Matt Wilson and Kristen Golden are two of a group of five Colorado Springs acroyoga teachers who call themselves the AcroDorks. Matt specializes in slacklining and acrobatics, and Kristen is a Vinyasa Flow E-RYT 200. The two met at a YogaSlacker workshop in 2014, and have been co-teaching and sharing their passions for acroyoga and slackline yoga with students ever since. Matt and Kristen will be teaching at the 2018 Hanuman Festival in Boulder, CO, in June.
How did the AcroDorks name come about? How do you integrate acro and slackline yoga in your teaching? How has this changed over time?
Matt: Shortly after Kristen and I met, I went to my acro teacher training with Acro Revolution. Social media has never been my strong suit, and when we had to create an Instagram account, I came up with a super lame name. Knowing how much I love technical details and getting dorky, Kristen asked, “Why not AcroDork?” Once we started teaching together, we made it plural and added an LLC! As a same size partnership, there’s less room for error and greater need for precision. A dorky focus on technique perfectly describes our practice and teaching approach.
Kristen: I started practicing acroyoga before I was a slackliner, and when I did start slacklining, my acro practice really evolved. Now, I really enjoy the YogaSlackers style of acro known as “Slackro.” This style allows the flyer to do a lot of their own balancing, similar to a person on a slackline. We find it more challenging and it gives us a lot of room for extra creativity in our practice.
How important is the element of play in your practice? What do you to cultivate playfulness, especially when you are not in a playful mood?
Kristen: So important! Sometimes it’s not playful, and you can definitely feel it drain you. When we run into practices like that, communication and breath help a lot. Sometimes we also have to let go of the training aspect for a bit and just let it be play. Teaching with your life partner really deepens your connection and shows you what working and what’s not in your relationship, both on and off the mat. It’s super yoga-y in that respect.
What has been your biggest life lesson or transformation? What helped get you through it?
Matt: Diving into the rock climbing, yoga, and slackline communities truly helped me realize who I am and who I want to be. Mid-way through my tour in Afghanistan with the Army, I took my R & R to Chiang Mai, Thailand. I attended my first acroyoga immersion, studied Thai massage, and met so many wonderful people. Even though it was in front of me the whole time, my trip to Thailand gave me a clear revelation: the happiest people I know are not concerned with finances and possessions; they pour their energy into experiences and relationships and get so much more in return.
Kristen: Yoga transformed my life. I was healing from an emotional and physical trauma, and yoga was the thing that really got me through the toughest times. Yogic philosophy really stressed to me the impermanence of life and its discomforts as well as our natural state of resilience. Acro taught me the importance of play and trust. Sometimes its hard facing your fears, but acro brings a sense of adventure and exhilaration to it.
What sources of inspiration do you draw upon to fuel your personal practice and teaching?
Kristen: We are so lucky to be part of the YogaSlackers and are surrounded by so many incredible people! Many of the YS teachers are talented highliners, rock climbers, acrobats, and adventure racers. We are never short of inspiration within our amazing, international community. We also find so much motivation from our students. Teaching at festivals is such a wonderful opportunity to meet interesting people from all walks of life, and often it’s the person facing their fears by taking their first step on the slackline that reminds us why we do what we do.
Where do you want to go from here? What are your future plans?
Kristen: We both gave up our desk jobs to live lives directed at empowering people to find health and purpose in their lives. Matt is a fantastic massage therapist and I have recently begun my career as a birth worker, so we are enjoying our new found passions. Of course play, adventure, and yoga will always be focal points in our lives, but for right now we are soaking up new knowledge and embarking on fresh and exciting roles in life.
Matt: My movement diversity has expanded quite a bit over the past several years since becoming a Massage Therapist, MovNat trainer, and studying Restorative Exercise with Katy Bowman. Through the journey, I am continually learning how crucial playful movement is to a healthy mind, body, and community. While I used to be hyper-focused on expanding my acrobatics and performance practices, I now find myself called toward using acrobatics, restoratives, and natural movement as tools to connect people to their bodies and help them remember how to play.