The University of North Texas is often revered for the spirit of its active and free-thinking students — a charge that applies to those both in and out of the classroom.
At the grassy area in front of Clark Hall, this principle is put into practice as students gather Sunday for the marriage of two lesser-known, but equally interesting pastimes: AcroYoga and slacklining.
“It’s an exciting physical and mental challenge,” senior geography student Will Primrose said of his discipline of slacklining. “Plus, it’s great exercise.”
Slacklining is the act of walking in midair across webbing tied between two trees. Individuals can practice their balance and agility by walking across. It’s similar to tightrope walking, but it uses a narrow strip of woven nylon webbing, which hangs slack, rather than a taut rope.
Primrose said using the mindset often found in traditional yoga can help his slacklining skills.
“The furthest I’ve ever gone is 180 feet, raised up about 400 feet off the ground,” he said.
A few yards away, other students are paired off, working toward the partnered art of AcroYoga.
Roommates Sadaiah Thompson and Chloe Kim are among the participants.
“[Chloe] invited me. It’s a lot of fun,” Thompson said, catching her breath after successfully attempting what’s known as “flying,” in which a person is suspended over a partner’s extended feet by carefully anticipating the force of gravity and body movements.
Kim said this is her third time trying AcroYoga, though she enjoys traditional yoga on a regular basis.
“Neither of us have slacklined before — but we both plan on trying it,” Thompson said.
Jake Kuehler, a senior biology student at UNT, is among the most experienced of the group. He and others demonstrate the flying pose.
“I had tried it before, but it was when a friend of mine tapped into the yoga scene in Dallas that I really got into it,” Kuehler said, noting the differences between AcroYoga and the traditional exercise. “My personal interpretation of it is applied calisthenics with a partner. You’re both trying to achieve a goal, which is the pose.”
Kuehler also said personal space doesn’t apply in AcroYoga because each person must use their body weight in conjunction with another’s so the pose becomes possible.
With both Denton Slackliners and AcroYoga Denton managing their groups through Facebook pages, the title of Sunday’s event, “Monkeys UNITE,” was fitting.
Kuehler and Primrose feel the union of the two sports is only natural due to the duality of skills required. Both spoke of the necessity of practice while also touching on their own openness to new members and practitioners.
“Really, we just want to help promote a community,” Primrose said while balancing on one foot, holding his position on webbing no more than an inch wide. “We want to get more people involved and exposed.”
HARRISON LONG can be reached at 940-566-6897 and via Twitter at @HarrisonGLong.