Maybe you’ve encountered some insanely flexible people around campus doing stunts that your parents warned would put you in the hospital. They might be just a few of the millions of people around the world who practice acrobatic yoga.
Acrobatic yoga, commonly shortened to acroyoga, is a practice that combines elements of yoga, acrobatics, and therapeutics. Though it has an element of play about it, acroyoga can be physically intense and eating well can have a big impact on performance.
I had the opportunity to spend the morning with Namita Money, an avid acroyogi and college student at the University of Georgia, and interview her about how she got into acroyoga and what she eats to keep herself balanced. While advocating for animal rights, Namita serves as an example that veganism does not mean sacrificing strength.
Spoon University: To start things off, could you give me a little bit of background information about yourself?
Namita Money: I’m 20 years old, and a second year Wildlife major. At UGA, I am very much into animal rights, so I’m in the animal rights club Speak Out for Species. I’m also in Real Food, which also advocates for locally grown, fresh and sustainable food available at the dining halls; because right now much of what we get in the dining halls is from far away and from huge corporations that are not necessarily treating the animals or people fairly.
Around Athens, I love to do acrobatic yoga at Rubber Soul, and I am part of the Vegans of Athens, which is really nice because we get to have potlucks. I am also a director of A New Hope Animal Sanctuary and Education Center; we have a lot of exotic wildlife that used to be pets, or owned by people who didn’t know how to care for them. We do education outreach and teach local high school, middle and elementary school students why it’s important not to have exotic animals as pets, the different personalities that animals can have, and the faces of animals.
SU: What got you into doing acroyoga?
NM: My parents raised me with an awareness of yoga, because we’re Hindu so it goes a lot with our culture. But seriously practicing yoga, within the past 5 years. My friend Brianna saw that there was a class at Rubber Soul called Acrobatic Yoga, and we both thought it was cool. She had done some circus stuff at her old high school so she was more aware of what it would be about, and I had no idea about it, but it sounded really cool. So we went, and we really loved it so I’ve been coming ever since. It’s been about one and a half years since then.
SU: What is your favorite thing about acroyoga?
NM: Just working with a lot of different people, because it’s like playing with people. It’s a different kind of interaction than you normally get to have with people.
SU: What kind of diet do you follow, and how long have you been following it?
NM: I’m vegan. I’ve been vegan for about 3 years now, but recently I started following more of a whole food, plant-based diet than just vegan. Y’know, being vegan doesn’t mean that you necessarily eat healthy. Switching to more of whole foods and cutting down a lot of oils and stuff I used to cook with, that’s really transitioned me to what I think is a healthy diet.
SU: Did starting yoga or acroyoga have an impact on your dietary habits? If so, what changes have they inspired in you?
NM: Not really. A lot of acroyogis are vegan, a lot of the ones that are in Athens, so it’s kinda helpful to know that. Acroyoga requires a good amount of muscle tone, and a lot of people think that vegans can’t be strong or get enough protein, so that’s reassuring. Since starting acro, I’ve gotten more involved with the importance of being vegan, so I guess I’ve gotten more passionate about it over time.
SU: What do you typically eat in a day?
NM: Typically, I have oatmeal or a smoothie for breakfast. Usually it’s oatmeal if I have a huge day ahead of me. I’m usually always snacking on fruit or something, like a banana or orange or whatever I have. For lunch I have either a sandwich with a lot of veggies in it or a bowl of rice with some sauteed veggies and some herbs like basil. I will do one or two pieces of bread if I don’t have rice with my veggies. For dinner, I generally eat around the same thing, but mix it up with different veggies, or have some pasta or something.
SU: What’s something that you love to eat during or after acro class or jams?
NM: I like to eat chili because it really fills me up. And usually the way I make it, I put a bunch of vegetables in a pot with tomato sauce, and either a bunch of types of beans, black beans or garbanzo beans. That’s usually my go-to because it’s so filling and yummy.
SU: Are there any recipe or meal tips that you think people should know about?
NM: I think people should know about nutritional yeast. It has a similar taste to Parmesan cheese, but it doesn’t have any cholesterol. It is naturally fortified in B12, which a lot of people are deficient in because it comes directly from soil and the bacteria in the soil. It’s something a lot of people haven’t heard of, but it’s actually really good. I have it on a bunch of things, basically everything. Veggies or popcorn, green salad. Or like, I make sauces out of it sometimes.
SU: For the locals, what’s your favorite thing to get at The Grit (local Athens vegan and vegetarian restaurant):
NM: I love the Golden Bowl at The Grit with veggies. They now have this new thing called the Grain Bowl, and that’s really good too. It’s so hard for me to decide what to get when I go to The Grit, but a lot of the time, their special is vegan. So if that’s vegan, I’ll try that out. And their black bean chili is amazing. Sorry, that’s a lot of food.