In AcroYoga We Trust.
Cover Photo By Wari Om Photography
By Ema Barba
One of our Favourite experiences at the Barcelona Yoga Conference this year was the variety of AcroYoga classes offered. We were thrilled to see that Jason Nemer, founder of AcroYoga, was at the festival! Jason has just over 30 years of acrobatic experience and founded AcroYoga 15 years ago. He has worked immensely to build a community around this practice, so as you can imagine were very excited to interview him.
What’s your main joy in AcroYoga?
Today I had a dance party with a 1 year old, a 3 year old and I got to be with my chosen family of AcroYogis. I like to see beginners express this child-like joy. I like to see advanced students say one thing to their partner and change one little thing and have more ease. There’s a lot of joy throughout the practice.
For someone who is intimidated by all this, what do you recommend?
Ideally, they can find a teacher – whether that teacher has a beginner class that they can do, or that teacher will do a private class. You want a teacher that knows how to guide you throughout the practice and make the practice more safe and efficient. If there’s a sunny day in Athens, in Beijing, anywhere, you can practice – AcroYogis really like sharing the practice. Like any practice, it starts out with that first action, asking for what you need and asking for the support of the community.
How’s AcroYoga different from other styles of Yoga?
What Yoga is beautiful for is helping you develop self-knowledge. What AcroYoga is beautiful for is that you take that self-knowledge and apply it to your relationships.
There’s partnership involved and there’s a big emphasis on the community. It’s not that Other yoga families don’t have the community – by design, the connection between people goes very deep. I’ve got many people at festivals that I’ve known for 5 to 10 years, I’ve seen them starting a family after meeting at a festival. The amount of love, of trust and high-levels of communication that is built here is amazing. We do acrobatics and we do therapeutics. We’re in very high risk environments together and that makes us really have to be clear on how and what we communicate. That’s how you get to know yourself - sometimes when you’re in high tension, you might not be able to be honest about what you need.
What do you think AcroYoga teaches people?
I was born in Mexico and raised in California. I consider myself a global citizen. What I’m seeing around the world is a lot of ugly things as well as beautiful things happening, a lot of extremes. I think it’s unfortunate when people implicitly don’t trust strangers. People are taught “don’t talk to people you don’t know." But what I learn in this practice is – not only can you trust strangers, but you can love strangers, you can support strangers. I think there’s a lot of things you are taught at a young age that I don’t believe in. The more that I have traveled – and I have traveled a lot now – the more I learned humanity is so similar. We want to be loved, supported, challenged and connected. There are so many things we have in common. We can meet each other at a human level, assume the best from people and work on building friendships in a very playful way… this is what I see is in our DNA.
What’s the main challenge in building such large communities?
What I think I did well at, was building a global community – I’m very good at building progressions – I’m very good at looking at high level skills and building them backwards and offering things that are approachable for people who think they can’t do it. I’ve also been very determined – I’ve been on the road for 8 years. I haven’t been in one place longer than a month. One of my biggest challenges in community is seeing how sometimes people think small and are not seeing how abundant things can be when we work together and they think of what they need for them. 10 years ago there were over 10 teachers in a big city and they decided they don’t want to teach with each other because they didn’t want to share the money. If you co-teach and both of you are building your class together, you’re going to grow it. I get really challenged by people who don’t see the big picture. If we all work together we can build much bigger things. At the same time, I know everyone has lessons they need to learn. For any number of reasons, I see community building in a way and I don’t expect people to see it the same way that I do, but I get frustrated with people thinking small and not seeing the big picture.
What is a question you’d like to be asked but no one asks?
A lot of times people don’t really know very much about AcroYoga and people assume AcroYoga and Jason Nemer are one and the same. I definitely do have other passions and other interests and I am happy to explore those more and also to be able to share them with people that I love. I am at a moment in my life, for the first time in my professional career, when I’m trying to focus on my life more. I’ve been very focused on building a global community and supporting other people. By design, I don’t like to be the one who gets a lot of attention. I don’t like it to be about me. But I’m realizing the global practice is in a very healthy place right now and I can relax and spend more time thinking about myself.
So then let me ask you: what are you about other than AcroYoga?
I love cooking, I love music. I’ve been playing music for many years but I’ve decided to stop traveling with a ukulele or a keyboard. I decided to stop, I want a piano. I sing as well. I did an album a couple of years ago, it has got some kirtan, some love songs, some break up songs. A piano represents for me stability. I’m at that point in my life where I’m ready to have a kitchen with all my spices, the right size pillow for me and having a piano that I can play. Have friends that I can invite over every Monday and have a dinner. The simple things that a lot of people don’t know how precious they are – I want to have the boring, simple life a little more.
Thank you, Jason! See you next year!
Register your place to next year’s Barcelona Yoga Conference here– early bird is valid until the 1st of December!