She got a running start before gracefully hopping onto his upturned feet. He held her up in what looked to be an “airplane” pose, except it was much more delicate.
Mathematics junior Katie Smith looked like a bird perched in flight as political science senior Brandon O’Rourke held her up by his feet.
“This is called bird pose,” Smith said, smiling. She looked straight ahead with her head held high.
After steadying herself on O’Rourke’s feet, she let go of his hands and balanced there for a few moments.
Biochemistry freshman Emily Mobley spotted Smith as O’Rourke lifted her up and down like he was bench pressing her with his legs.
“You don’t need a gym,” O’Rourke said.
Holding Smith up with one foot, he then helped her shift into throne pose, where she seemed to be sitting upon his upturned feet as if it was a throne. It was a wonder she never fell, but balance and strength were the name of the game.
“(Acroyoga) is about discovering what your body can do,” O’Rourke said. “Discovering your limits.”
These three Acroyoga (also spelled AcroYoga or Acro-Yoga) enthusiasts meet on Dexter Lawn every Tuesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., being “built up,” as Smith called it, by some seriously cool poses and by each other.
“We aren’t a club,” O’Rourke said, laughing. “We would be heavily scrutinized for liability if we were.”
Smith, O’Rourke and Mobley are only a few of the group members that meet to do Acroyoga. O’Rourke described their group as a type of extension of Acroyoga SLO, which is a community that meets in different places, including Spark Yoga, throughout the week to do Acroyoga.
While they might not be an official club on campus, the Acroyoga community at Cal Poly is strong.
“It started about two years ago,” Smith said. “My friend and I started doing Acroyoga out on Dexter and slowly but surely, more people started to come. It’s become a really big established group.”
It’s not unusual to spot a lively group or two doing something like hula-hooping or playing music on Dexter Lawn, and the Acroyoga group likes to think it draws a pleasant crowd.
“We might be one of those eccentric groups on Dexter,” O’Rourke said, laughing. “But we don’t really care.”
Smith hopes to draw even more people to do Acroyoga, as it is a huge stress reliever. Being an expert is unnecessary.
“You can be the most inflexible person ever,” Smith said. “That’s why you do Acroyoga: to become more flexible and stronger.”
Lifting people up in the air by legs, and sometimes just arms, while lying down can look intimidating. As well as being a “flyer” — those who are being lifted.
“It’s more than acrobatics and it’s more than stretching and strength,” O’Rourke said. “There’s community and it’s about trust and communication.”
Mobley found community and support within the Acroyoga group, especially as a freshman.
“It’s definitely a big passion in my life,” Mobley said. “It’s much like yoga — you find your zen and your peace, but you’re working with other people and getting to know other people.”
There is a definite support system within the Acroyoga group that supports its members, even outside of doing Acroyoga twice a week.
“We support each other a lot outside of this,” O’Rourke said. “It’s all facilitated by the trust we build doing Acroyoga.”
Community and trust-building seem to be the foundation of the group, along with two basic poses everyone starts out with: the bird and throne poses.
Smith invited an observer who had been watching to try it. Hesitant at first, the student watched them do a few more poses and then hopped in, with Mobley spotting them. Smith applauded as the student held bird pose on her own without holding onto O’Rourke’s hands.
“Give it a whirl,” Smith said. “All you need is body awareness and some optimism.”