Rachel Fifer ’12: Acrobatic Yoga Instructor Says Wesleyan is “Hugely Instrumental”

Olivia DrakeMarch 6, 20125min
Rachel Fifer '12 teaches the class DANC420.01 “Acrobatic Partner Yoga and Thai Massage” at Wesleyan.

Q: Rachel, please explain what acrobatic yoga is, and how you got involved.

A: AcroYoga, as it’s called, is acrobatic partner yoga that mostly involves a “base” who uses their legs to hold a “flyer” in the air as they both collaborate to move through therapeutic poses as well as acrobatic maneuvers. I got involved when Ryan Rogers and Miles Bukiet ’11 led an AcroYoga student forum last year.

Q: What is the partner class you teach and how many students are in the class?

A: Lizzie Simon ’12 and I teach a student forum class called Acrobatic Partner Yoga and Thai Massage for a full credit. Seventeen students are enrolled for credit, but about 30 people take the class in total, because it’s so much fun it’s worth it even without credit!

Rachel Fifer '12 (denim shorts) and Morgan Hill '14 (black pants) practice acrobatic yoga behind the Usdan University Center Feb. 23.

Q: What are the benefits of acrobatic partner yoga?

A: Phew…I could go on for ages. It improves flexibility, strength, trust in yourself, trust in a partner, body awareness, comfort with your own body and others’, breath awareness in yourself and others, balance, connection with communities around you…It’s a practice that makes you feel confident, challenged, and it still super goofy and relaxed.

Q: Are you going to become licensed?

A: At the moment, I can’t afford to become licensed. Someday, maybe.

Q: What are your academic interests?

A: I’m majoring in Latin American studies and environmental studies. I love understanding how people and societies think. So history, sociology, psychology, politics…pretty much anything related to how things work.

Q: And other hobbies?

A: Folk dance! And singing and playing instruments. But mostly dancing. Blues, contra, salsa, waltz, swing, international.

Q: Why did you choose Wesleyan?

A: Honestly? Because after my dad made me check it out because it was in a book of “colleges that change the world,” they gave me the biggest scholarship. Just turned out that Wesleyan was a nearly perfect fit for me. I got lucky! I’m so very glad I picked Wesleyan. I feel like the ways that Wesleyan has challenged me (comfort with sexuality, being aware of the immense weight words carry, questioning who writes history) and at the same time provided me with community and opportunity (dancing, a small enough school that I always see familiar faces, the chance to teach my own class) has been hugely instrumental in my growth as a person.

Q: What are your plans after graduating?

A: I’m saving up money to live in Spain with a friend of mine for the summer and then moving to Asheville, N.C. to teach AcroYoga and work with an environmentally-minded community organizing group and dance all the time because it’s the city with the best dance scene in the country!