YogaSlacker Teachers, Kristen Golden And Matt Wilson, On Connection And Playfulness At Hanuman Yoga Festival
By Ashley Shires
The Hanuman Yoga Festival is coming to Boulder, Colorado June 13 - 16, 2019, featuring an inspiring and playful line-up, including YogaSlacker Teachers, Kristen Golden and Matt Wilson, aka the AcroDorks. SF Yoga Magazine was thrilled to interview Kristen and Matt about their favorite parts of the festival and the transformation they see when people add touch, connection and playfulness to their yoga practice.
What is one of your favorite things about teaching at the Hanuman Yoga Festival?
Kristen: Our class is unique because it’s in the outdoor, main area of the festival. We get a chance to connect with all different kinds of people who come to the festival; we get to meet the vendors, the presenters, and even local foot traffic from the Boulder farmer’s market, checking out the festival. We enjoy meeting tons of people; we love being in the open, welcoming space of the open-air classroom.
Matt: We teach in the sunshine, under the clouds. This allows us to pull random people from the crowd to try slacklining and AcroYoga. These are some of the most rewarding experiences, the five minutes we sometimes have with someone walking by, when we convince them that they can do something that they never thought they could do.
Kristen: The slackline is up all day at the festival, we’re always teaching. The only reason we won’t teach is if there is lightning. We have taught in every type of weather you can imagine – sometimes it’s the best to play in the rain; the people who come out to play in the rain have incredible energy and attitude. We’re in Colorado, and the weather can be anything; sometimes it’s really hot, sometimes it’s really cold. It’s like a meditation practice.
Can you tell us a little about what you’ll be teaching at the Hanuman Festival?
Kristen: We’ll be co-teaching AcroYoga and a handstand class with our fellow AcroDorks Robyn Baumgartner and Darren Ceckanowicz, who are based in Colorado Springs with us, and we’ll teach intro slacklining with Assistant / Fellow YogaSlackers Teacher, Jerrod Fassler, based out of Denver. He is an absolutely amazing slackliner and teacher! And we’ll teach acro-therapeutics, too; Matt is a massage therapist.
Matt, have you found your massage training to be helpful in Acro-Therapeutics?
Matt: I’ve been doing massage therapy for four years now, and it definitely helps. Acro-therapeutics blends a lot of the principals of Thai massage with AcroYoga. As opposed to traditional AcroYoga, with a base supporting an active flyer, in acro-therapeutics, the flyer is essentially receiving a massage, holding their body soft instead of employing tension.
Kristen: It’s very similar to a yoga practice where you are aware of your feet in standing postures, and you’re energized and engaged, feeling the floor, but you’re not gripping the floor. In AcroYoga, sometimes people forget about the yoga part, but it is in there. I always say that acro-yoga is a great addition to a traditional yoga practice, adding components like touch, trust. We have a very human need for connection, especially in a world where we have our earbuds in. It’s something people don’t realize they’re missing, and they come to acro and find the enjoyment of being with other humans and remember how to play, to have fun, not take life so seriously. It’s easy to get up in the seriousness of yoga. If you don’t love what you practice, you won’t practice every day.
How did you both come to acro-yoga & slacklining?
Matt: Back when AcroYoga was just starting to become more popular, in 2009/2010, a high school friend discovered it in college and told me about it. At first I said, that is ridiculous – I’m not ever doing something like that (laughs). Fast forward five years; I move to Colorado and start rock climbing at our local climbing gym. They had yoga classes, which I thought would make me a better rock climber. AND they had an acro-yoga class.
Kristen: And that is how he became a hippie (laughs)!
Matt: I just got into the class and that’s how it all started.
Kristen: I started AcroYoga in Washington, DC in 2013. I originally signed up for a workshop with a boyfriend, and we broke up right before the workshop. I decided to go anyway – it was a five-day immersion with some of the best East Coast teaching crew. The community is really what it is – you meet people who are weird like you; you find your tribe. You go out and play and it is silly and cool. There is a huge jam scene and I would base for random strangers who would want to try AcroYoga. It is a beautiful way to grow community. With your own yoga practice, you can roll out your mat and do your practice and not look at another human being. But AcroYoga is different.
How did the two of you meet?
Kristen: I met Matt in Baltimore, after finding slacklining at Wanderlust in Vermont, and realizing I wasn’t very good at it (laughs). I was a climber and I wanted to get better. I kept following the YogaSlackers and met Matt in Baltimore. After two days, he convinced me to quit my job, give up my apartment, sell my things and move to Colorado to teach yoga.
Matt: We’ve been teaching together now since 2014.
Kristen: Now we’re doing all the AcroYoga, slacking stuff. Slacklining and AcroYoga have so much in common and the skills you learn in one apply to the other. We are totally open to kids coming to our classes, too. We have moms and dads who come with their kiddos.
Can you talk about your slackline class?
Matt: Sometimes we see more transformation when people come to the slack line than ArcoYoga. AcroYoga seems pretty hard, but it’s relatively tangible. With slacklining, people think they can never do it, but our approach teaches anyone to balance on the slackline. We start in many different postures, just like you would on a yoga mat. If you stick through the class, you will realize you are doing something you never thought you would be able to do – it’s an incredible, empowering moment.
Get your tickets to Hanuman Festival HERE. The best part => SF Yoga Mag readers get 10% off all tickets. Just use code SFYOGA2019 at checkout.