Acroyoga is gaining popularity in worlds of wellness,
spirituality, and self-care as an inventive way of exercising, gaining
mindfulness, and building relationships with other people. The workout combines
the presence and serenity of yoga with the heart-rate and athletics of
gymnastics, all while you work with a partner to explore the present moment
with your bodies. It can be a spiritual experience, a sensual moment, or just
another great way to get in shape.
What is Acroyoga?
We’ve talked a little bit about acroyoga before when we touched on the different partner exercises to keep you in shape. Acroyoga involves two people performing a single yoga pose together, their bodies working in tandem with gravity to create new stretches and exercises for strength. Some of these poses are static and stretch-oriented, while other poses involve motion and are muscular and explosive. You and your partner work together in athletic, emotional ways to perform dual feats of exercise and athleticism on a shared acroyoga journey. You might have a single partner that you work with, or you might get into acroyoga and experience it with a variety of partners. Acroyoga can be done at home or outside, and it can be done through online tutorials or in professionally taught classes.
Acroyoga is a combination of acrobatics and yoga, influenced by everything American Cheerleading and Thai Massage. Acroyogi’s come in all varieties of strength, size, and flexibility–and a variety of poses make it accessible for everyone, and not just ex-gymnasts partnered with ex-football linebackers. Like regular yoga, some poses are more difficult than others and shouldn’t be attempted until you’ve got a bit of training and increased strength and flexibility, but there are a number of poses that are great for beginners (I’ve got a few you can try today at the bottom of the post).
New Ways of Experiencing Human Connection
AcroYoga is for anyone, friends, couples, or random
partners. There’s an incredible experience to be had with your best friend as
you interact in new ways and move each other around. There’s bonding and
intimacy to be derived from doing it with a romantic partner. If you learn to
do Acroyoga with strangers at the gym in a class, you’ll become more
comfortable around strangers. Many of us have become comfortable talking to
strangers from 6 feet away over a table–fewer of us are comfortable touching or
trusting strangers with our bodies.
There’s a wonderful experience of new types of human
connection to be had through Acroyoga, whoever you choose to do it with.
Acroyoga pushes us to connect with new people in new ways, and connect with old
friends in ways we haven’t. Doing acroyoga with a romantic partner can be scary
at first, or doing it with a best friend can be embarrassing at first, but if
we are open and honest about our emotions while doing it anyway, it can be a
great way of pushing relationships to new levels.
Acroyoga: The Joy of Childhood Sports
If you played sports as a kid, or if you currently play on a
city league or intramural team, you know the pure joy of getting along with
teammates and working toward a goal. Such joys of human connection can easily
be lost in the gym or on runs, where workouts become individual endeavours.
While it is certainly valuable to compete against ourselves, physically
participating and competing with others is a great joy of life. We learn to
communicate our physical needs, pay attention to our bodies, and trust each
other by doing acroyoga.
Acroyoga combines the teamwork of sports with the bonding of
a shared task and a single bodily goal. On a basketball court, you work with
teammates to score and defend; on a yoga mat, you work with your partner’s body to achieve poses and workout. You
need each other in new ways.
Play Every Role
We’ve all learned throughout our lives, without sometimes
realizing it, the skills of activity and passivity. We learn to move things,
and to allow ourselves to be moved. Skating and surfing require a complex
relationship with the board and the ground/waves, in which the person allows
themselves to be moved by the ground/waves while moving the board. It’s a
beautiful, spiritual practice for people who master it.
Acroyoga allows the same complex relationship between the
one moving and the one being moved. In acrobatic acroyoga, the more active
version, there is a base (mover) and flyer (being moved), and sometimes a
spotter to help prevent injuries and ensure the moves go smoothly. In
therapeutic acroyoga, which is more grounding, there is a person moving and a
person being moved. By learning both sides of acroyoga and participating in
them with a partner, we gain conscious awareness of the two equally valuable
skills of moving and being moved. In our fast-paced world that values control
and confidence, we often forget about the skill of being moved, which allows us
to reduce anxiety and take the world as it comes to us, riding the waves of
life. We need the dual skills of moving and being moved, and acroyoga reminds
us of both skills and helps us perform bodily meditations on their arts.
Three Acroyoga Poses to Try Today
Don’t just read an article on acroyoga, try out three poses!
Grab a friend or partner, and learn by doing instead of just reading.
Downward Dog L-Shape
A great beginning position for people familiar with more
traditional yoga. One person gets into downward dog as the base, while the
flyer places their feet just above the tailbone of the base and uses their
hands to push themselves up into a half-handstand L-shape. The pressure of the
flyer forces the back of the downward dog to straighten out and stretch nicely.
Plank on Plank
A great beginners pose. The base person gets into a normal
plank position, and holds still as a firm foundation. The other person faces
the opposite direction, placing their hands on the base’s ankles and then
resting their feet on the base’s shoulders. It results in a single person in
plank position at the bottom, and a second person in plank position facing the
opposite way on top.
A little more challenging. In a front plank, the base lays
on the ground face up and positions their feet in the air with heels facing
forward. The flyer rests their hips against the bottoms of the base’s feet, and
reaches forward to take the bases hands. The base then uses their legs to
slowly guide the flyer up into an airborne plank position, supported by the
base’s legs at the flyer’s hips and the base’s hands at the flyer’s hands. The
end result looks like one person laying on their back with hands and legs up in
the air, supporting the other person who is flying forward.