sequel!

We Are Family

As a self confessed acroyoga junkie, I was thrilled to be part of Acroyoga London’s inaugural closed course group. Having attended Sunday night classes for about a year I felt I was ready for take on the challenge of progressing my Acroyoga skills to the next level. The course certainly did not disappoint and  over the six months our group transformed into micro community who were united in the need and experience of learning and practice of asanas, performance skills, massage techniques and flying routines.
Jaqui Wan and Jesse Saunders led a group of students, most of which already had a strong foundation from attending regular open classes. Together they helped us progress to the next level of competence and confidence; each month we delved more deeply into the multidisciplinary practices of Acroyoga. We enjoyed guest instruction from experts like Brett Jackson of the Swamp Circus, and due to our solid background  he was able to share advanced and invaluable circus tips and tricks.
Our Group formed a genuine bond; and so it was no surprise when we elected to rent a mini bus and take a group outing to Holland for the annual Dutch Acrobatic Festival; where we were able to share with the world how strong and accomplished Acroyoga London had become and it’s position as a bedrock in the global Acroyoga family.
It was a genuine pleasure and an honour to be part of the Group and the broader community; the opportunity to deepen my practice with dedicated teachers and committed students who embody Acroyoga’s principles is not a chance to be missed.

By Danny Attias

You Can’t Beat a Bit of Bath

A combination of two GPS systems, two printed map routes, one full size map book, four pairs of eyes, words of encouragement to Jaqui’s car and maybe a few too many u-turns got us to the Bath country house for our Bodacious Bonfire Yoga weekend.

The journey from London was fuelled by celery sticks, carrots and peppers (expertly prepared by Roxy’s other half) and yummy cake (thank you Noras) and a lot of girlish excitement.  We were met with warm chai and cake on arrival which left us  suitably refreshed for a gentle evening practice.  But cake was not the order of the evening, but of the weekend! This was a yoga weekend that was defined by good food and a lot of eating.

It was great to stretch out the cramps and aches from the car journey, and get acquainted with the yoga studio – but we only had time for a quick hour and a little bit of flying before getting ready for supper.  After showering and settling in we ate pumpkin soup and freshly baked bread, and ended the evening feeling very content!

Saturday commenced with meditation at 9:00 followed by class at 9.30, a very reasonable start time indeed.  The yoga throughout the day was great; a fast paced start to get warmed up that was later capitalised by by inversions and Acroyoga.  Headstands, handstands and forearm balances were all worked on, as well as inversions balancing on people’s backs and in between their knees!  It sounds strange, but looks great!  And some more flying which I really enjoyed.

We also focused on standing balances and arm balances: for example practicing going from bakasana into tripod headstand.  As usual – it’s all about the core!  Ooouch!

Between morning and afternoon classes we ate (a lot!), dozed (only a little!) and cuddled up with the very fluffy cat Flicker, and enjoyed saunas.  Those who like it hot (Vaclav!) were very happy to be in charge of the water bucket and we soon warmed up our winter bodies for the afternoon session.

Saturday evening was a really nice night – we had intended to go to a Fireworks display,  but it was cold and dark; we were in the middle of nowhere and quite happy to be just there, after all we were full, sleepy and spent. So with little enthusiasm for fireworks we decided to play board games!  We settled on Cranium – a team game involving trivia and word / spelling questions as well as drawing, charades, singing / humming and modelling things in clay.  This is what Saturday nights are made for. Seeing fellow yogis jump around like Michael Flatly (Chris), trying to mime a parrot (Stefane) and humming ABBA’s Dancing Queen or Sister Sledge’s We Are Family (Shahana) caused me to laugh to the point of exhaustion. Without a doubt our evening Craniun frolics warmed us more than a Bonfire ever could.

Sunday started with a massage for me, great relief for a stretched shoulder I had been nursing all week.  I love massages and to have one so easily and as part of the weekend was very welcome!

The rest of the day was spent doing lots of yoga puncutated with eating and sauna.  A bit of crazy impromptu dancing to the Black Eyed Peas I Gotta Feeling warmed us up for the penultimate yoga session before we unwound with partner massage, our final workshop. We finished the weekend with another big delicious feast. It was hard to leave; the weekend went so quickly, but felt like were there for days and days, and the thought of returning to work on the Monday was hard to deal with.  The best thing about leaving was looking forward to the returning.

By Natalie Smith

Mainly Cloudy

This year I had the opportunity to offer Acroyoga at Buddhafield. This established cultural festival is organised by the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order and takes it roots from the Mahayana tradition.  Held in July, this 5 day event is celebrated  in the beautiful coppice woodland of  the Somerset countryside.

I also had the privilege of a teaching partner, Tobias Frank – a wonderful Acroyoga teacher from Cologne; we were both full of anticipation and apprehension for what the Festival had in store: poised to enjoy, to learn and to meet. So with the spirit of adventure, a bell tent, some handstand blocks and chalk at the ready we made our way.

After a long drive to the West country we arrived but by the looks of it, grey clouds had followed us all the way from London.  Unfortunately I prepared for every possibility, except that of rain in Devon in July. And as it turned out not passing rain clouds, but constant rain. Embrace it, we did. Me, booted with wellies and Tobia with flip flops, we commandeered some wheel barrows and trundled our effects through the mud tracks of the undulating hills and erected the tent under the grey canopy of the steadfast Nimbostratus. With such wet conditions, the on site sauna became an even more grateful and fond delight. As the days went on, the rain persevered and my poor tentmanship cracked under duress. Folly number 1: forgetting to tuck the edges under the ground sheet. Result: wet bedding! Folly number 2: not maintaining the integrity of  the guy ropes. Result: No tent top! The hardship and realities of camping were sent to test us, but it did  not dampen our spirit – everyday we had the chance to share the blessings of Acroyoga to a warm, playful and receptive community; an honour which I would gladly volunteer again and again and again.

By Jaqui Wan

Darling Yoga Buds of May

The invitation came from a fellow classmate to join the spring yoga retreat near Udine, Italy. I had no hesitations in going after following Jacqui’s weekly class for over two years. The chance to experience five days of immersive practice under her guidance in an idyllic location away from the noise and bright lights of London could not be overlooked.

Relationships developed quickly in such an atmosphere as we were absorbed in yoga and Italian lifestyle; gelato, sunshine, meals on the veranda, yoga by the lake – what a wonderful setting! Over five hours of yoga per day gave me a chance to experience new postures and also try out Jaqui’s speciality; Acroyoga.

My body may have ached after the first day, but was re-energised by the fourth nearly feeling renewed and ready to tackle my London life style. I think everyone could do with these experiences in life.

By Roxanne Degarie

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