Meet Max Kopeikin!
We’ve introduced an exciting AcroYoga class with an equally exciting and playful teacher Max Kopeikin. His passion for yoga, community, and playing upside down will inspire you to roll out your mat and partner up, and experience movement in a whole new way!
Tell us about yourself! What was your first job? Any fun hobbies or personal interests?
My first job was while I was in high school. I had a summer job at a mall location of the Metropolitan Museum of Art Store selling replicas of Egyptian jewelry and fancy ties.
In terms of personal interests, I have a deep passion for language and international travel. I love to get to know cultures and the way they connect through their language(s). I love teaching yoga and AcroYoga in other languages. I began my yoga and AcroYoga teaching career in Barcelona, teaching in Spanish, English and Catalán. Barcelona is my home base in Europe, I got my graduate degree in Dance/Movement Therapy while living there and went abroad there during college. I still travel to Europe every summer and teach with friends in Paris, Barcelona, Brighton and try to visit new places every time I go.
In terms of hobbies, I love to cook! I have been obsessed with cooking since I was a three year old boy. It is still a passion and hobby to this day. Though I am not sure I could ever do it as a profession, I love to get into the nitty gritty of detail-oriented, long process recipes.
How did you become interested in yoga?
I started practicing yoga a little over 11 years ago. I had just joined my high school’s dance company and part of our regiment included yoga. This is where the spark of my yoga passion was first ignited.
Tell us about your yoga journey. What style you started in, and how you got started with AcroYoga
When I began with yoga, in high school, it was alignment-focused yoga. I am pretty sure the teacher was Iyengar certified. Dance and Iyengar go hand in hand, especially dance forms that focus on alignment such as ballet or release. I feel so lucky that my first yoga was rooted in alignment, I learned so much in a safe and clear way on the beginning of my path. I also trained in many other movement forms as part of that dance company including aerial silks and lindy hop (an acrobatic and jazzy form of swing).
Then in college at U.C. Berkeley, I did some vinyasa classes at the gym and with my friend and former professor Toni Mar. I also did quite a bit of asana-based warmups in many of my contemporary dance classes at Cal. I went abroad to Barcelona and took modern dance classes that incorporated AcroYoga into the partner warmups, and this was the first time I had been exposed to the practice. I was in love with it immediately! My dance teacher, Mauro, told me it was from San Francisco and I should find AcroYoga when I go back home. I moved back to the US to finish undergrad, then I moved to San Francisco upon graduation in 2010.
Soon after the move, I started taking Anusara Yoga and AcroYoga classes with Jeremy Simon- a close teacher, friend and role model. I really enjoyed the blend of AcroYoga and a regular Anusara Yoga practice. Anusara taught me so much more about alignment, with all new frameworks and terms but clearly rooted in Iyengar Yoga. I also started to study with some other Anusara, Jivamukti Yoga and Alignment-focused Hatha Yoga teachers who have been influential and formative on my path such as Sean Haleen, Jill Ableson, Amanda Moran and Chrisandra Fox Walker.
This is the period where I started to really commit to the path and the practice. I did a lot of workshops, classes and trainings with my closest teachers. These years of intense yoga practice culminated in doing a 200 hour teacher training, that included some of my teachers, in general “Hatha Yoga”.
I moved to Barcelona for grad school, and began to teach Hatha Yoga at Yoga con Gracia. While in school and teaching in Barcelona, AcroYoga decided to do a teacher training outside of Barcelona for the first time at Om Shanti in Granollers, Catalunya. I had gathered the complex web of yoga, acrobatics and Thai massage prerequisites over 5-6 years, including the 2 required 30-hour AcroYoga Immersions.
So, I decided to participate in the Level One teacher training. It was an amazing experience in which I met so many friends and made long term co-teaching relationships with people around the globe. I began teaching AcroYoga classes in Barcelona and co-teaching workshops in Barcelona and throughout Europe with my friends and fellow yoga and AcroYoga teachers Eva Lopez, Melanie Logerot and Neilon Pitamber. I still teach with these people every summer.
Since then, I moved back to the states for a Masters in Expressive Arts Therapy at CIIS. I started teaching yoga and AcroYoga at Yoga Tree, taking over the oldest AcroYoga class ever which was started by the founders of AcroYoga (Jason and Jenny) at Yoga Tree in San Francisco. As part of my 500-hour yoga teacher training I studied with amazing teachers such as Judith Lasater, Jill Ableson, Sean Haleen, Betty Roi, Harvey Deutch, Noah Mazé, Abby Tucker and Shiva Rea- most of the work with the alignment-focused former Anusara Yoga teachers.
Recently, I went to Mexico to take part in the first ever Bilingual (Eng/Span) Level 2 AcroYoga Teacher Training. I now teach both yoga and AcroYoga at Yoga Garden SF and I am so excited about bringing AcroYoga to YGSF and in participating in such an amazing, warm and alignment-centered yoga community.
What are some advice you have for those interested in trying AcroYoga but feel too intimidated?
In my classes SAFETY IS #1. I want to be doing handstands in my 90s, so no “trick” is worth risking that for me. I apply this value to my teaching as well- my focus is on alignment, foundations, connection and communication NOT achieving tricks. Also, we work with spotters to insure safety even if there is a mistake in the learning process. AcroYoga is a movement practice that incorporates Yoga, Acrobatics and Thai Massage.
AcroYoga classes offer a safe and reliable entry point into the world of partner acrobatics for people coming from the yoga or bodywork world. In my classes at Yoga Garden we offers something for all levels, including absolute beginners. AcroYoga is a dynamic practice that does require strength and flexibility; nevertheless, the use of modifications and props can assist with common issues. You can come if you are brand new to AcroYoga, if you are brand new to Yoga and/or if you are slightly afraid or nervous.
Aside from yoga, what are you truly passionate about?
Radical Queer politics and alternative communities. From Castro community events, to Burning Man, to teaching AcroYoga for free at Radical Faerie gatherings, I love to explore the bounds of human connection and community. Additionally, it is just so important to me to share the practice of yoga with my Queer community in the Bay Area and around the world.
What is next for Max?
Continue to learn about, teach and share AcroYoga and Yoga. I have one more semester of classes for my Masters, and then I am off to teach a bit in the summer in Europe as I do every summer. Upon my return, I start my clinical practicum in Expressive Art Therapy where I will blend movement, dance, yoga, AcroYoga and psychotherapies to help heal mind-body-spirit.
I will continue to teach open Yoga and AcroYoga classes regularly in SF and travel teach all around the world. In March, I am off to Medellín, Colombia to be a teaching assistant for a 30-hour AcroYoga Lunar Immersion with my friends and teachers Ale and Justin. Then, after that, I will be planning my own AcroYoga Lunar Immersions around the world including in my current community of San Francisco.
We hope you had as much fun getting to know Max as we did. Intrigued? Come check out his AcroYoga classes