Allowah: Aloha, Angel! Wouldn't it be fun to write this article on
Flying Yoga as if we were flying together?
Angel: Yes! It sure would, Allowah, let's fly!
I have some things to share about the benefits of Flying Yoga,
would you like to share what you know of the history of Flying Yoga?
Allowah: Yes, thank you! So here we go, ready for lift off?
Angel : Always!
Allowah: I know! Well, then…Here's a typical response I get
when I bring up the subject of "Flying Yoga" with people:
"Oh, I do that with my kids all the time, they love it!"
You know, I kind of think that if we want to look for the origin
of this form of yoga, we need look no further, because
it probably started as just a natural expression of love between parent and child.
Angel: Yes, that's so interesting, it does feel
so light and playful, like being a child again!
Allowah: It does, doesn't it! My father used to do this with me all the time
when I was just a little guy, and he had no clue about yoga!
My dad didn't know, for instance, that the legendary,
TVK Krishnamacharya used to practice this form of yoga with his
young students in the '30s
and no doubt due to Krishnamacharya's profound influence on modern yoga,
it became more widely known and practiced.
Krishnamacharya seems to have had a bit of a circus going
in the early days of his Yoga ministry. As I understand it, the purpose was to
catch the attention of those who were skeptical about the
practical applications of Yoga and attract them to his work.
It probably goes much further back as there's nothing new under the sun!
Krishnamacharya himself might have borrowed some of these movements
from other traditions as well, such as
circus acrobatics, gymnastics, European systems of body building, etc.
(For a nice exploration of how this borrowing happened,
see "Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice" by Mark Singleton.)
Krishnamacharya with his Students in the 1930s
Angel: Hmmm, it could be very ancient then..…
Allowah: Right! Like all of us, perhaps, it's been around!
Angel: Allowah, I know you've been doing Yoga for
almost 20 years…How did you first hear about it?
Allowah: My own introduction to this form of yoga came in the late '90s
on the University of Pennsylvania campus when the now internationally-known
yoga teacher Simon Park put me up on his feet into a deep backbend.
About 7 or 8 years later I began to hear about this thing called "Acroyoga,"
yet didn't know much about it or feel called to look into it further.
It was only in about 2009-2010 that I seriously began to practice this form of yoga
myself, at which point pondering why it took so long to get into it!
Angel: Very interesting! You do look like you've been doing it much longer...
Allowah: Well, my solo Hatha Yoga practice certainly prepared me very well for it!
So how and when did you start Yoga, Angel?
Angel: I had the astronomical blessing of learning Integral Yoga directly
from the highly revered & deeply loved Yoga Master,
His Holiness Reverend Sri Swami Satchidananda
from the age of 16.
Integral Yoga is a complete science for optimal wellbeing & self~ realization.
It is a perfect recipe for gliding into the Bliss of one’s own true nature
in & of itself!
Then a few years ago, I discovered Flying Yoga.
Allowah: How does Flying Yoga differ from Integral Yoga?
Angel: Flying Yoga utilizes all the same principles that
I learned & have taught for many years in
Integral Yoga however it involves practicing with a partner.
Allowah: What are the benefits of practicing with a partner?
Angel: Partner Yoga brings a whole new set of dynamics into play.
In Partner Yoga you can use the weight & leverage of your
partner to enhance your stretch, strength, balance & bliss!
It involves listening not only to your own body temple
but also to the body temple of your partner.
It involves communication & teamwork. It sparks creativity & synergy!
Angel: So Allowah, if this form of yoga has been around for so long,
why is it that it just now seems to be becoming so popular?
Allowah: It just had no separate identity of its own.
Whenever we put a name and a system to something, it tends to bring more awareness to it.
As we have seen, the current trend/craze which is most widely known
as "AcroYoga" has its antecedents. Jenny Klein and Jason Nemer,
the founders of "Acroyoga," systematized and put a name on an already
somewhat identifiable form that goes back many years.
Interestingly, before Jenny and Jason, there was at least one other school
that was teaching this form of Yoga -- Jessie Golderg and Eugene Poku's
"Acroyoga Montreal." That was in 2001, a good 5 years before Jason and Jenny
formed "Acroyoga, Inc" in 2006.
Once these schools formed and began certifying students to teach Acroyoga,
awareness just grew and grew from there -- no doubt this was also because
it is such a fun and useful way of doing yoga, and provides something which
so many of us are wanting more in our lives -- human touch and connection!
Angel: Yes! That's so important!
Allowah : We both first learned this form of Yoga by the name of "Flying Yoga."
Also, interestingly enough, I recently learned that one of my favorite teachers,
Sri Dharma Mittra in New York City, has taught it for years
using the name "Flying Yoga."
Angel: And it doesn't have to be so acrobatic, either!
Most anyone can do it with proper instruction.
Allowah: Right! It can be done therapeutically, too, like a form of massage therapy.
Speaking of which, you were going to share with us some of the many benefits
of this form of Yoga, Angel?
Angel: Oh, yes… Well, first of all, Flying Yoga offers the many benefits
of Hatha Yoga which include improving the health of the internal organs,
nerves, glands, muscle tone, flexibility & inner calm. Like Hatha Yoga, it also boosts the
immune system, reduces stress, helps to alleviate depression and anxiety,
and just makes you feel better overall!
Yet Flying Yoga includes the additional benefits of touch, team work,
good communication (both verbal & nonverbal),
and usually a deeper stretch than you could achieve on your own.
Allowah: Definitely! In the hands of a skilled Base,
a Flyer will sometimes find themselves doing things they never
thought they could do otherwise -- especially when a Spotter is assisting!
Angel: Yes! And, it would be good to explain what is meant
by Base, Flyer, and Spotter for those who may be new to this…
Allowah: Of course, please…
Angel: There are three primary roles in an
Acro/Flying Yoga practice: Base, Flyer, and Spotter.
Base - This is the Yogi/Yogini who has the most points of contact with the ground.
Often this person is lying on the ground with the entire
back torso in full contact with the mat or earth. This enables both the
arms and legs to be "bone-stacked" for maximum stability and support of the Flyer.
Main points of contact with the flyer are the feet which are generally
placed on the Flyer's hips or stomach and the hands which
either form handholds or grasp the shoulders.
Flyer - This is the Yogi/Yogini who is elevated off the ground by the Base.
The Flyer can move into a series of dynamic positions, and generally lets
gravity do most of the work for them.
A Flyer needs balance, alignment, core strength & trust.
Spotter - Thisis the Yogi /Yogini who has an objective view
of the partners, and whose entire focus is on making sure that
the Flyer lands safely in case of any slips.
The spotter can also make recommendations to the
Base and Flyer to improve their form.
Allowah: Good stuff. So does the Base get a workout, too,
or does the Flyer just have all the fun?
Angel: Funny you should ask me that, because you are always flying me!
So what do you say, Sri Base-Anandaji?
Allowah: [Sporting Indian Accent]. Oh yes, it is very good practice
for strengthening, focusing, listening, and will power!
And sometimes learning to be soft like pillow for hard landing!
[Much Hysterical Laughter]
Allowah: So Angel, what do you especially love about being a Flyer?
Angel: When you press your feet into my sacrum, which is sacred
because that is where the kundalini energy is stored,
symbolized as a coiled snake, it creates a gentle heat.
Wherever pressure is applied, it brings blood,
which brings oxygen which brings prana,
the vital life force energy to that area.
This helps to kindle up the kundalini energy
to spiral up the spine to illuminate the higher centers of consciousness.
When the Shakti energy from the base of the spine
spirals up to the crown chakra at the top of the head
it unites with the Siva energy which causes the Amrita
or Divine nectar to be released. This can be experienced as an
endorphin shower of bliss. Hence I refer to Flying Yoga as "The Yoga of Bliss.
" This bliss, of course, can also be experienced in solo yoga
through diligent & consistent practice of Yoga & Meditation
combined with ethical living including a compassionate vegan diet.
Bliss is our very own true nature. What works to access it may
vary from person to person. I have found that flying Yoga
simply expedites & amplifies the process.
Perhaps this has something to do with the Biblical statement,
“When two are more are gathered in His name.”
The Bliss does not end when the feet reach the ground~
there it is integrated into everyday life. I find from the practice of Integral Yoga,
Flying Yoga or any Yoga that I become more present, mindful, centered & peaceful.
This state of consciousness is then brought into whatever activity is
at hand whether it be preparing a meal, washing the dishes, making a bed,
driving my Angelmobile etc.. When I am more present I recognize that everything I
am doing is partner yoga as I am in partnership with everyone & everything
that I am interacting with including myself! I notice that
I am doing partner Yoga with the other drivers on the road~~~
& all roads lead to bliss sooner or later.
Allowah: Wow, that's deep, it clearly has had a wonderful affect on your life...
Angel: It really has! I love it so much and would do it
every day if I only could (hint hint ).
Allowah: I get the hint! But what about those who are new to this practice?
What do you recommend for them to get started?
Angel: Yes, here are some good tips for beginners…
~ First set your intention to make safety your first priority
which is Ahimsa. Ahimsa is the first yama in the Yoga Sutras which means non-injury.
~ Begin by doing solo Yoga to get in touch with your own mind, body spirit.
~ Before beginning your Flying Yoga practice, make eye contact
with your partner & behold the immortal self or Atman in this person.
That means to look beyond their physical appearance, personality,
cultural conditioning etc & look right into the pure Spirit
that abides in that Body Temple.
~ Then synchronize your breathing by taking at least 3 deep breaths together.
~ Then begin Partner Yoga gently & safely with a Partner & Spotter.
~ Then the Base can place his or her feet on the abdomen
of the flyer & gently raise her/him up to the first pose
which is called the bird or falcon. (Show Photo)
~ After this, the Base can bring their feet into the Flyer's
hip creases for "Folded Leaf" and a little massage, which feels so blissful!
~ Finally, the Base can set the Flyer down for a soft landing,
after which the Flyer can offer the Base a bit of Thai Massage,
especially for the legs. This is a good start!
Allowah: Yes, and there are so many classes and "playshops"
available these days, probably near you, dear reader!
Angel: That's right, Allowah! And we invite you to come & do
a Program with us in Paradise!
So, Allowah, don't you think it's about that time…?
Allowah: For what?
Angel: Let’s Fly!
Allowah: Yes, Angel! And we'll see you all later somewhere (where? --
up in the air!) In the meantime, please enjoy this video that Angel
and I put together for your viewing pleasure