AcroYoga - what it is,who it is for,how to start & 5 reasons to try it
By now there is a pretty good chance you have heard of AcroYoga. If the name does not ring a bell, you have probably seen it being done, but just did not know the term - AcroYoga. Do you remember those strange pictures your fit friends sometimes post on social media － two or more people arranged in some weird, dangerous looking positions? Yes, that’s it. It was not just them being silly or trying to hurt their backs, it was AcroYoga!
AcroYoga has gained some popularity in the past few years and is becoming more and more popular as a form of exercise.
We know what you are thinking － it looks super dangerous, the people who practice it have either joined a circus or are extremely strong and flexible, and normal human beings should never attempt to try it. No! You couldn’t be more wrong!
AcroYoga is a great type of exercise for almost everyone. If you don’t believe us, read on to find out why you should at least give it a go.
What is AcroYoga?
Let’s start with that weird sounding name. As you have probably figured out by now AcroYoga is a combination of two things － acrobatics and yoga.
But that is just a name. In fact, AcroYoga is a combination of three traditions: acrobatics, yoga… and Thai massage!
Who is it for?
If are not very sporty or flexible and you have seen some pictures of AcroYoga positions, you may be convinced that it is not the type of exercise you should be considering for your next workout session.
But that is not true at all. Sure, it requires some level of strength and flexibility － just as any other exercise you have ever tried does. Remember that first time at the gym? Not everything seemed so simple at first, did it? Even going for a run was not a piece of cake the first time, was it?
It is the same with AcroYoga － you need to start slowly with some beginner’s classes and work your way up. Nobody will ask you to do extremely advanced positions during your first session.
There are only three things to remember when thinking of starting your adventure with AcroYoga:
- Guidance: just like with almost any other sport, it is good to get some guidance when you first start. Look up some AcroYoga classes for beginners in your local area or book a private session with a certified AcroYoga instructor.
- Injuries: before your first class, talk to your AcroYoga teacher about any injuries you have or had and physical conditions which might affect your ability to practice this type of yoga. Your instructor should be able to tell whether you can participate in the class or if there are any positions you should be avoiding.
- Trusted partner: as mentioned before, AcroYoga is a partner yoga, so you will need someone to practice with. You will have to practice together, touch each other and rely on each other’s strength - so make sure you choose someone you feel very comfortable with and whom you trust. You will have to be pretty close to the person during the practice, so choose wisely.
How to choose your AcroYoga partner
If you have decided that you want to give AcroYoga ago, you are probably now wondering who you should take to the first class as your yoga partner.
Firstly, we should explain some basics. You and your partner will need to decide who will be the Base and who will be the Flyer.
AcroYoga is a “partner yoga”, which means that you practice it with another person. So during the practice, you get the benefits of the regular yoga practice (stretching, yoga positions, meditation), technical influences of acrobatics (lifting the other person or being lifted) and elements of Thai massage (which involves acupressure).
This type of yoga was invented by dancer Jenny Sauer-Klein and yogi Jason Nemer in 2003, in the United States. Since then it has gained great popularity and spread to other parts of the world.
The Base is the person on the mat who supports the Flyer and provides the foundation for all of the poses. If you decide to be the Base, make sure you bring a comfortable yoga mat, you’ll need to spend a lot of time with your back on it.
The Flyer, on the other hand, is the person “up in the air”, elevated by the Base.
Both the Flyer and Base need strength, balance, and flexibility so both roles are equally important for a successful AcroYoga practice.
So how to choose the right partner? As mentioned above, choose someone who you trust and feel comfortable with. It can be your best friend, partner, mother, sister, brother or anyone really. Just make sure you chose someone you can depend on. If you ask your neighbor who you rarely speak to, things could get quite awkward.
Later on, when you become more advanced, you might be attending AcroYoga workshops or joining AcroYoga groups where you will find people who are also familiar with the exercises. It is a great way to meet new people to practice with. When you are both advanced, you will know what to do, which will make things much easier.
But if you are new to AcroYoga and not sure what to expect, it is best to start with someone you know. This way you will feel more relaxed and will be able to focus on the practice rather than thinking about the possible awkwardness.
Another option is to book a private lesson and practice with your yoga instructor as your partner. Well trained AcroYoga teachers are professionals and know how to make these first steps relaxed and fun. Plus, they are super advanced so you can trust that they know what they are doing and won’t injure you.
However, if you feel comfortable with practicing with a stranger (and a lot of people do), you can just show up to the class and find your yoga partner there! Most classes don’t require you to bring a partner.
And the last tip, which might seem pretty weird, but trusts us, it can save you some awkwardness － make sure you bring proper clothes. You will need to stretch, bend and do some funny poses so make sure your outfit is comfortable and won’t reveal too much when you move. You want to be focusing on the practice, not an annoying t-shirt or loose pants.
Benefits of AcroYoga
- Concentration － AcroYoga can really improve your concentration. In order to do all the positions right without any falls or injuries, you have to really focus on what you and your partner are doing. Once you start, you will notice that all your attention is focused on the practice. You can treat it as a form of meditation too. You can later transfer these skills into your everyday life － you will notice that concentrating on other things when you need to will become easier.
- Better relationships － the key to a successful AcroYoga session is good connection and cooperation with your yoga partner. Of course, it doesn’t have to happen straight away. When you first start exercising together there might be some misunderstandings, funny moments and hopefully a lot of laughter. But as you exercise more together you will learn how to trust each other, communicate without words and become great yoga partners. It will definitely strengthen your relationship, whether it’s your friend, partner or sister you exercise with. This can also help you with other relationships － AcroYoga teaches you to become more aware of other people’s emotions, the way they behave and how they communicate, even without words.
- Body awareness － we use our bodies every day but very often we are not very aware of them. When you practice AcroYoga you have to gain that awareness in order to get the positions right. The more you practice the better you become at realizing what your body is doing, how to position it and how you need to move in order to achieve the desired effects. This is a great ability to use in other sports or dance as well.
- Self-esteem － like almost any other sport, AcroYoga can give you amazing satisfaction. As you progress and start introducing more and more advanced poses, you will naturally feel better about yourself. With AcroYoga there is also the obvious “wow” factor. Not everyone is able to make impressive, freaky positions up in the air! It takes practice, strength, and courage. So if you manage to do even the most basic poses you are really doing great. Plus you look amazing!
So if you are curious about AcroYoga just give it a go! It is a great exercise for your entire body and can be a lot of fun too!