Chelsey Korus on Acro yoga and the importance of maintaining a regular practice

Chelsey Korus on Acro yoga and the importance of maintaining a regular practice

Mind over matter

Text: Tracy Phillips

For yoga and fitness instructor Chelsey Korus, yoga changed her life

If social media is to be believed, practically everyone is practicing yoga. People of all ages and nationalities have embraced the ancient discipline that incorporates mental, physical, and spiritual components. At the forefront of this movement is a growing network of influential yoga instructors who travel the world to spread the yoga gospel and Chelsey Korus is one of these limber individuals. An instructor on leading online yoga site, Korus is also a proponent of Acro yoga. She cuts a fine figure with her modelesque looks and a physique built from years of yoga, ballet, martial arts, and acrobatic training. We caught up with her when she was in town to lead a yoga class at the Zespri Golden Mornings series of events.

We've seen the popularity of yoga soar in the last few years. What made you decide to embrace the yogi lifestyle?
Yoga changed the way I think and thus the way I see the world. I started the practice of watching my thoughts and letting them pass me by without judging them. For the first time, I started listening to something deeper within me. I stopped being a reactor and became more of an observer and that was huge for me.

Newer forms of yoga such as Acro yoga are gaining momentum and you've played a big part in growing this trend. What makes Acro yoga unique?
Acro yoga is a practice of trust and teamwork and has its roots in yoga, acrobatics and therapeutics. Matt, my acro partner, and I have been practicing Acro yoga for 7 years and have taught and performed this practice all over the world. What is unique about what we do is that we mostly improvise our poses without following any sort of set choreography. That being said, all I can think about when I'm transitioning between poses is to "stay open, stay awake." If I try to plan ahead, the natural flow gets disrupted and begins to feel laboured. But when I get out of my own way and accept whatever I'm given as the perfect foundation for what's to come... it's the closest thing to magic I've ever experienced. Transitions just happen and poses create themselves. The best thing a person can hear in an Acro yoga setting is "I've got you." It's so powerful!

Every year, you spend the entire summer teaching and performing in the Wanderlust Festival that travels across the United States. What's that experience like?
I've been a part of the Wanderlust family for many, many years. This particular festival holds a special place in my heart because I feel like I grew up on this tour as a teacher and a performer. So many of us teachers travel so much and live all over the globe. When this time of the year rolls around, we finally get to be with one another and that's magical. This festival does a great job at facilitating spiritual awakening along with the best summer vacation you've ever had.

Chelsey Korus

As someone who's always on the go, what's your advice on maintaining a regular practice when travelling?
My advice is just to do it! Airports, parks, hotel rooms, wherever you can, mat or no mat. Yoga requires very little space. Consistency is key to keeping your body in balance.

Do you have a special diet that helps with your yoga practice?
I used to be a raw vegan for many years but that didn't work out for me. I started to reintroduce cooked root vegetables, grains, and fish into my diet, and found that balance better suited for my body. I still maintain a pretty healthy diet even if I indulge in dark chocolate and a glass of red wine from time to time to keep things spicy.

When you're not teaching, how do you like to spend your time?
I love spending a day out in the wild with someone I love. We'll prepare food by a campfire and sleep under the stars.

Any advice for all the yoga practitioners out there?
Don't be afraid to be GREAT! This practice isn't about perfecting that next pose or holding the longest handstand. It is about going inward, knowing yourself, and caring deeply. We all have thoughts that tear down our confidence and make us feel weak, but we know deep down the practices that make us feel great and powerful. Don't be afraid to do things and spend time with the people that bring out the best in you. As Sri K. Pattabhi Jois once said, "Do your practice and all is coming." 

Related story: Alicia Pan on naked yoga, the Yoga Movement Academy, and her go-to practice gear