Acroyoga to schools -Estonia

AcroYoga is a great way to connect people and train together while having fun at the same time. Having fun in classes and truly connecting with other people are two things that tend to be missing at schools. It is not easy to be a kid in this big world of very different people. Kids often feel alone, misunderstood or just find it hard to belong. We aim to change that. We know what it feels like to really connect through AcroYoga and we want to offer the same feeling of community and belonging to kids.

We plan to share AcroYoga tools to physical education teachers, so that they could use them at their classes. Sitting in the circle, sharing with others, working together – children could really benefit from it. If teachers could bring more unity and love into schools, it would make life at school so much better. But this is a bigger goal further away, first we need to do some prework.

Our first step – sharing knowledge about who we are and what we do. At the beginning of every school year there is an expo, where estonian teachers come together and get to know about different activities they could offer at their schools. It is organized by an initiation called Liikumakutsuv kool (“School, that is inviting to move”). This year, for the first time, AcroYoga was also present. Thank you AcroYoga4All for inspiring us to take this course of action.

Two smiling AcroYoga teachers Kristin Hansen and Silver Tang were there on 12th of September 2019, introducing AcroYoga to teachers with words and flights on their legs. It was amazing to see how first a bit scared and suspicious faces turned into happy smiles. We have a little child hidden in every one of us, just waiting for someone to release it. World turned upside down for about hundred serious adults and AcroYoga was invited to many schools. This day was a complete success.

Even though there were a lot of fancy products introduced at this expo, AcroYoga booth was always crowded, full on fun and laughter, people waiting in a line. Kristin and Silver didn’t have much there, just themselves and their bodies, and it was all that was needed. This is great about AcroYoga, you don‘t need fancy equipment or products, just yourselves.

So, happy and inspired, we started the next phase of our project – AcroYoga workshops at schools. Before sharing AcroYoga as a tool to physical education teachers, we wanted to get some more knowledge about how kids would take it. Can it really be done in such a different atmosphere? Normally people pay to come to workshops or at least choose it by themselves, so they are really motivated to participate or free to leave if they don’t like something. At school, kids haven‘t chosen AcroYoga. They have to do what they are told, which is a very different setting from what we are used to when we do AcroYoga workshops or classes.

So, on 23rd of september 2019, Kristin and Silver went to Puhja school in South Estonia to teach AcroYoga at their sports week. There were two workshops – one for the kids in 4th and 5th grade, the other for 7th and 8th grade. During this event Kristin understood, that working with teenagers can be challenging. Some of them protest against yoga and it is hard to get their attention. It is important to find a common language. Kids who were participating, trying, experimenting, liked it a lot. Tricky part is getting them involved. This age group should attend in a smaller group, because then it is easier to get through to them and make them listen. In a bigger picture AcroYoga could have very good influence on them.

Kristin is teaching movement classes in lovely little Sänna village school in South Estonia once a week. She has 3 groups – kindergarden (4-5 years), 1st grade (7-8 years) and 6th-7th grade (13-14 years). They do partner exercises, yoga, creative movement and AcroYoga. These classes seem to have really good influence on those kids.

Things are also happening in North Estonia. Triinu Jõhve has instructed two workshops in schools and leads regular classes for ballet kids. One of the workshops was in Pelgulinna High School on 28th of september 2019. It was a physical education class for 20 girls in 8th grade. The other workshop happened on 30 september 2019 in Jüri Highschool, for 16 kids in 11th and 12th grade, boys and girls together.

Workshops showed, that groups are very different, but AcroYoga can really make a difference and kids love it. At one of the schools, two groups had to participate together, so they didn`t know each other very well in the beginning. At first they were very shy, a bit insecure and cautious, but step by step they melted and started to feel really good. Ice-breaking games really do melt the ice. By the end of the class kids felt great and about half of them asked, where could they come to do it again. The other group was already very open and eager in the beginning, so it was very easy to make them work together.

So, now we have contacts, many teachers already know what we are doing and we have some insight about how AcroYoga would fit into a physical education class. Many kids have been introduced with AcroYoga, so they can always come to us for more. These were our first goals and they are successfully achieved. All we need to do now is keep going, moving closer to the bigger vision that is shining on the horizon – AcroYoga being available for more and more school kid all over Estonia, constantly, not just once. It is big work, but will be totally worth it.