A couple that does acro together stays together. At least for Max & Liz Lowenstein, two Alo yogis based in Dallas, who met each other in yoga class during a time when they were both seeking positive change. They started practicing acro yoga during their downtime, and eventually the partnership bloomed into a real-life relationship (now, they're often known to finish each other's sentences). As a practice requiring intense trust, vulnerability and tenacity, acro has helped the pair heal and grow in ways they never thought possible, both on an individual level and as a close-knit couple. That same mindfulness that they practice in yoga pours into other parts of their lives too. Max & Liz are Registered Dietitian Nutritionists and vegans, so they have a deep understanding of the link between diet and wellness. When we caught up with the yogis recently, we picked their brains on what they've gained from practicing acro, advice they have for people looking to try it and their top food and wellness tips.
How did you each get into yoga?
Max: My mom made me come home early every day from high school basketball and practice yoga. I thought it was the dumbest thing ever. I remember laughing the first time the teacher had us om together (ironically, now chanting is my jam!). Through college, I grew to like yoga more and actually sought it out about once a week or so. After college, when I was working as a personal trainer, I started doing yoga two to three times per day. I started to find that this physical practice was a way to use my body as a framework for the universe and uncover more about myself. I was able to heal and grow like never before—it helped me overcome heartache and addiction. I took my teacher training with YogaWorks in 2013, and the rest is history.
Liz: I was searching for a home practice that I could do my senior year of high school after my swim season ended, and found yoga online! I was definitely too intimidated to go to a studio or take any public classes, so I learned how to fall a lot on my yoga mat at home. Throughout college, I took a few semesters of yoga classes as electives and loved how present I could become with my breath and body. But it wasn't until after college that my real yoga began, in the middle of chaos and soul-searching. It grounded me and provided guidance to help me realize my life path—to teach, inspire, be inspired and heal. I did my teacher training in the summer of 2015 and haven't looked back since.
You just posted the story of how you two met in six parts on Instagram (so amazing!). As two people who walked into a friendship with similar emotional baggage, how was your acro partnership and eventual relationship a catalyst for self-growth?
Liz: Practicing acro yoga together was a game-changer. It shifted the way I viewed the world and opened me up in ways I never knew were possible. Our partnership in acro yoga especially opened my throat and heart chakras, cultivating expression, communication and love (first and foremost for myself). When I was younger, I would get agonizing allergies and eczema on my hands, and my throat would even close up when I ate certain foods, no matter what foods I cut out of my diet. Looking back now, it was definitely a physical manifestation of the lack of expression I felt, to voice my authentic self to the world. Backbending was also terrifying for me, as I was afraid to share my vulnerability and open up my heart to anything. The exhilaration I felt in body, mind and spirit, the clear communication we had and the trust we cultivated made me realize that I was living on such a low vibration for months after an intense breakup, before I met Max. Acro yoga is such a physically and emotionally uplifting practice with so many parallels to life. How do you talk to your partner? How do you talk to yourself? How much trust do you put out to the universe and your partner when you take the leap? There are so many constant life lessons and beautiful messages in acro yoga.
Max: I had already undergone some major transformations, and acro yoga allowed me to express those transformations in a physical way. I was able to—in practical situations—practice compassion, empathy, self-control, communication, trust, mindfulness and receptivity. It allowed me to put everything I learned into practice.
What makes a good acro partner?
Max & Liz: Open lines of communication, trust and “acro-chemisty,” as we call it. This refers to how, sometimes, you just know how someone is going to move. How they will react—physically, emotionally, spiritually—or what they need. This can be something like a spark that just happens, or it can be developed over time and can be completely platonic.
Max and Liz: First and foremost, approach it with an open mind and have fun! Don’t take it or yourself too seriously. Let go and play. A close second is to find a good teacher! A good teacher can save you time, energy and injuries. What will take you months to do on your own—poorly and probably while developing bad habits—can be taught correctly and quickly by a skilled teacher. It’s also important to not freak out! The first time doing acro can be scary, but the safest place to be is the correct place or shape. This is for everyone: base, flyer and spotter. Speaking of spotters, use one. The spotter makes sure everyone stays safe and allows the base and flyer to push themselves to their perceived limits. Finally, have soft padding around, just in case you come down!
You’re both vegans and Registered Dietitian Nutritionists. How does diet factor into your practice?
Max & Liz: We eat all the time to fuel our bodies, but we're super careful of the things that we put in our bodies. Diet is an essential part of our daily practice. Gratitude for the food we have allows us to bring gratitude into our life in other ways. The mindfulness we prepare our food with spills into other aspects of our life. The food we put into our body is directly correlated to our vibration and energetic output. From a physical and energetic standpoint, we've never felt better eating a plant-based diet. It's cleaner, more digestible and promotes a faster recovery.
What are your biggest food and wellness tips for yogis?
Max & Liz: Eat lots of plants. You can increase your energy and vibration depending on what you eat. And it’s true—you are what you eat. Are you a byproduct of another being, or are you something that is constantly growing, fruiting and helping others? Are you eating something that had fear, anxiety and sadness? Or are you consuming air, land, ocean and sun? Yoga is a very detoxifying practice. Oftentimes, however, we practice yoga and then don’t clear the toxins from our system. Some ways to detoxify are drinking warm teas or lemon ginger water first thing in the morning to get things moving, drinking burdock root tea to clear the toxins from your body after yoga and using spirulina and barley grass powder in coconut water before or after your practice to supply amino acids to your muscles, replenish muscle glycogen, hydrate yourself on a cellular level and pull toxins out of your system.
Who or what inspires you in your practice? Favorite yoga and wellness Instagram accounts?
Max & Liz: We inspire each other daily to live up to our fullest potential. As for favorite yoga and wellness accounts, we have so many! But here are a few: @yogawithbriohny (Bri’s Equinox yoga video actually inspired Max to start pursuing yoga in college!), @diceyoga (he's a super-strong and embodied practitioner), @carsonclaycalhoun (his strength and flexibility in inversions is inspiring), @bananablondie108 (one of the most authentic, down-to-earth yogis we’ve ever met), @jonny_juicer (for all the juices and his adorable pup), @brianmovement (Max’s movement coach in Dallas) and @frommybowl (soooo many vegan noms. Also, she’s adorable).
Follow Max & Liz on Instagram for more acro poses & wellness tips.