Many have lusted after it. Lululemon made millions off of it. It has its own entry in Urban Dictionary. The Holy Grail. The Quan... the Yoga Butt. Against all my scoffing, it turns out to be just as powerful as all the hype.
But(t) before going further, let's go back. Practicing outside of a Western context, I'm new to the concept having only heard it uttered by a non-yogi friend last summer in Montreal. A Google search of "where did yoga butt start" led me to a string of articles about struggles with body image. This is particularly topical as of late in Korea as pop star, JYP, just released a song about butts. I'll let you google that on your own. To even greater disgust (I'm looking at your Bill Maher!), afterwards he was chastised, not for his objectifying message, but that the butts he chose to lust after weren't big enough. Korea is first in the world for number of cosmetic procedures, a whopping 1/5 women have had some sort of augmentation. In a place of immense competition and commodification, Tina Fey's sentiment couldn't ring more true. (above)
I'm not immune from the sexualization of yoga here in Korea but I do have the luxury of being sheltered from it. This is based purely on limited passive exposure to media in my native language. I don't pick up on ads playing in restaurants or images in print the same as I would back in the States. I'm lucky and thankful to be in these circumstances, this bubble. Beyond the bubble, it was yoga that gave me back some ownership of my body. It wasn't about how it looked, it was about what my body could become capable of. Nobody really looks cool splaying their toes likes a monkey, but mine definitely outstretch most. And I love them. They are hands (feet?) down some of the most dexterous toes in the game.
I decided: I'm reclaiming it. The Yoga Butt is real, and it's awesome. When I talk "yoga butt," I'm going past an ornamental accoutrement made to parade around overpriced pants. Sure, let that be the bait to get you there. I'm talking ass-blasting power that keeps your sacrum stable and you balancing on one leg like King Flamingo. I venture to say that a majority of people don't walk into a studio seeking enlightenment. What keeps you there is feeling like a badass doing something in the skin you're in- not 10lbs lighter you, not two inches taller you, not 20 years ago you, not fatter ass you- YOU. Exactly as you are, exactly in that specific moment.
To the undiscerning eye, my butt is more pancake that apple. (If you ever catch me out on a Saturday night, ask me about the time I met Sir Mix-a-Lot doing a radio show. Suffice it to say I was vapor in that studio.) Dumps like a truck? No. Yoga butt? Like it's my job. Honestly, I like it. I feel kind of like a superhero- packing heat undercover.
Insider's Secret: Standing Balances
For a big chunk of my time with yoga, both as a teacher and student, I avoided standing balances. I like feeling fire as long as I can move with it. Standing balances were like being forced to stand still in the middle of a furnace while being melted alive. First coming to yoga as a means to work out, I expected to move, not stand still. It took me 12 years to really gain an appreciation for this part of the practice.
The Science: Body Imbalances Between the Front and Back Body
The problem most common across the board is a world full of "lazy butts." Office life and desk warming leaves us sitting. The gluteal muscles aren't put to use and if you don't use it, you lose it. Without the support of strong glutes, the psoas ends up working overtime to stabilize the pelvis. Hip flexion muscles, the psoas in particular, stay in a shortened position while sitting. This causes tightness over time and can change the default angle of the pelvis. A "neutral" pelvis should tilt slightly forward with the tailbone pointing down. This is why so many people struggle to sit upright on the floor. This imbalance is the start of a world of hurt: knee pain, back pain, eventually spiraling up the length of the spine to affect the shoulders and neck. Time to put that butt to work!
The Sequence: A Short Flow for Back Body Strength and Front Body Opening
Here is a sequence that I use to focus on strengthening the glutes while lengthening the psoas to restore front and back body balance. With an overactive psoas and underdeveloped glutes, at first there will be a tendency to rely on "pulling" the lifted leg in standing balances rather than pushing the standing leg into extension (hip bones pushing forward rather than tucking back.) With this sequence, stay focused on the pushing action- driving the big toe, ball and heel of the foot into the mat.
- Foot placement: foot will be pigeon-toed. Line up the side of the standing foot with the edge of the mat. This helps avoid torque on the knee.
- Maintain "good" alignment to protect the knees: good= knee over middle toe, knee behind the toes.
- If you're pulling, the quad will burn, if you're pushing (particularly through the heel) the bottom of the butt, where it meets the thigh, will burn (gluteus maximus). Work to push.
- For this sequence, work with soft knees (slightly bent up to a full 90°.) No locked knees!
- Breath, breath, breath. Cues have been given on connecting breath and movement in different positions.
Illustrations by Izette Bredenkemp
Time to open up! The dog days of summer will be filled with stretching and strengthening to unlock our "6 degrees of freedom." Whether looking to gain more range of motion to play harder, or find more ease and less pain from too little movement, these master classes will benefit all.
These master classes are challenging but doable. Please notify Mindy of any injuries or ongoing pain you may be experiencing.
This is the first of five workshops focused on one specific asana to explore different hip movement patterns. Students may take master classes individually or a set!
Registration Information |
Single workshop- 35,000w |
(3) workshops - 90,000w | full series (5)- 125,000w
May be paid via cash in studio, paypal or bank transfer.
Paypal- email@example.com | Bank Transfer- Busan Bank #112-2197-7512-01
8.4.18 | #1 Hanumanasana
Hanumasana details here.
8.11.18 | #2 Infinity Pose
8.18.18 | #3 Dragonfly
9.15.18 | #4 Lotus
9.29.18 | #5 Supta Kurmasana
Supta Kurmasana details.
There are few scarier moments than that short 10hr period when I lost use of my legs. I had thrown my back out mopping very filthy bar floors. What started as a twinge grew increasingly unbearable on the drive home until I was crawling from the street over the lawn to the front door on my elbows. My lil' bitty niece, barely 100lbs sopping wet, got under my weight and helped drag me to my bed in the basement. It wasn't until the following afternoon that the lightning-like pain down the back of my legs subsided enough to support my weight and allow me to stand on my own.
This moment stands out as the peak of pain, the peak of fear, in my life, but was merely the punctuation on a decade of suffering. A decade of specialized choreography to get out of bed. A decade of adjusting the way I sneezed so I had time to brace my hands against my knees to support the force. A decade of being told by every doctor, yoga teacher, specialist, that I was in pain because I was too weak. A decade of death by a thousand cuts losing my confidence, my capability, my hope in being "normal," my belief in myself.
It was yoga that broke me and yoga that fixed me. I mention this because yoga is often touted as a cure-all but it is a tool like any other. Its usefulness lay in its use.
Things to Keep in Mind
2. YES, YOU CAN.
We're all broken.
That's how the light gets in
Everything new is scary. Think of how babies react to trying carrots for the first time. Delicious or not, diving into the unfamiliar requires bravery. Now every time my back gets twingy, I've been through it; I know what to do- but it didn't start that way. My current level of confidence and comfort facing down the pain was a decade in the making. Be open, be willing, be brave. You can do it.
2. Be Willing.
Rehab is hard fucking work. Nobody can FIX you. It doesn't matter the methodology- surgery*, chiropractic work, therapeutic massage, pills, a tens machine- these make rehab more comfortable/accessible, but ultimately, it's up to you to put in the work.
*This is not to say don't have surgery. But go into that with open eyes and prepare yourself. Familiarize yourself with the violence of the procedure. Think through the impact on other parts of the body. Bed rest after my ACL reconstruct wreaked havoc on my back. Recognize that surgery isn't chapter 1 on the road to recovery- it's the preface.
Therapy is often associated with soft. The truth is- repair requires an active effort- it won't happen to you but because of you. And it's harder than just working out- you're starting from a diminished capacity. Think about running with a cold. Running will help break up the congestion, but it's going to feel like shit while you're doing it. Following my knee surgery, I had lost 2cms of my thigh muscle to atrophy in just a week of hospital stay and using crutches. When I started to train, I needed to gain back that 2cms before beginning to strengthen to support my back. If thinking about this becomes overwhelming- go back to #1.
3. So You're Ready to Rebuild, But...
RUN in the opposite direction of anyone throwing the word "core" at you.
Sometime in the mid-80s, the word "core" became the catch- all for explaining back pain/problems. All the way through the 2000s, this was the catch-all for "why," despite being "healthy" by all other measures- weight, activity, mental disposition- I was in chronic pain.
"Your core is weak."
"Your core is weak."
"Your core is weak."
What the hell does this even mean? Truth be told, most of the doctors, teachers, specialists couldn't explain. A six-pack wasn't going to be my salvation. What sense is it that stronger abs supercede the roles of all the other structures in the body? No sense at all. The body is a beautifully synergistic organism. Every part must be on board in carrying us- all the toes involved, the head carrying itself, etc. Pain is some part of the body complaining about mandatory overtime when another part is skipping work.
4. More Than Core : Exploring Symptoms v. Cause.
Rarely low back pain is the problem in and of itself. Rather it is a manifestation of issues elsewhere in the body. These can include: tight hamstrings, hip flexors, upper back, chest (where backpack straps lay on the front.) Work with a knowledgeable movement specialist- to investigate your compensation patterns throughout the body resulting in back pain.
5. Move- Mindfully.
So you're ready to backbend- great! This movement pattern is only beneficial so long as it doesn't transfer stress into other, more vulnerable parts of the body. Unlocking stuck places in the body can be uncomfortable at times. Pain is neither good nor bad but a conversation your body is trying to have with you. Listen to what it is saying. Take a look at this example here. There's worlds of difference between look and feel. This is an absolutely stunning shape but upon closer examination, you can see all of the compensations to create such a big shape.
General guidelines: work with the upper back. Compensations (=pain) in more vulnerable joints: wrists, shoulders, neck, low back, knees, ankles.
Backbending 101 | Let's Begin.
1. Keep it Simple- the Benefits Are There.
Everyone* can do backbending/extension. (*Late term pregnancy should avoid sustaining poses on the back but can perform movements kneeling, standing, etc.) It's finding the appropriate shape and depth to give your body what it needs. Start with cat/cow. Focus at first on maximizing movement through the upper back and ribs.
How to modify for knee pain: perform movements sitting cross legged, in a chair or standing.
2. Work Every Direction of Movement.*
There are 6 ways the spine can move | 1. flexion (touching your toes), 2. extension (stretching up and backwards over a chair), 3.lateral flexion <4.+extension- these movements can't really be isolated> (side bending), 5. rotation (twisting your ribs around), 6.traction (lengthening the spine, creating space in the vertebrae- hanging upside down on an inversion table).
As mentioned above, try to do as much extension throughout the day as possible. It can be as simple as stretching the arms overhead and arching your back sitting in a chair. Actually, all movements can be performed seated except traction. Twist in a chair. Side bend in a chair. One basic way to encourage traction is getting out of the chair and lying flat on your back for a few moments. Rather then bending forward in the chair trying to touch your toes, round your upper back and relax your head. (See 2nd image below.)
*BE CAREFUL FLEXING THE LOW BACK. THIS IS HOW DISCS GET HERNIATED.*
Backbending is a vulnerable position. Arms are open and you're leaning into a space you can't fully visually confirm. That's scary.
Backbending is one of those rare instances where our instinct lead us in entirely the wrong direction. As a teacher, more of then not, students with back problems are extremely nervous about backbending. Contrary to popular belief, forward folding (flexion) is one of the most precarious movements for low back. When the low back feels uncomfortable, people's typical response is to hang forward. The opposite is true in both of these circumstances: we create space for the discs through backbending.
Take a look at this image.
3. The Next Steps
These are the movements that healed me. Some of these are more "extreme" than others. There's no benefit in skipping steps- work to your capacity and integrate more pieces as they become available to you.
I can't say this enough: YES, YOU CAN. The above printout is available in PDF form by clicking the image. If you would like more information, or are interested in working with me directly to start putting the pieces back together, I am available for 1-1 lessons online via skype, etc. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.
I wish you so much luck on your road to recover. Do good, be well. And don't be afraid of breaking your heart wide open.
As an American, 4th of July has become absorbed into my cells to represent a day of freedom. As an expat, this is often a complicated idea as the States become increasingly involved in and the catalyst for much of the conflict and subsequent diminishing freedom experienced around the world.
Holidays and their assumed significance are a choice. My favorite is Valentine's Day- a "fake holiday" to most, but one I look forward to year after year. My least favorite, Christmas- the one day where American 24 hour culture actually takes a break.
Though often perverted in its use, freedom is an important idea that applies to more than geographical and idealogical boundaries. My friend, Lucie, a yoga teacher and body worker, asked her student, "Have you ever thought of your body as a temple rather than a prison?"
Yoga has been the key to unlocking freedom to be in the skin I'm in. This starts on a literal level- freedom of movement. That enable freedom to experience- sports, the ocean, sketchy staircases leading to the best views. Ultimately, freedom of mind. Yoga is defined as equanimity- calm under duress. There is a freedom from worry, from fear, from the unknown, that I have cultivated in my years on the mat. Freedom in the body enables freedom in the mind. These are not separate, but symbiotic.
This 4th of July, American or not, we can make use of the reminder to invite freedom into our lives. The path to freedom is not always comfortable (insert Shawshank scene here!) or easy, but the feeling is nothing less than delicious.
Please join me in inviting some freedom into your body through the very adaptable practice of Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga. Regardless of what constrains you- bad knees, a bad back, a sticky shoulder- this practice is merely a framework- with my guidance we will find a way to make it your own.
I feel very locked into this identity that I'm not a dancer. Fortunately, the outside world isn't always privy to our insecurities. I was contacted by a friend, Amy Kathleen, part of the duo, Bathing Belles, who was on a short trip back to the Bu and interested in collaborating on a music video for their song, "The Hunger." The timing was serendipitous as I had just begun training with my AcroYoga partner, Inkyu, again after nearly a year hiatus due to my travels and his new freelance work. Personally, I was in a space that needed the structure of a project, even better a physical one that was on quite a tight timeline.
There's always a lot of ego coupled with insecurity- can we still do it? Bigger! Harder! Better stunts! The song was delivered to us via voice memo with little more than the sparse accompaniment of a ukelele reminiscent of a music box. The song was subtle, uncomplicated- and it informed our movements to reflect the same.
I am so incredibly humbled by the talented people in my world and lucky to have their light spark my own inspiration. Thank you for the opportunity, the encouragement and, of course more than anything, the actual grind- staying patient take after take as we battled chicken delivery scooters, drivers with quite pressing agendas and drunken youth.
Thanks to Simon for being extra hands on deck, my partner Inkyu for his never-ending patience with me and willingness to try whatever hair-brained shape comes to mind that I believe is possible. Thank you to Jess + Amy for your beautiful partnership and the inspired fruits of that love, and inviting me into the collaboration. What's come of it speaks to the unpolished charm of Busan, the magic of creating something out of nothing, and of the beauty of love and longing.
Behind the Scenes | Photos by Simon Kang
What T h e H e a r t / B r e a k T o u r Means to Me
2018 felt like pulling the wrong item off a shelf in a warehouse- Jenga style. And they all came tumbling down. I was overwhelmed. Let me start there. It wasn't devastating tragedy, just a series of heartbreaking events that seemed undending- at least through my immediate lens. I didn't know where to begin.
And then I was empowered by a late night podcast listen. Heartbreak is truth. Heartbreak is pure. Heartbreak is defenselessness. Heartbreak is your heart breaking open ready to take in what it was unwilling or unable to accept before.
My last tour was in 2016. 2017 was about stillness, slowness, being present, filling up my heart before breaking it open and letting it flow over in 2018. I'm taking all that chaos of the turn of the year and channelling it into this tour. Making my way to places both new and familiar, I will be sharing these transformational experiences from both on and off the mat.
T h e H e a r t / B r e a k T o u r 's theme is manifested through one particular workshop | Therapeutic Backbending. These gets at "heart" of suffering- going into the pain and rebuilding a stronger model- physcially, mentally, emotionally. I have an extremely personal connection to my Backbending workshop. I both broke and healed myself with yoga. After 10 years of suffering chronic low back pain, I began to think yoga was no answer at all for this problem; nor were the plethora of teachers over that decade that tried explaining away the pain with, "Your core is weak." It wasn't. I wasn't.
This workshop is my personal remedy- first for the body, but anyone who's reckoned with chronic pain know it's so much more than skin and bones deep. It got into my soul. I couldn't see myself as anything but broken- "less than"- for too many years. This is not to say a sequence is a magic pill. I must stay mindful of my movements every day, most specifically in my asana practice. However, I can say without any hesitation that I have been pain free for the past five years. This practice was the advent of a new era in my skin, in my yoga, in my life. I really feel this is my best work. Beautiful shapes are great, but the true power of yoga is in its ability to help us live freely in our bodies without suffering.
The Track List
This is the sequence that will be breaking open hearts and taking names on this tour. Some classics, some fresh remixes. I think of this like giving you a chance to learn the songs before seeing the live show. Join me to take this step by step and surprise yourself with what's possible.
It is an honor and a blessing to not only be sharing my experience but that this tour is unto itself part of the process. Please join me on this journey.
Taking the long way around starting the end of April.
T h e H e a r t / B r e a k T o u r 2018 (more dates tba)
Click links to learn event details.
Come join us in Busan for an intensive weekend where we're working on drills and skills for acro and beyond!
We're going to the beach and the park! Camp will be spent both in studio and outside. (Weather permitting!)
Camp will consist of AcroYoga technique, conditioning and community building!
Saturday OCT 1 : AcroYoga Fundamentals = 5hrs + 2hrs jam
Skills covered include :
L-basing and back bending (folded leaf, bird, back flying (bird, plank), Upside Down and All Around: Inversions and Star
5~7: Jam! (open to all camp participants!)
Oct 2,3: Intermediate = 15hrs
Sunday 10.2: 10~7pm 'Spin Cycle!' (8hrs)
Monday 10.3: 9~5pm 'Keep Rollin’ (7hrs)
Skills covered include :
Handstand Club, Acro Conditioning, H2H basics: Tuck sit, F2H
Acro Backbending: waterfall, fall in love, Catherine’s Wheel
***Prerequisites for Intermediate program:
Acro Camp Day 1 Fundamentals OR
Be familiar and comfortable with the following:
basing AND flying Folded Leaf
basing AND flying Bird
base OR fly: Star
Wild Thing (camatkarasana) R+ L OR full wheel (urdhva dhanurasana)
30 sec reverse table or upward plank
handstand at the wall (either belly or back)
Please be mindful of injuries (particularly wrist and shoulder.) This intensive schedule is much more demanding than a 1hr class and can aggrivate injuries putting you and others at risk. Please exercise caution and care!
Full Program 20hrs of instruction : 290/ 230 (Early Bird DC)
Intermediate Camp (Sunday + Monday): 250/200
Acro Fundamentals (Saturday only): 80/60 (EB)
*TTC students :
Intermediate Camp 140
Full Program 170 (must be paid by EB)
EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT!
RSVP and pay by Saturday, Sep10 and save 60,000w!!!
bank transfer to Busan Bank # 112-2057-1302-01 (Yum Mee Ok)
From out of town? Let me know and I will put you in touch with others coming from out of town. There are many great deals on AirBnB for larger groups!
Sun protection gear (hats, long-sleeves as needed)
It will be sweaty- gloves (bicycle gloves or taxi driver style gloves available at convenience stores)
Mat or larger towel for outside (it will get dirty!)
An outfit you would like yoga photos in (taken on the beach)
Your energy and enthusiasm!!!
Through a series of very fortunate events, I was able to spend the entire month of March with two dear friends, former yoga students and out of this world award-winning filmmakers: Tess and Thom of Tiny Town Media.
Tess came to my studio a couple of years ago after taking a sabbatical from her pressure cooker life in the film industry to travel and restore some sense of balance. Thom was still working distance on the web series, Guidestones. It was actually during their time with me in Korea Thom won his Emmy for excellence in editing for said project. Yes, an EMMY!
It was hard to see them go but the world is round and I knew our paths would make their way in time. Since their time in Korea, Tess and Thom founded Tiny Town Media, a video production company based in east coast Canada focusing on small town, personal, character-driven stories through both narrative fiction and documentary. Work and family had taken them England; and that's where best laid plans began to shift. As they say: life is what happens when you're making other plans. Lucky for me, with their newly unscripted planner, my Mexican retreat in the works and another friend further south, they made their way to Tulum.
I needed to capitalize on the golden gem that had fallen into my lap: we got to work.
No two people are more talented at crafting a story full of heart, expression, and emotion through both still and moving pictures than Tess and Thom. Sure, many people can paint pretty pictures. Others have the digital game down pat. Tess and Thom are the purest listeners I've met. Not only in work; it is what drives them. They have a sincere curiosity that brings them into the heart of a story. This sense compels their travel and interactions with local members of whatever community they temporarily join.
This is more than a cliche travel technique. This is how they approached my sister, my best friend's husband, the cenote kids, the local coconut vendor, the women of the retreat and me both as a client and a friend.
They produced three stunning videos: Diafano, spotlighting AcroYoga, Elucidate, a keepsake and overview of the week-long retreat, and Buscando Lugar, a highlight reel of yours truly.
Working with T & T was the perfect mix of working with a friend and top notch professional. They took my piecemeal wishlist ("I want to look hot, and strong, and interesting, and sincere....blah....blah...blah....") and crafted a visual narrative with depth and heart. It was my story but with elevated vocabulary and technique. During the shoot, they kept me comfortable (as one can be standing on one leg in the hot Mexican sun) and pretty (as one can be melting the hot Mexican sun) and knew how to talk me into giving them what I would want to see. And it was nothing like I could've ever imagined.
Thank you so much for all of the work, Tess and Thom. You are as talented as you are hardworking. This work far superceded like or dislike: I feel each and everyone of these vignettes.
Let Tess and Thom Tell Your Story!
Promote your work as a yoga teacher, musician, etc, let them capture your wedding memories, your festival, event... they can do it all!!! Check out their latest work, Coastal Stories and other projects.
AcroYoga is an ongoing mental and physical exploration and collaboration. Our first time working together in nearly half a year, AcroYoga isn't like riding a bike. We continue to develop from minute to minute, and coming into partnership requires continuous calibration and care. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't. And every now and again, there is there that perfect synchronicity: being in the moment together.
This is my favorite place in the whole world and I was determine to share my loves: yoga and Tulum with others. Thank you everyone that make Elucidate so magical! I'm looking forward to doing it again, February, 2017!!!
When we started shooting, I was looking for a glory reel. I wanted to look pretty doing pretty things in a pretty place. Watching this, Tess and Thom captured a longing, a searching, for a place where I felt connected that I didn't realize I was seeking until far into this process. Thank you for capturing this part of the journey. Your insight is nothing less than brilliant.
Behind the Scenes!
Tulum has magical powers. More than white sand beaches and avocados for days, Tulum is a very unique destination. Located in the Riviera Maya, the place pulses with the energy of ancient civilizations that first cultivated this land and the modern communities that continue to give it life.
Elucidate: to make clear, illuminate, clarify, unravel.
It was my vision to impart this experience through the medium of yoga. I questioned: how do our experiences and surroundings lead us to greater understanding of the micro and macro?
The retreat featured an absolute powerhouse of talent:
I cannot thank you enough Tiny Town Media for your exceptional talent and work ethic to provide us with these images that never fail to call us back to this incredible experience.
Most importantly, thank you to Gerri, Mary Ruth, Cheryl and Shannon for their adventurous spirit, open mindedness, and humor. Thank you for taking this journey with us! We can't wait to do it again!
While Mindy's away, the AcroYogis will play! Kaizen is very excited to welcome Luka Agres as a guest teacher for the month of March! Luka has extensive training in AcroYoga and Thai Massage. Originally from Croatia, he is constantly criss-crossing the globe spending his time training and teaching the movement arts he loves.
Luka has completed both level I and II with AcroYoga.org and the Partner Acrobatics teacher training. Luka will be sharing his wealth of knowledge during weekly yoga and AcroYoga classes. He is offering a very special 4-week course: Thai & Fly. Here students will gain a foundation on therapeutic arts, both in the air and on the ground.
This is wonderful opportunity for the Kaizen community to have Luka teaching with us over the entire month of March. During that time, he will also be available for 1-1 Thai Massage appointments and advanced AcroYoga private lessons. Interested students may contact him directly. For more on Luka's experience and training drop by his site! Don't miss out on all the great classes with him in March!
It was yoga that broke me. I went for a bind my first year of practice trying to win a "bind-off" against the girl next to me that was happening entirely in my head. Mine alone. Then POP. I did nearly irreparable damage to my back that stills require ongoing management 12 years later.
What I needed in yoga more than anything, was to feel together rather than against. This need grew proportionately with my time practicing- both as a teacher and a student. Partner-focused practice has radically transformed my classes, my students and me. Over time playing with AcroYoga, I saw the impact of people being interdependent in class rather than a group of individuals doing personal practice side-by-side. Yoga in its highest form is union. In other forms, we sweat. We laugh. We struggle. We bend. We break. On a good day, yoga gives us the gusto to try. On a great day, it gives us the moxie to stare in the face of both the sweet and the sour. On the best days, we grow wings to rise above all the destruction compounding around us and find something beautiful beyond. Acroyoga goes even further yoking the dynamism and delicacy of individuals together and says: don't just find something beautiful; create something beautiful by putting the pieces together. It comes together. We come together. And we realize, we are better together.
It is in this spirit that I have developed Kaizen's AcroYoga Architects Program (AA). It aims to pull back from AcroYoga as spectacle and use its fundamentals as tool for building and connecting communities: across experiential, linguistic and cultural boundaries.
AA starts with the base of yoga. My "Kaizen Yoga" is far from my own. It is a practice influenced by many teachers over the years focused on applying yoga therapeutically: be that application physical, mental or emotional. From there, AA integrates AcroYoga principles of community building, cooperative learning with an emphasis on physical feedback and exploring movement beyond the confines of traditional yoga practice. Finally, we use this collaboration to start impacting our smaller individual communities. This impact may be specifically AcroYoga focused or may take the principles of empowerment and connection and apply them in a way we never imagined possible!
I am very proud to announce that this program has been reviewed by the powers that be at AcroYoga Montreal: my teachers, mentors and inspirations Jessie, Eugene, Jill and Heidi. Through some edits and follow-up clarifications, this program was granted approval by AYM and will be its first affiliated preparation program. This part is particularly significant for me. Rather than mailing off a syllabus of hours to an organization that doesn't know me from Adam, I carry the weight of representing myself with integrity to AYM whose opinion I hold in high esteem and whose reputation I'm responsible for upholding in the face of prospective students. This is a responsibility I take to heart.
I look forward to seeing and promoting the continued growth and development of AcroYoga both here in Korea and beyond wherever the Architects may take it!
Elucidate: to make lucid or clear
Why do we retreat? In other words: is it the act of withdrawal? Is it retreat in the sense of surrender?
a. The act or process of moving back or away, especially from something hazardous, formidable, or unpleasant
b. Withdrawal of a military force from a dangerous position or from an enemy attack.
c. The process of receding from a position or of becoming smaller
d. The process of changing or undergoing change in one's thinking or in a position
This retreat is far from an escape. Through this six-day exploration, we will elucidate: make lucid or clear. This time serves as an illumination and an integration.
This program aims to integrate movement with stillness, interaction with introspection, playfulness with sincerity.
Tulum, Mexico is nothing short of heaven on earth. The life there is palpable. Beyond the obvious beauty of the white sand beaches, there is something visceral about being in place where one of the world’s first civilizations began.
Over six days, we will play, pose, sweat, serve, celebrate, experience and elucidate. Far too often there is a separation of “America-lite Mexico” and “local Mexico.” Why do we travel if to retreat into the comfort of doing what we’ve always done? This “retreat” is an exploration of what is beyond our comfort zones: physically, mentally, spiritually, geographically, culturally, socio-economically, gastronomically, and more. There are plenty of opportunities to take in the splendor of the Mayan Riviera visiting its various white sand beaches. Dinner will be another opportunity to explore local cuisine and support local businesses rather than opting for an all-inclusive nondescript menu. Participants will have a chance to take a cooking class and perform Karma Yoga as part of the experience.
Daily Schedule (subject to change)
Rise and Shine yoga | breakfast | yoga master class | lunch | beach time and exploration! | Sunset Slow Flow yoga | dinner
Activities include: day trip to Chichen Itza, Coba, Akumel Beach (home of the Turtle Sanctuary)
Additional activities include yoga photos, cooking class, and a night out!
Full details on master classes as part of the retreat available above.
In an effort to make this accessible across all price points/sleeping arrangements, accommodations are not included, but as Mindy has people on the ground and is familiar with the area, she will assist with organizing a place that fits your needs.
Cost of full 6-day program includes:
Airport shuttle from Cancun to Tulum r/t
daily transportation between studio, the beach, pueblo (town), tours
entrance fees at Chichen Itza
transportation and tour of historical and local sites
3x yoga classes/day (non-excursion days)
language support, assistance with accommodations, general trouble-shooting
Yoga photo session in various scenic locations (photos by Mindy/ www.iwritelight.net)
Ready to join us in paradise? Great! Contact Andrea Franz Parks from Toula Yoga at email@example.com