…A good question to ask yourself on your mat, and a great question to ask yourself off your mat. As many of you know, in addition to Yoga, I practice acrobatics, and teach a style called AcroYoga- a system and method that fuses the three lineages of yoga, acrobatics, and Thai massage.

With people taking photos and videos over the years I have seen comments that range from “that is incredible, the amount of focus and trust that it must take to do something like that is absolutely amazing” to “starved for attention! This is a far cry from yoga, and I am ashamed that I have to even be associated with this. You make the rest of us look bad.”

So which is it? What qualifies something as yoga? Is it being locked in a 110 degree room with a stop watch, mirror, and a set series of poses? Is it a creative dancing flow, choreographed to a hip playlist with a yoga mat under your feet? Is it precise alignment and long held postures all done with shorts that rival the sexiness of adult diapers?  Is it Adho Mukha Vrksasana (hand stand) borrowed from acrobatics, or Virabhadrasana II (warrior II), imitating the stances used by ancient warriors?

If I take a shape like warrior two and I create the physical look of it, then that makes us really good at simon says. The difference between the childrens game and a hatha yoga pose is the power that is put behind it. By infusing each shape with all the passion, joy, presence, and love inside of us that shape becomes Yoga. I do absolutely believe in alignment within our practice as a tool to help bring the mind into the body, and the body in a space that allows for the optimal flow of prana – the life force.  Conscious breath, with focus on alignment, can bring us deeply into our body; our body lives in the now.  LINK THE MIND AND THE BODY, AND THE MIND BECOMES PRESENT.

Alignment also refers to our current relationship with our intention.  May we align with the highest within us regardless of whether we are in chair pose or getting squished into an already crowded and hot subway car.  This is practicing Yoga.  SET YOUR INTENTION AND LIVE BY IT.

Mistakes.  I once read that mistakes are the bridge between what we don’t already know and wisdom.  I like that!  We are bound to make mistakes, for that is the art of learning, and learning is why we are here.  We will all make decisions that might unintentionally or just plain selfishly hurt someone else for our own gain.  The goal is not to be perfect, but rather to find the beauty in our imperfections and to find forgiveness when we see them in everyone else.  Always check in with our intention and harmful mistakes will be minimal.  And, when they happen, take responsibility for the mistake and forgive yourself.  May each mistake bring us more compassion and kindness towards others.  Afterall, we are simply reflections of one another. KINDNESS IS YOGA, AND DOES NOT REQUIRE A MAT.

For about two years I had a practice of constantly asking myself “Am I awake?”.  Just by asking the question the answer would have to be yes.  Even if a moment ago I was day dreaming, the question itself is evidence of the conscious witness inside.  I wouldn’t speak without asking this question,  and the question alone changed my life.  Now I will be asking a new question, and I invite you to join: AM I PRACTICING YOGA?

I will finish with my response to a blog posting on Elephant Journal

AnOldTimer ·

Looks lovely and a lot of fun, but…. am I the only one old enough to know this is just plain old acrobatics?People used to do this in theaters, circuses, on the beaches and at fairs when I was a kid.

It’ really great, but it’s got nothing to do with yoga at all, except for marketing. You stick the word ‘yoga’ on it and it sells nowadays.

 Matt Giordano  

yes this is Acrobatics and you are correct it is nothing new, it’s just becoming popular again.  AcroYoga is actually a style of yoga that uses the three lineages of Acrobatics, Yoga, and Thai Massage to teach trust, compassion, kindness, and focus…amongst many other aspects of life. I wouldn’t consider AcroYoga to be Hatha Yoga, even though it uses Asana within the teachings. But I would say it is Yoga in the same way that Karma Yoga, and Bhakti Yoga are forms of yoga that don’t necessarily incorporate asana (poses). The question we all should be asking these days is WHAT IS YOGA?

As Patanjali states in the Yoga Sutras, I believe yoga is “the science of the mind”.  So long as you are studying your reactions, impulses, triggers, patterns, and all the beauty that rests in your heart, then I don’t think it matters what you do in terms of creating a practice around that.

All that said…what you see in this video is two yogis practicing connection, awareness, focus, & breath within the physical confines and structure of Acrobatics.

let me know your thoughts!

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  1. Meditation plays the biggest role, hands down. Letting go of the ego is the goal. You are so right, Matt. I have enjoyed you’re presence for about several years now and really enjoy seeing your soul grow into the bright light it proves to be today. You have never given judgement nor gave into any ego as far as I’m concerned and I regard you very highly because of that. Keep on shining brother and may our paths cross again soon.

    1. Brooke thank you for sharing your beautiful and kind words, I am honored. I do have to say that I have judged, and I have absolutely been at the mercy of my ego, and that IS why growth is even possible. Growth needs change, and yes I have grown/changed over the years for the better. I am happy. I am also thankful to all those that were strong enough to point out the ego in me, I know i didnt make it easy for them. I am so fortunate to have a job that allows me to share the light as it grows brighter 🙂 Thanks for your continued support Brooke, I look forward to our paths crossing and learning from you!

  2. Thank you for this food for thought.
    Asking what yoga looks like is pretty akin to asking what prayer looks like. They all take different forms.
    I say to the old timer “Om Namah Shivaya.” Just let it go and don’t be concerned so much with what others are doing – check in and see if what you are doing for yourself feels right. What you do is perfect for you, that is the ultimate yoga.
    Matt, as the characters Ketut Liyer & Liz gilbert discuss in the book “Eat, Pray, Love” – “Universe is a circle, Liss….” (Ketut)
    “So, if heaven is love, then hell is…” (Liz)
    “Love too.” (Ketut)

  3. I started doing hatha yoga just after I started competing in acrobatics, so for me they are forever aligned and complimentary. To combine them seems natural. The attainment of complicated/difficult postures is a challenge that deepens the practice and perfects the body and mind. Doing so with acroyoga and/or partner yoga create a further layer in which we do so within a relationship between one or more people, which for me is an exciting addition to the practice. As I see it, the line (sometimes, very thin line) between acrobatics for show/competition and for yoga is intention – and sometimes, Ego. It is very easy to slip into that space in which we are no longer practicing yoga, but showing off our abilities.

  4. Matt,
    Your studentship is exemplary. Your constant self inquiry and concern about staying humble and being of service is the makings of a great teacher. Stay open to listening to the inner Shakti and let her guide your way.
    So much love and grace to you

What are your thoughts, I would love to hear from you