Acro yoga club stretches students’ limits

Allison Mueller

Victoria McKenzie/ Winonan

Between studying for classes and earning money, college students have a hard time trying to find time to care for their health and sometimes have fun.

Winona State University’s new acro yoga club gives students the opportunity to satisfy their health needs while taking part in an entertaining activity.

Libby Dembski and Sarinna Fisher, two seniors in social work, started the acro yoga club this past November.  Both Dembski and Fisher have long enjoyed traditional yoga, and after finding acro yoga online, Fisher said they “fell in love with it.”

Dembski and Fisher attended several workshops at yoga centers to learn the fundamentals of acro yoga, how to keep it safe and how to teach poses to others.

Dembski said acro yoga is not offered as a class anywhere else in Winona so they wanted to bring it to Winona State students and the surrounding community.

Just as it sounds, acro yoga combines traditional yoga with acrobatics.  Much of the poses involve lifting and holding traditional poses in the air.  These stretching-and strength-building exercises are partner-based, which is mostly what the club focuses on.

“It almost looks like a circus act,” Dembski said, laughing.

Fisher enjoys the team-building aspect of the sport, and said, “Using somebody else to balance yourself, you work together to make it stable. It is a cool partnership.”

Shannon Rutledge, a junior in social work, joined the club. She said she has seen improvement in her body skills.

“I’ve gotten so much stronger and so much more flexible from this,” Rutledge said. “I was able to do way more than I ever thought. I always tell people if I can do this, you can do this.”

Fisher said the new club offers a change of pace from typical school work.

“As social work majors, we learn a lot about self-care. This is just one really great outlet for anybody in college, because it relieves so much stress.”

To a regular viewer, the thought of even trying acro yoga may be stressful due to the need for coordination and flexibility.

“It’s not as hard as it looks, so people shouldn’t be intimidated by the photos.  They can do it if they try,” Dembski said.

The club has a Facebook group with now over one hundred and fifty likes where they post the dates, times and locations of meetings.

Although they have begun compiling a list, attendance at the club has remained rather informal.  The number of people varies each week and they average about 10 people with some in regular attendance.

Rutledge said she enjoys how carefree and fun the meetings are.

Fisher and Dembski said they have made the club a collaborative group where people can come to all help each other learn and enjoy acro yoga.

“It’s constantly an evolving process.  We change things up and ask for feedback,” Dembski said.

Currently the club is planning a trip to the Twin Cities to take an acro yoga class with a professional, since, as Dembski puts it, she and Fisher are both still “newbies.”

Dembski and Fisher said they hope to receive more members who want to keep the club going, since the two of them will be graduating this spring.