To some giving may be helping a friend or family member out. To others it could be volunteering your time to the less fortunate. For some giving may have to be thought about and not automatic. Today, I was able to see the purest form of giving by Acro Yoga Specialist Chris Loebsack. www.chrisloebsackyoga.com
Chris guided the Lehigh Valley Yoga crowd through a 2 and a half hour workshop of acceptance, giving, and embrace. She shared with all of us her passion for Acro Yoga and her soul for movement. She guided us like a mother figure through transformational postures and exercises to break down barriers that some of us may have been holding. We learned within the first minutes of class that love needed to be present not only towards our partners but most importantly towards ourselves. I felt many break through moments in this workshop and am very grateful that Lehigh Valley Yoga allowed me to come into their wonderful facility to reflect on Chris Loebsack’s workshop to share with Yoga Stage and the whole yoga community! www.lvyoga.com
We came together in the beginning of the workshop in a circle formation to share half lotus and breath. With our knees touching our breath became more present due to human contact and awareness to each others’ energy pulses. With time we were given the floor to introduce ourselves personally and connect with the class with our own given talents. I find this introduction process fabulous because it sets the tone of acceptance immediately. You are allowed to speak who you are to the class and to Chris. She is then able to guide you throughout class on your own needs. Everyone was from different backgrounds whether it is yogis practicing for fun, yogis further educating themselves in Acro Yoga, or even artistic individuals such as a dancer/musician/and visual artist coming for creative energy. Chris took in all the varying levels and molded us together as one. We all learned from each other. We all accepted each other. We all gave our hearts to one another. This is the beautiful element of Acro Yoga and Chris highlighted it in all of her class work.
We then were broken into a trio group to work on a partnering warm -up exercise for the body. It was amazing how using others peoples body weight created such a joyous heat in the muscles throughout the hips, lower back, and abdominal core region. The trio stood together as if they were peaks of a triangle with our bodies facing in towards each other. We then raised our arms to meet above our heads and joined palms in a V formation to share in a counter body weight experience. While finding the weight exchange through the hands, Chris guided us with her voice in lifting one leg into tree posture. As our trees presented themselves we all felt secure in releasing our upper bodies into a slight back bend release to share our hearts to our trio group. The hands replaced themselves from above our heads at this time to the back of each others’ shoulders to help release the back into an upper release and some improvisational work in windy tree. After gaining trust and creating appropriate heat in the body we moved into binding legs and feet into each others’ hip points and experienced straddle chest expansion with a giving exchange of weight through our hand and palm embraces. The trio then dived into assisted back bend releases over each others’ thighs and legs while in straddle. The warm up experience reminded me so much of contact improvisational work in modern dance. Yet, there was more of a giving exchange from each others’ hearts immediately. There was a giving to your trio partnership and then a further giving to the group surrounding us all. After the warm-up everyone caught a glance of a new person in class. There were many smiles exchanged at this time. You could just feel the warm energy and bodies craving the Acro Yoga experience.
Chris connected us with different individuals throughout the whole workshop by giving us different groups to work with. This challenges the mind and spirit to be more open to everyone around you. The other wonderful aspect in this is the fact that you learn to be a base in one situation and a flyer in another. A year back when I took my first workshop with Chris I was afraid to fly. Even with only being 5’3, I struggled with the release. I was blocking my freedom to fly with fears. Maybe it was the fear of falling. But, it was deeper than that. There was fear of not being in control. Acro Yoga eliminates control and allows you to collaborate to the fullest. The first workshop I was challenged to only release my body in flight in a basic flight element in acro yoga similar to superwomen or superman flying on another person’s feet.
My second workshop was different. My fears released immediately in Chris’s presence. She sensed my barriers and was able to push me in a nurturing way through them all. I was challenged this workshop as everyone else to sit in a throne seated posture, plank stack on another body, tripod headstand release into backbend, and star posture. Chris had me flying like never before. It was amazing as if I was walking back into childhood or as if I was one of my children of 4 or 6 years of age at play. I look forward to taking all the elements of this Acro Yoga workshop and building on the foundation in active play with other yogis and even my own children at times. Chris opened my heart even more to the world of Acro Yoga and to exploring all its endless possibilities.
Thai massage brought closure to the workshop. Chris partnered us up with one other individual and guided us with her voice on proper techniques of Thai massage release. The giving and receiving was felt tremendously at this time due to the acceptance of human touch. Barriers were broken, a release was felt, and heat, energy, and a sense of renewal was present in all of us. Chatting of an Acro Yoga community in the Lehigh Valley was spoken of. Many thanks verbally and non- verbally were shared amongst everyone attending the workshop. A true sense of acceptance, promise, and community was felt by the end of the workshop.
I have been very blessed in my past studies on the west coast, east coast, and especially in NYC to be given wonderful teachers in dance and yoga. In all of my travels, I have been able to find a place of community. About three years ago, I relocated to the Lehigh Valley from NYC area and have been struggling with finding the right community of yogis to mingle with. I have developed my own communities through my own companies Movement for You and Artists in Unity since a true fulfillment could not be found. www.movementforyou.com and www.artistsinunity.com
I share this with you all because Lehigh Valley Yoga welcomed me into their presence with open arms during this workshop with Chris Loebsack. Jacque Porterfield owner/educator at Lehigh Valley Yoga was thrilled to have me in the workshop to share how she is bringing Acro Yoga to the Lehigh Valley Community. It is wonderful to see an owner taking steps to bringing new and innovative techniques of yoga into her school. Jacque was present in the Acro Yoga workshop and shared her soul as much as the rest of us. Jacque is constantly striving to educate herself further in different practices of yoga. I was truly honored to cover this workshop at Lehigh Valley Yoga. Thank you for your warm welcome into your community of yogis.
I look forward to connecting more with Lehigh Valley Yoga in the future and bringing Yoga Stage (www.yogastage.com) more developments in yoga workshops/practices/and teachers in the Lehigh Valley and beyond. Hopefully, with time and more outreach through writing the Lehigh Valley can be placed on the map as a yogi hub. Thank you to Chris Loebsack and Jacque Porterfield for dedicating their work to further educating individuals in the Lehigh Valley in Acro Yoga.
This blog is written and created by Lindsay Schaefer. For more information on Movement for You, A Way of Life Practice or Artists in Unity please visit the following sites.
Lindsay Schaefer has been performing and teaching professionally throughout the U.S. After completion of her BA in Dance from Point Park College, Lindsay taught and directed a high school dance program in Arizona and performed with Arizona Movement Source Company in Phoenix, Arizona. Furthering her dance training and performing opportunities she headed to New York City to study with Paul Taylor Dance Company and Taylor II and performed with various modern dance companies and independent artists throughout N.Y.C. Lindsay was co-artistic director of NY Dance Collective and Odonata Dance Project. Her choreography has been performed at Cunningham Studio, Wax, St. Marks Church, 92nd Street Y, and SUNY Purchase. She also directed a recreational dance program for Chelsea Piers and taught at P.S. 163 outreach program in Manhattan. In connection with her dance training, she trained in gymnastics and completed her yoga certification through YogaFit. With her extensive study in Yoga and Pilates, Lindsay has had the opportunity to teach independently throughout Manhattan. She is currently teaching Yoga, Pilates, and Dance independently in PA, NJ and NY. She is the creator of Movement for You, A Way of Life Practice and founder and collaborator of Artists in Unity. Lindsay is excited to be working as a delegate/writer for Yoga Stage as of November 2011.