Amy-Louise Brassington is soaring over Inkyu Jung, spinning around in circles, twisting up and down as if in a washing machine. Her head drops down, nearly crashing into his knees; her feet fly upwards towards the sky. Suddenly, their hands push against each other for stability and she looks down at him, locking eyes, his feet supporting her hips. In acroyoga, this is called the ‘barrel roll.’ It’s both terrifying and enthralling to watch.
Acroyoga, a form of movement combining yoga and acrobatics, has taken off on the Peninsula over the past two years. It was initially introduced to Busan yogis during Yoga Festa in 2013, and, shortly after that, it became a staple class at Kaizen, a yoga and strength-training studio in KSU.
The practice of acroyoga typically features three primary roles: a base, who supports from a position on the ground; a flyer, who’s usually in the air, balancing on the base; and a spotter, who stands closely by to help move the other two into position and catch a falling flyer. Acroyogis, sometimes referred to as ‘birds,’ rotate through the roles during a practice – despite the occasional discrepancy in size among team members.
Mindy Sisco, co-owner of Kaizen, says that expectations about the body shapes and sizes of a typical acro team are being thrown out the window in Busan.
“Fortunately, our community’s really good about moving away from these established roles of big, strong male bases and tiny little female flyers,” Sisco says. “I think those traditional definitions aren’t necessarily applicable. There’s something really empowering about somebody feeling weightless. I mean, we live in a world where people in general are very conscious of their size. [Acroyoga] kind of takes that and makes people reassess that. I think having a 250-pound guy upside down on your feet – he’s definitely revisiting his ideas of self.”
Brassington, who started taking acro classes last year, says, “I think a lot of people’s initial reactions when I tell them to try it is that they could never do that … because they believe they are too big to fly or not strong enough to base. But acroyoga really is for anyone.”
Acro brings together not only all physical forms of people but also those with a variety of backgrounds and nationalities who come to take part – with little talking required. Working with groups and partners can move the focus of a practice from the self and into more of a trusting, team-building form of movement.
Sisco says, “I think it’s really cool with acro how there’s a nonverbal communication that’s happening. There’s a physical response. There’s this interplay that’s happening between two people.”
Simon Kang, Sisco’s business partner at Kaizen, has a background in Brazilian jiujitsu. He says acroyoga is similar to martial arts, but the views he previously held of teamwork and trust have completely changed since starting acro.
“Martial arts is technically, ‘we are friends; we’re the same team,’ but the thing is always and only: try to kill each other. This – acroyoga – it changed my perspective with relationships,” he says.
It seems everyone discovering acroyoga has learned to embrace this unique form of movement.
“It’s so simple,” says Sisco, “but we don’t move, and we’re so scared to dance … we’re so scared of our movements. Acro gives you the space to move. You’re given this freedom to be inside your own skin.”
“You just have to let go,” says Kara Bemis, acro enthusiast and local yoga teacher. “It depends on how much I trust the base, but usually it’s playful and fun.”
For those interested in acroyoga, Bemis says, “I would definitely take a class, not just try it from YouTube tutorials – because it can be dangerous. You don’t want to land on your tooth or something. Learn from someone who knows. And always have a spotter.”
Photos by Kaizen and Nina Staer Nathan
The Latest Haps
The amount of the food allowance in the Kim Young-ran law may be altered from March in order to help domestic demand.
A South Korean man who was reportedly kidnapped in the Philippines in 2016 was recently found dead by local authorities there.
This Friday, January 20th, at HQ Bar KSU sees the return of the monthly Ha Ha Hole, Busan’s only live English comedy show.
Legendary K-pop boy band Shinwha is performing a concert in Busan on February 11th as part of their “Unchanging” tour.
The Busan International Film Festival will begin a little later than usual this year because of the Chuseok holidays.
Are you wondering where the cheapest places food are to buy food for the Lunar New Year’s holidays?
The Ibis Ambassador Haeundae Hotel is holding a 1,000 won room for one night promotion for its grand opening.
Hard Rock Cafe Busan is offering a Wednesday night “Global Day” discount for foreigners.
Gorilla Brewing Company is hosting an “all-you-can-drink” event tonight at the brewery in Millak-dong.
HQ Gwangan’s monthly open mic night is back for the January edition, but for this month only, it’s being moved to Saturday.
Take a look inside the traditional cultures of the Vietnamese highlands
Officials said today, starting in April, South Korea will check information on inbound air passengers to sort out potential terrorists.
The ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships 2017 is taking place February 16-19 at the Gangneung Ice Arena.
Infielder for the Lotte Giants Hwang Jae-gyun has decided to leave the Korean Baseball Organization to challenge the Major Leagues.
The sports ministry said that South Korea plans to spend 937.2 billion won (US$779.7 million) this year in support for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games preparations.