Yakima Natives Return To Share Their Love For AcroYoga

Sisters Now Teaching Local Workshops After Traveling The World As Instructors

By Molly Allen
Yakima Valley residents are learning to defy gravity with help from a new yoga method that was introduced here this summer.
Sisters Jill and Angela Baumgardner, owners of Yakima Acro, are bringing the practice of AcroYoga to Yakima, introducing the community to how approachable the activity can be.
AcroYoga, often practiced in pairs or groups, combines yoga and acrobatics, and also helps build trust and communication.
“It’s playful, and it’s a good reminder to adults that we can still be just like kids,” Jill said. “The basic premise is that trust and communication can result in playfulness.”
And for many, AcroYoga is showing people who may not be interested in yoga just how much their body is capable of.
“It really helps people recognize the strength of their own body and what it can do,” Angela said.
Yakima Acro hosted its first workshop in June at Gracie North Jiu-Jitsu Academy, 2706 W. Nob Hill Blvd.
Each workshop starts with icebreaker activities to open a clear line of communication, and participants are welcome to attend alone or as couples.
“You just need to show up as you are and communicate your needs,” Jill said. “Too often we focus on the ‘you’ but this forces people to reflect and talk about ‘I.’”
The Baumgardners were born and raised in Yakima, graduating from Eisenhower High School in 1998 and 2002, respectively.
They spent years watching their mother do yoga. She taught the practice for years at the YMCA.
“Watching our mom is really where our exposure to yoga began,” Angela said. “We’d sit in the kitchen and watch, thinking ‘what in the world is she doing?’ But it caught on for us from there.”
After years of teaching yoga, Angela was introduced to the founders of AcroYoga International in 2005, when the practice was first gaining popularity.
Once she shared her experience with her sister, their passion developed from there. They started teaching AcroYoga in 2007, traveling to South America, Europe and Asia to share the practice.
“We’re really excited to be bringing something new to the community,” Jill said. “We’re taking what we have learned over the years and utilizing the relationships we’ve been building.”
The two sisters recently moved back to Yakima for a change of pace and to raise their families after owning a wellness center in Seattle for 10 years.
The 5,000-square-foot space housed everything from acupuncture and massage to yoga and nutrition counseling, as well as regular AcroYoga classes.
“Of all the things we do, AcroYoga is probably our favorite thing to share,” Jill said. “It’s like the party favor of yoga.”
Jill and Angela have continued hosting monthly workshops at Gracie North and have found that the space fits their needs perfectly.
Gracie North is the only place in Yakima that hosts AcroYoga classes, thanks to the Baumgardners — and they intend to keep it that way.
“We really have no drive for a brick and mortar location again,” Jill said. “The beauty of this relationship is that we can connect with like-minded businesses and form complementary partnerships.”
Now that the business has gained a following, with 15 to 20 participants at each workshop, Yakima Acro is beginning a four-part series at the end of September, which will continue through December.
The workshops in this series are progressive, allowing participants to join in at any point and catch up.
The sisters hope to have weekly classes up and running by early next year.
“It’s really fun and rewarding to bring this to the community we grew up in,” Angela said. “And we’re excited to see where it can go from here.”
For more information about Yakima Acro classes, visit them on Facebook.

Originally published in the Yakima Business Times 

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