My Journey with barefootyoga.eu
Olla, my name is Živa. I am a Slovenian writer, storyteller, and artist. Above all, I am nuts about movement. In spring 2022 I attended my first barefootyoga.eu retreat, which deeply touched me on levels I never expected. To express my experiences with this lovely tribe, I’ve decided to write a story about my time on retreat.
There is a special kind of people who decided to pursue their dream. Teaching acro, playing music, diving deep into breathwork, preparing cacao, cooking meals. Only by doing so, they’ve set a playground for us seekers. I call them gems, who share their gifts with us, restless spirits seeing the world through youthful lenses. There are rare finds in the shapes of acrobats, bodyworkers, truth seekers, musicians, yogis, and cooks, changing your life without them even knowing so.
barefootyoga.eu is the most generous, loving, and kind acroyoga community I’ve met so far. And here’s my story, here’s your story, here’s their story.
“Is this the right thing for me? Do I belong here? Am I skillful enough?” – Thousands of thoughts are pouring from the skies of my mind while I’m juggling with the decision of whether I should attend a barefootyoga.eu retreat or not.
I put judgments aside. Observing the AcroYoga Instagram bubble from a distance made it look oh-so-fab! When something becomes Insta-famous, like AcroYoga indeed is, it might give you trendy vibes, but my gut instinct is telling me there’s much, much more to that practice. I’m not here for the trick; I don’t want to stay on the surface level. Deep dives are calling me, and barefootyoga.eu smells like the right response!
What kind of experiences are you after?
Life showed me how my intentions determine my perspectives, experiences, and overall reality. What you seek is what you see; what you’re searching for is in search of you. It doesn’t come as a surprise that those of us longing for community, connection, playfulness, inspiration, and ready to stretch our comfort zones might be drawn to the AcroYoga circles. My taste for honesty is sharp. I’ve barely scratched the surface of the playground, shortly called “acro,” when I’ve already made my call. So what am I after, then? The path? The process? The practice!?
barefootyoga.eu embodies the very essence of what it means to live the path, to honor the process, and to be connected in practice.
I still call it “kind of magic” when thinking about how barefootyoga.eu tribe manages to attract such beautiful souls on his retreats. This community, formed in the shape of a retreat with around 30 participants and a bouquet of teachers, became my spring, summer, and autumn highlight. Have you ever felt like you don’t belong anywhere? Most of the time, I do. I often feel like what I call “a pie in the space,” a misfit. And very rarely do I enter a circle of people where I feel like a part of the tribe, connected to other “misfits,” sharing the same love. On barefootyoga.eu retreats, I get a sense of extended family because all the right people come together. The space being held for each individual’s uniqueness is heartwarming.
You’re here first and foremost to connect in play!
AcroYoga is not an individualistic practice; yet we might still struggle with our goals, perfectionism, fears, and expectations. With a background in very individualistic sport, I was used to mainly perform and being judged based on my performance. I somehow managed to carry this old pattern with me whenever I went. Even in AcroYoga practice, I thought I had to “do something right” in order to belong to the community. That ancient paradigm fell apart the second I walked into the evening circle on the first barefootyoga.eu retreat I attended.
To my surprise, I was more than welcome, even with a severe knee injury that sadly accompanied me through the past months. Individualism and performing were off the table. Connection, safe play, open space, in tunning with our bodies were the guiding lights of our acro days.
Think about what you need in order to feel safe when you enter an unknown group of people? What is the key ingredient which melts the icy wall of uncertainty away? I would say there are two options – time or a mediator. With enough time spent together, you can get used to everything and everyone. But what about when you don’t have all the time in the world? When you find yourself in a setup of unfamiliar faces? Gabriel has the answer! His mission seems to be to hold space, provide a system that brings us all together, and work as “a glue” between participants. I’ve never seen anyone being so mindful about keeping the connection alive and honestly caring about our wishes.
Yin and yang, rest and play, from the inside out
Balance. Balance in life. Balance in the body. Balance in practices.
You can’t just fly, pop, whip, or castaway all day long, can you? The same goes for hanging out – even the most extroverted people need some time to reconnect with their inner worlds. The price for unbalanced practices might be too high. And AcroYoga is all about balancing different elements into countless combinations. Gentler practices, long lunch breaks by the pool, and morning wake-up yoga classes are very much welcome.
“The higher you fly, the more grounding you need” is Gabe’s sentence I will remember for life. The wisdom behind it can be applied to so many situations. Back to oneself. Back to basics. Back to mother earth. Back to resting time in the shades of trees. Back to details that made a retreat unforgettable.
Small gifts, thoughtfully sprinkled on top of classes, enchanted me. Like a magic box, inviting us to fill it with any kind of wishes we had, written on pieces of paper. Or sharing circles in the middle of the week, where teachers ensure all our needs are met. And majestic evenings, where we got to slow down, braid our hearts next to the fire, dance barefoot, and fill the cups of ceremonial cacao with pure love. Not to forget relaxing yin yoga classes, a much-needed Thai massage, and a fun day at the beach with the photo shoot.
Who could overlook all these acts of kindness sewed into a daily schedule? Who wouldn’t adore all the appreciation for us to just be part of the retreat? I hope I’ll never take things like this for granted.
You matter! Every individual part creates the whole experience
My appreciation for the organizers, who considers the well-being of every participant in every given moment, is enormous. “Play safe,” accompanied with claps, hugs and moments of joy during learning difficult tricks was a much appreciated approach to the practice.
When everyone feels safe, seen, welcome, and appreciated, we get to create a majestic week for all of us! I’ve never been more aware of the fact that every individual part creates the integral whole. We all bring our unique characters to the table, as well as our stories, struggles, hopes, and fears. For a week spent together, it feels like nothing else matters but the play, the love, the connection. Even the most closed ones get to put their guards down in an environment like this. It’s pure magic, I’m telling you!
Not to forget – teachers! Oh, dear, dear teachers! It seems like Gabriel invites only the most empathic and self-reflective teachers who align with the retreat’s values. Being a teacher doesn’t mean only being an advanced practitioner. It firstly and primarily means being in service to the community, staying grounded and open-hearted. I couldn’t wish for more wonderful humans in the roles of teachers than those on barefootyoga.eu retreats.
You get to practice qualities for life, not just movement skills
Movement is never just a movement. It is also a metaphor for life and a stage for practicing soft skills. If you look closely, AcroYoga is all about our roles in everyday life. “Basing, spotting, flying” are not just phrases describing acro skills, yet essential parts of existence.
I’ve heard a funny sentence: “Acrobats are not like slackliners.” What does it mean? That here’s more pull toward achieving the next step in your practice. This brings me back to deliberation about our characters. Sometimes we might get impatient, too excited, or even nervous. For a moment, we forget about “the path, the process, the practice.” And here’s a significant difference I see in different acro setups. barefootyoga.eu retreats always bring you back to much-needed soft skills, like patience, cooperation, and responsibility. The whole vibe of the retreat is made to gently push you out of your comfort zone yet keep you grounded and present here and now. We could all use a bit more of that recipe, right?
Food heaven, designed by the barefootyoga.eu kitchen!
Now, let’s get serious. Food! Omg, THE FOOD! I can give you a “cross my heart” kind of promise that you’ll have a great culinary experience during your retreat. Different varieties of vegetables, fresh and cooked, a big variety of whole grain rice and other cereals, yummy dips and sauces, salad dressings, soups, curries, cakes and and and… All meals are well prepared and made with love and joy!
Art. Music. Healing. Diversity.
Actions tell more than thousands of words. In the presence of every single teacher and organizer, I felt like they were true leaders, leading by example. They made me feel like my body was a canvas, and I got to use movement as brush strokes to create art. No extra words are needed; you’ll know what I’m talking about once you attend retreats.
Last but not least, the live music which is played during the Yoga in the morning and the bodywork and yin sessions in the evening does not only spice up the whole retreat, but heals broken hearts, softens insecure minds, and sparks up pure joy. I also really enjoyed the cacao ceremony and ecstatic dance with partly live music and Dj’s mixing their favorite tunes.
Before I let you go, here is a poem from the movie La La Land, which coincides beautifully with the barefootyoga.eu community experience.
“A bit of madness is key
To give us new colors to see
Who knows where it will lead us?
And that’s why they need us.”