Acro Yoga CommUNITY.

Via Melissa Smith
on Dec 13, 2011
get elephant's newsletter
Jon soars with Mel, photo by Simon Gentry

Have you ever flown a kid like an airplane, on your feet? Yeah? Well, I do that with adults. I fly them, like a kid. It’s the simplest explanation of what I do when I meet people outside the bubble of the acro yoga world. I’ve flown people in airports, stores, malls, museums, outside, inside, and just about anywhere you can think of. And, why not?! Just describing it does not compare with the fun of experiencing it.

When I get an opportunity to fly someone their first flight, I consider it a privilege. It’s like being someone’s first yoga teacher because they have nothing yet to compare it to. A blank slate. Offering them a therapeutic flying experience and observing the look of dazed bliss on their face when they float back to the ground, now that is pure mudita. Feeling vicarious joy or pleasure in delighting in their experience is slightly addictive.

I stumbled upon an acro yoga 3 years ago and was immediately hooked and haven’t looked back since. The little acro community where I am has been slow growth. A few self-less monkeys who just wanted to be upside down emerged this past summer and so began our weekly free jams. 

Yoga and community, 2 things that should be synonymous. Regrettably, what I’m observing is that we are creating mini tribes everywhere. I’ve witnessed others trying to build things on their own, little yoga empires and cringed at how it’s caused bitterness and division by showcasing themselves. Saddened by the unwillingness of a few and yet hopeful by the generosity of many who seem to be coming around to the virtues of connecting at city wide events. I would rather stand on the shoulders or legacy of my teachers than step on the heart of someone to get ahead in this highly competitive yoga environment.

Thai love for Dana, photo by Simon Gentry
commUNITY, photo by Simon Gentry

I believe you rise up and become a strong tribe when you seek to build it together. I have to admit, involving everyone and making them feel included is really hard work, often exhausting, in fact. I hope we’re making strides in being inclusive and not appearing exclusive. I don’t want to be just another yoga click. When someone comes into a jam, they should soar, fly! But, they should also know, it’s not about free flights. They should try and learn to fly others, be a supportive spotter & encourager and share with someone else the gift of flight. It’s the giving and receiving that creates powerful commUNITY.  A sangha or tribe of any lasting value and legacy has this.

This is my tribe.

the lovely Balushka bases Matt, photo by Simon Gentry

Sangha (Tribe)
Where have you discovered community in 2011? What are the defining characteristics and essential qualities of your tribe?



About Melissa Smith

Melissa is a freelance writer, zealous traveler, momma, and AcroThaiTherapeuticsYogaLifeStudentOccasionalTeacher. She leads advanced teacher trainings for Leeann Carey Yaapana Yoga, specializing Therapeutic Partner Practice and hosts retreats in Texas, Thailand & New Orleans for Grace Yoga Retreats. Connect with her on Facebook, her Grace Yoga Blog, and Twitter. or read other Elephant Journal articles.


17 Responses to “Acro Yoga CommUNITY.”

  1. Mateo says:

    Agreed. Partnership is about coming together. Acro is about partnering. People clique, though. It’s our nature. However, the love of the art is a uniting component.

    Collaboration trumps competition every day, and the best way to “get known” is to be known as a unifying force.

    Well done Melissa. I look forward to more articles from your corner.

  2. Love what you say about the little tribes the yoga world creates instead of larger communities. The sad truth! Change begins with the self though and it sounds like you are building community where you are. I'm excited to do my first acroyoga immersion in March!

    your fellow elephant,

  3. Can't wait until I get to fly with you!

  4. Sheri says:

    Melissa, every experience with this community always leaves me in such awe how just how loving people can be. The intentional connecting to each other physically does something amazing to help connect spirits. Putting someone up on your feet gives you an immediate understanding of a person's personality. Seeing someone that is generally controlling of their world suddenly release into the experience is something that will never get old. I am just so thankful for each and every person I have encountered through the jams.

  5. Kristin says:

    Melissa – I am with Sheri. I think she might be talking about me, "controlling of their world!" I was terrified to fly for the first time with Mateo, and even more terrified to start to learn to fly others. Why should they trust me? Still a baby, but that experience was one more step on this painful journey that I am on to open up more to the world around me, and not stay so safe and tight in my bubble. Glad to see that this is spreading in Katy, and my doors are always open to you guys for a jam! No mosquitoes!

  6. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Melissa, I love that you are here and the vibes you bring. I haven't tried Acroyoga, but I'd love to and I'd love to fly! I can imagine it's a great release and also smile-provoking. Sounds wonderful! I also loved what you wrote about yoga and community – focusing on what brings us together versus farther a part. Thank you!

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Join us! Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
    Follow on Twitter

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage. Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook.

  7. melissa says:

    Thank you Lauren… change- I'm learning (over and over and over) that it's gotta begin with me. why is that so hard to learn? 🙂
    yeah for the immersion!!
    come play with us in texas anytime!

  8. melissa says:

    I'm right there with you, Sheri. it's transformed me in so many ways… you do learn a lot about trust.. 🙂

  9. melissa says:

    🙂 thanks for the comments Kristin- we'd love to come play there… you're a leader in the community- and am grateful for that! let's do it!!

  10. melissa says:

    Thank you, Tanya… life is just too good. through all the "stuff" – let's just bring it- get over it – and move forward- that's what I love about acro- you keep at it. when you fall- you just do it again. always leave having done it- rather than feeling defeated.
    Yep, come fly with us anytime!! 🙂 Texas is waiting for you!!!

  11. Jules says:

    come fly us at the South Bay Yoga Conference!

  12. […] works ever written on yoga by Patanjali a long, long time ago), the whole goal of practicing yoga techniques (which I do) is to ultimately surrender everything (desires included, and don’t get me […]

  13. melissa says:

    thanks Mike…. jai. it's all good, right? 🙂

  14. melissa says:

    unified. thanks Mateo… that's my hope/ wish/ manifestation! : )

  15. […] is still going well. The co-executive directors of the non-profit took the stage after a brief acro-yoga entrance. One of the directors made a human chair while laying on her back, while the other […]