A few months ago, Adam and I tried a new class. 13 minutes in, I found myself face down, Adam grabbing my legs, pushing me across the floor in some sort of messy race…with other people whizzing past me as I was scrambling my hands forward, looking around in confusion. “Why are we racing,” I thought? “And why am I losing?” Four minutes later, we ditched our mats and bolted for the bamboo exit. It was that day that we found out: Adam and I were not ready for AcroYoga.
While in Ubud, Bali, we thought we should try a couple of beginner’s yoga classes. If you’ve ever visited Ubud, somehow it feels slightly obligatory. Adam and I shared our first yoga experience together in Nicaragua around a year ago and had a great time. Our first try was so funny that we have an ongoing inside joke about the class. Throughout Day 1, while our kind teacher was watching Adam and I sweat buckets through our sun salutations, she continuously suggested that the people in the class should “feel free to take a brick if you need one”…”really”, she said, “just feel totally comfortable to take a brick if it is helpful”…again and again…”don’t be shy to take a brick if you need one.” There was no explanation as to how to use a brick, just not to be ashamed if you want one. Then our Instructor nudged this yoga brick within arms reach of our mats…Adam and I kept looking at each other in confusion…then Instructor scooted it a little closer…then magically onto our mats…then a second brick…then a third…finally, we realized she was telling Adam and I to use these squishy brick things for OUR yoga poses…apparently we really needed them! The all-class announcements were just for us…Woops. By the end of Day 1, we were surrounded by these bricks, we practically had little forts built around our mats, but had never actually picked one up. We still don’t really know how to use them! Anyway, the point is we are far from experts in yoga, so we bought a three-class package in Ubud with the option to choose which classes to try as sort of an introduction.
Our first two classes were incredible. We were immersed in concentration, very focused and felt extremely calm. The teachers were professional, supportive, clear, and our bodies felt amazing. We didn’t want to leave Ubud, just to continue the training. Our third day, we arrived to find our planned class cancelled, so we tried the only other beginners class left that day–AcroYoga.
I remember wondering if we were in the right class from the second we walked in–there was one woman doing repeated handstands against a wall, another woman who was easily ten minutes into her back bend, then a bunch of people on the floor slowly stretching. The class description had the word “beginner” in it, right? I checked many times, but it felt like the first day of 7th grade at a new school in that room. It was SUPER quiet, everyone looking around, a real social experiment. Then our Instructor’s Assistant came in 15 minutes before class was supposed to start and told all 20 of us to make our mats into a big circle so we could see each other. Then another student came in, and we all had to move our mats to enlarge the circle to fit one more person. Then another student came in. Enlarge. Then another. Enlarge. Every minute or so, people came in, gave a perplexed look to the whole deal, then we all adjusted. Five minutes before class started, I realized only a couple of people in there had any idea what was going on. Adam and I were not alone in feeling awkward. Jokes started getting thrown around about whether anyone really knew what this was about. The answer was no. And most of us couldn’t do a cartwheel…it was for beginners and we were making friends from all over the world through our common lack of understanding.
Finally, our Instructor arrived, putting her clothes on as she entered the room, late because she was out surfing, and she pushed things into an even more ridiculous place. She spoke to her Assistant for a split second, then used the yoga mat circle we proudly built to give around the class introductions. Next we were informed that although this class was called “AcroYoga” she’d decided on the way in that it was really only going to be Acro that day. What? Umm…I couldn’t even do a handstand. Strike one. We really didn’t think we were prepared for 1/2 Acro, let alone full (whatever that meant). Instructor then caught liquid dispensing from her nose and tossed it onto the floor. She told us she’s sorry that water is flowing out of her nose, but it’s only sea water from surfing. On that interesting note, we were told to pick up our mats and put them to the side of the room. WHAT??? Our lovely mat circle? 15 minutes of hard work and adjustments, all destroyed? All for snotty INTRODUCTIONS? Strike two. This girl was making me nervous.
Our next activity was described to the class, then adjusted with the Assistant Instructor, then described again. The only thing that was becoming clear was that there was no plan; today’s lesson was being created right before our eyes. Insert another sea water glob on the floor. We were asked to get with a partner, have one partner lay on the ground, and the other pick up the legs of the other, raise up the legs above their head onto their hands, and balance them as they hand walk across the floor. Confused? So were we. Essentially, we were asked to do the yoga equivalent of the wheel barrel across the room. I looked at Adam, like, are you hearing this? Am I misunderstanding? Can we mop up her sea water snot rockets first? Then we watched 16 groups of adults all start competing like children to get across the room on their hands the fastest in this chaotic (though hilarious), sloppy mess of a wheel barrel race…Adam and I followed the herd, now at the tail end. I couldn’t believe that this was right. In fact, because I was so slow in my moment of awe, I was still in the middle of the floor when she told the other 16 groups to switch and go back across the floor with the opposite partner. I WAS STILL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FLOOR WHEN TRAFFIC REVERSED! I was wheel barreling with all these people coming straight at me! By the time Adam and I had switched and we began to go back, instructions on the next random project had started being made up for the rest of the class to see. Strike three. I gave the look. Adam knows it. I said, “We need to get out of here. Now.” As I wiped my hands on my stretchy pants, Adam eyed the door. We looked left, we looked right. And then we ran. I felt terrible, but we had to leave our questioning comrads behind. I hope they got out ok. They were good people.Adam and I never went back to that class and have not tried Acro again. Our circus career ambitions are now fairly limited, but maybe someday we can try again. I think we’ll wait until Adam can touch his toes. Seems like a good benchmark. Because we hastily ran out on Acro, we decided to use our last afternoon in Ubud to go to the Monkey Sanctuary…and that just happened to be when we found the Monkey Festival starting and when Adam got a monkey stuck to his leg! Perfect timing. I’m happy to say we followed our three strikes rule and admitted we found our adventure limit for the day. For now, I’ll work on handstands at home on a dry floor.