Why Do You Acro?

     Chances are if you’ve had any kind of hobby, spent any amount of time playing an instrument for a band, maybe opened up your own coffee shop downtown; you’ve been asked the question “Why?” Why do you enjoy flying kites? Why did you choose to move instead of staying in your hometown with family? Why do you stay up for hours on end practicing one rift for tomorrow night’s gig? Why a coffee shop?

     While reading this blog post, I want you, the reader, to think of one of these things. A certain hobby of yours, a dream you’ve been pursuing, a new job you’ve taken on, something along these lines and ask yourself the question: “Why?”. What makes you wake up every morning to continue pursuing this passion, this life-long dream you’ve had since you were a kid? Take a moment to think of something, anything that can brighten your day in an instant, make you smile just thinking about it, anything you truly love doing. . . Have you thought of it? Now with this question in mind, and something you’ve thought of, I would like to share something that happened to me recently.

     Ever since I’ve started doing acro, I’ve become a completely different person. Ask any of my friends and they’ll say I’m usually the loud one in the group, yelling across the practice floor, one of the first to pull new people aside and get them into seated-throne for their first time. There is no better way to make a new friend than by lifting them up into the air with your feet, twisting them into a pose they never thought their body could reach, and seeing their faces light up like a Christmas tree when they step back down. I had never dreamt of being so comfortable doing something that I would be outgoing enough to run up to people I’ve never met and ask them to do acro. Never in a million years.

     With all of this being said, I have been trying to get one of my close friends to try acro for what feels like years now (maybe just a few months). The same excuses I hear from anyone I ask she recites word-for-word each time; “I’m not that flexible; You can’t push ME up in the air; There’s no way I could ever do that”. I’m used to these questions, and it doesn’t discourage me. However, she asked me a very simple question, one that I did not realize, until that moment in time, I was completely unprepared to answer whole-heartedly. “Why?” “How am I going to benefit from trying this?” “How do I know I’m not going to suck at it?”

     I have never been so lost for words in my life. My voice disappeared, I began mumbling, hoping I would stumble across some words that made sense and answered her questions. For what felt like hours I tripped around those questions in my head, not coming anywhere near a coherent and meaningful response. At that moment in time I realized I’ve never really sat down and asked myself “Why?”. Why do I look forward to Wednesday nights whenever I’m waking up Thursday morning for school? What am I gaining from spending hours upon hours each week practicing acro? What reason do I have, other than “It’s fun, you should try it!”, that someone else should do this?

     Since this day, I have on multiple occasions sat down and reflected on everything I’ve experienced since trying acro for the first time. I strongly believe, as with any other hobby, after-school sport, social club, anything you thoroughly enjoy doing, you should ask yourself those same questions. Why do you spend hours each day practicing the violin? What makes you keep coming back every Tuesday night to volunteer at your local nursing home? What is your passion, and what is the driving force behind it?

     With this scenario in mind, all of those important questions circulating in your mind, and that one thing you’ve held onto while reading this, I want to share with you a few responses from my fellow acro-friends. I reached out to each person and asked them the same questions that were presented to me, in hopes that maybe I could reach a better understanding of what keeps me coming back every Wednesday night.

1) How did you come across Acro? Where? Who introduced you?

     Kayla - "Arkansas Acro, then called Conway Acro found its home at Body by Resilience, which coincidentally was a frequented place by my friend. She knew that I enjoyed yoga and when she heard of Conway Acro we went for the first time together in August."

 One of our strongest lady bases. When she's not basing you, she's most likely upside down.

One of our strongest lady bases. When she's not basing you, she's most likely upside down.

     Shayla - "I was looking for something to keep me active in college. I didn’t want to gain the dreaded “freshman fifteen” and I hadn’t been feeling confident in my body. I slowly noticed my arms and legs getting bigger and bigger, I was so afraid of being unhealthy physically and mentally. My freshman roommate, Marissa De-Young, started acroyoga before me and I kept seeing her post awesome photos. I decided to message her on Facebook the first semester of my sophomore year, and I attended a Wednesday night class with my then suite mate!"

 


2) Were you hesitant? What were your initial thoughts?

     Jamie - "Once I got there, I was extremely hesitant. I thought these people were nuts. And I didn't think I was physically capable of anything they were doing."

 There's a 90% chance you'll find Lori in a handstand anywhere you see her.

There's a 90% chance you'll find Lori in a handstand anywhere you see her.

     Lori - "I absolutely love to try new things so when I saw acro for the first time, it seemed like something that I would be very interested in. I love acrobatics and handstands and gymnastics so acro was something that I felt was right up my alley! I also tend to dive right into things so my initial thoughts were, "What really cool crazy things can we do with this?"

 

 

 


3) What's your favorite thing about Acro?

 Stephanie tends to be upside down a lot.

Stephanie tends to be upside down a lot.

     Stephanie - "The friendships and bonds formed. It instills a sense of trust and closeness between you and your fellow acroyogis, which is hard to find elsewhere. Also, I feel like it has brought out another side of myself as well. I am more open to experiences because of Acro."

 

     Kayla - "Acro provides an opportunity to be astonished with the things that your body can do and the teamwork that is necessary to accomplish it.  I was surprised at the accessibility of acro and welcomed its challenges as it brought each of us closer together."

 


4) What's your favorite thing about being a member of ArkansasAcro?

 First flight. You'll never see Brittney flying without a smile on her face.

First flight. You'll never see Brittney flying without a smile on her face.

     Brittney - "Its really neat to be in an organization that is state wide because it means there are so many other people out there that like to do the same things I like to do."

     Shayla - "I love meeting and sharing acroyoga with the newcomers that show up week after week. I want so much to make them feel cherished and loved for the few hours that they share with us. Hopefully they leave being as amazed and excited about acro that I was my first time!"

 

 


5) Where does Acro rank? Is it just a hobby? Passion? Could you see yourself for a long time?

 Jamie bending over backward on her trip to Ireland. 

Jamie bending over backward on her trip to Ireland. 

     Jamie - "Acro yoga definitely ranks pretty high for me. It's still a hobby, but also a passion in itself. I know that it's something that I'll be doing for a good while. I often use it as a way to de-stress or to get to know new people, so I think it will continue to play a key role in my forming of new relationships in my life."

     Lori - "For me, Acro has gone from hobby to passion. I started doing it just for fun, but now it is something that I see myself doing for a very long time. Every week I want to do acro as often as I can."

 


6) Do you see yourself as a teacher or a student?

     Stephanie - “Both! That's the awesome thing about Acro, you don't have to be an expert to teach and you don't have to be a beginner to learn! It's ongoing!”

 Even one of the simplest acro poses can be a ton of fun. Kayla knows how to make anything fun! 

Even one of the simplest acro poses can be a ton of fun. Kayla knows how to make anything fun! 

     Kayla - “Although there is "formal" teaching through class and teachers. We all become teachers as we play in the park, welcome new members, and introduce more people to the community.  I will continue to walk the boundary between the student and a teacher of sorts as I continue my journey with Acro.”

 


7) How close do you feel to other members of ArkansasAcro? How quickly do you make friends?

     Lori - “As a person who feels like they are able to make friends quickly, I would say I feel very close to some of the other members at ArkansasAcro! Getting to see them every week brings a lot of joy to my life and I love practicing with the different members.”

 When she's not doing acro, you can usually find a book in Jamie's hands.

When she's not doing acro, you can usually find a book in Jamie's hands.

     Jamie - “Considering I typically do not make new friends very well, I was surprised at how quickly I made friends in ArkansasAcro. Acro yoga is just such a trusting experience, that once you're flying with someone, it's like you're already friends. Like, doing acro yoga with someone takes the place of that initial, awkward, "get to know you" conversation.”

 

 

 

 

 


8) What would you say to someone seeing acro for the first time?

 All smiles, upside down or right-side up!

All smiles, upside down or right-side up!

     Shayla - “I always tell newcomers that we all have to start somewhere! Acroyoga and Yoga are journeys that everyone takes at their own pace. Practice, practice, practice. Also, you will fall, over and over and over, don’t be discouraged its just part of learning!”

     Stephanie - “Don't knock it till you try it. I swear we're not just a bunch of hooligans monkeying around! You don't have to have a gymnast or yoga background, you just need an open mind and a slight amount of trust because the rest will come naturally if you give it a shot!”

 

 


9) What benefits come to you from being a part of this family?

 Lori's second home is on the side of a mountain.

Lori's second home is on the side of a mountain.

     Lori - “The friendships that I have made with the Hannahs, Scott, and some of the other members are friendships that have encouraged me, and built me up. Joining a new group of friends that are actually in Conway has been so nice! I've also gained confidence, strength and flexibility because of this family!”

     Jamie - “I think I mostly benefit from the community aspect of acro yoga. The people that I once thought were super weird have kind of grown on me, and having those unique relationships has brightened my life.”

 


 

10) And last but not least, “Why do you Acro?”

     Brittney - “I acro because it is relaxing and fun. I spend time with some really cool people as well.”

     Shayla - “I acro simply to exercise. I share this passion with others and hope that it will show them how strong they really are. I’ve found an immense amount of love for myself as well as a positive way to receive, share, and show love to others through acro.”

     Jamie - “I acro because it's weird. Because it is comfortable and easygoing, and then it's challenging and sweaty. Because it connects me with other people, and it helps me learn to trust. Because it's relieves my stress after a difficult test, and because it makes me feel weightless. In acro, I can balance on someone's toes, and I can hold a 240-lb guy in the air. I acro because it makes us strong, and it makes us gentle.”

     Lori - “I acro because it is something that was fun and new that has turned into something that I love. I love the friendships, the connection, the challenge, the excitement, the love. All of it together makes acro something that I am passionate about and that I plan to do long into my future! YAY ACRO!”

     Stephanie - “I acro because it's fun, it looks cool, and because why not? You get awesome friends and an interesting hobby! That's a win in my book!”

     Kayla - “I acro because it is fun, it pushes me to be better, and I get to see and help others grow as well.  It doesn't hurt that it is a beautiful art that makes me rely on others."

 

     I hope that after reading all of these responses, you have a better understanding of why all of us crazy people do acro. What positive impact it can have on you; not just from the exercise, but from the family that is there with you every step of the way. If you’ve enjoyed reading this, and want to experience what its like to be a member of our family, reach out to me on Facebook, check out our awesome website, and drop by some Wednesday and see for yourself why all of us acro.  So, why do you acro?