Portland yoga enthusiasts embrace lighthearted 'play-based' forms

Posted: June 6, 2012 at 10:13 pm

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There's a movement afoot in Oregon's yoga studios to add a little oomph to your om.

Yoga-based infusions of activities from circus arts to acrobatics to slacklining are gaining popularity among those who prefer a more interactive, lighthearted, "fun" yoga experience.

At a recent AcroYoga class at Southeast Portland's Yoga Union, instructor Jacob Handwerker started the session with yoga poses and light meditation. Then, he turned up the music with a heart-quickening beat and the fun began.

"You guys warm enough?" he asks a dozen or so students. "Let's try some flying."

Nobody seems particularly Zen, but participants certainly seem to be in union, laughing and clapping as they execute yoga poses while balancing precariously atop hands and feet of a partner who lies on the ground as a human balance beam.

"It's about working together, developing trust, and playfulness," says Handwerker, who teaches the acrobatics-infused yoga classes in Portland and around the world. "It's taking yoga off the ground and into the air."

The newest wave of innovation in yoga appeals to the adventurous, and those who hesitate to delve into more traditional and meditative yoga styles.

"I really love how it feels to be weightless up high," says Steph Rooney, 35, a certified yoga teacher who joined Handwerker's Flight School. "It's different than alignment-based yoga."

And its popularity is rising.

Across town, Portland families use Morgan Goldberg's CircusYoga workshops to forge intergenerational bonds. The classes are built around the idea of young and old family members playing together. A typical class might include acrobatics, juggling and tumbling.

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Portland yoga enthusiasts embrace lighthearted 'play-based' forms

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June 6th, 2012 at 10:13 pm

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