If you’re a yoga fanatic, then you’ve probably heard about Acroyoga, or have even practiced it. Acroyoga is the latest hype in the world of yoga- and it’s all for the good reasons!
What exactly is Acroyoga?
Well, Acroyoga is basically a variation of yoga that is partner-based and blends the elements of acrobatics, yoga, and sometimes, dance. This practice usually involves engaging with another person (partner) and building trust with them to support and be supported during sessions.
Acroyoga also incorporates elements of massage therapy which can help relieve stress, anxiety, and promote general wellbeing.
You must be wondering, what makes Acroyoga so incredibly popular? Well, Acroyoga is said to promote a wide range of mental and physical benefits. This is due to the fact that its most defining feature is the use of gravity to encourage both stretching and strengthening. The practice is also said to improve circulation, relieve stress, and numerous other benefits (which we will further discuss below).
Unlike traditional yoga practices, Acroyoga is considered to be more vigorous and physically challenging such that it might increase the risk of injuries.
Acroyoga has been around for over two decades. It originated in the 1990s and over the years, the practice has quickly gained massive popularity around the world. Nowadays, you’re bound to find Acroyoga schools all over with professional trainers who have mastered the art really well.
The oldest available video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1eXiT-m5HY)of Acroyoga shows Tirumalai Krishnamacharya, an Indian yoga teacher, a scholar, and Ayurveda healer who is often referred to as the “father of the modern yoga, performing acroyoga with a child with him acting as the base. This video was shot in 1938, which shows just how old this practice is.
Over the years, the practice has gained momentum with more poses cropping up.
How Does Acroyoga Differ from Regular Yoga?
The differences between yoga and acroyoga as very distinct, with the biggest one being that acroyoga requires two or three individuals to perform it while with yoga, there is only one.
There is also the complicity difference. Acroyoga is a little bit more vigorous and challenging compared to yoga and might, therefore, increase the risk of injuries when practiced incorrectly.
Yoga, on the other hand, is completely safe since there are no difficult poses or movements involved. For this reason, acroyoga requires more rapport and synchronization, and hence those involved must be very focused.
Another key difference is that acroyoga tends to build more trust compared to yoga. Simply explained, you basically trust your strength and sense when you’re up, and most importantly, the practice allows you to extend the trust to your partner.
And we cannot also forget to mention that Acroyoga gives you more flexibility than regular yoga, in addition to being more playful and fun.
Now that you understand what acroyoga is and how it differs from yoga, it’s time to learn about the main roles in acroyoga practice
•Base– In acroyoga, the base is the person who lies on the ground with his/her back torso in full contact with the ground. This basically enables their arms and legs to be “bone stacked” which allows for maximum support and stability for the flyer. For example, a base partner may lie on their back with their arms and legs lifted to support their flyer partner
•Flyer– The Flyer is the person who is lifted off the ground by the base. Once off the ground, the flyer can then move in a wide range of dynamic positions while being supported by the base, and generally takes advantage of gravity
•Spotter– A spotter is an individual who is entrusted with the task of monitoring both the base and flyer during a session just to ensure that they land safely in case they slip. They also offer useful tips to the base and flyer on how to improve their positions/movements
Learning Acroyoga- Typical Sessions
Learning acroyoga requires a lot of hard work, dedication, and determination. Anyone who has undertaken this practice can tell you that it takes time, effort, and willingness to learn.
But more importantly, becoming a successful acroyoga trainee requires the teachings and guidance of a highly experienced, professional acroyoga teacher. Basically, having a good acroyoga teacher is one of the keys to success.
Learning the techniques and poses of acroyoga requires a lot of flexibility training, strength training, and of course, technique training.
The goal of flexibility training is to increase or maintain an adequate range of motion in various joints of your body. Flexibility training is also incorporated with the purpose to lengthen your muscles, which is obtained through stretching exercises.
Flexibility workouts may include shoulder and chest, glute stretch, adductor stretch, triceps stretch, single leg hamstring, standing calf, and more. These workouts are usually best performed with the partner at the end of every session.
Building your core through strength training when it comes to acroyoga is important as well as it makes your body stronger, fitter, protects your muscle mass and bones, helps you develop better body mechanics, and most importantly, builds better stability, and basically keeps health issues at bay. Strength training for acroyoga basically builds your core for enhanced performance during sessions.
And finally, learning acroyoga also involves understanding quite a number of techniques, with one of the most essential being the “stacking the bones” technique.
Basically, the stacking the bones technique usually involves the base person keeping their arms and legs straight so as to maximize the weight load on their bones, instead of their muscles with the purpose to support the flyer partner.
What Does a Typical Acroyoga Session Look Like?
Most acroyoga classes are mixed ability, which simply means that the beginners practice in the same class as experienced students. If this is your first time attending an acroyoga class, here is what to expect from the first sessions.
The session usually begins with a Circle Ceremony whose main aim is to promote openness and communication.
The second step into the session usually involves warming up. Warming up help you loosen up your muscles as you get ready for more vigorous workouts.
This part of the session involves warming up with asanas and performing stretching exercises with your partner.
Inversions where you and your partner work on building trust with each other.
And then there is the part where you and your partner start doing acroyoga, which includes acrobatic and flying.
Your first session may seem a little bit overwhelming especially considering how this practice can be challenging. But don’t worry. That’s completely normal.
Once you get used to it, you’ll be surprised at how fun and enjoyable it can be. Furthermore, practice makes perfect. You just have to put in the work and be patient.
Must-Try Acroyoga Poses
There are different types of acro yoga poses. The most popular ones include Front Bird which is a basic pose, Handle Dangle, Whale, Three Person Balancing Pose, Floating Paschi, Back Bird Variation, Star side view, Non L-Basing Pose, Throne Pose with base small compared to the flyer, Folded Leaf Pose, Dancer’s Pose and more.
Like yoga, acroyoga is not only fun and enjoyable, but it also provides an immense amount of health benefits- ranging from psychological benefits to physical benefits. Here are a few benefits that practicing acroyoga can give you;
1.Improved core strength
The first steps of learning acroyoga involve strength training. Incorporating strength training in this practice helps build your core, something that you need to maintain great balance and stability, whether you’re a base partner or flyer.
The good news is that there are so many poses that can help develop your core strength over time. You just have to keep practicing.
2. It improves your concentration and focus
In order to avoid slips/injuries and basically work with your partner better, you need to be attentive and solely focus on maintaining your presence without any distractions. In fact, the safety of both partners depends on the ability to read each other’s visual, verbal, and physical clues without necessarily initiating any discussing.
Because of this, you’ll find yourself having better concentration and your ability to focus without distractions will greatly improve. These are two features that will not only help you in better your acroyoga skills but will also prove to be beneficial in your workplace, school, or any other place that need a lot of focus and concentration.
3.Encourages Muscle Building
Besides building your core, practicing acroyoga will also encourage your body to build muscles more so in the legs, arms, as well as chest as you either lift or balance your partner in the air or as you fly through the air while keeping your body taut.
Acroyoga is a proven muscle workout and can also help you burn fat and lose weight.
4. Helps you overcome the fear of falling
It’s no doubt that a huge number of people are afraid of heights. This is absolutely normal. But did you know that you can easily conquer the fear of heights and falling by practicing acroyoga? Well, you do now!
This practice teaches you how to defy gravity through mindful deceleration. Additionally, as a flyer, getting support from the base will keep you from slipping and constant panics.
5.Relieves stress and anxiety, and promotes relaxation
Like yoga, acroyoga happens to be great anxiety and stress reliever, thanks to its therapeutic benefits. As a restorative form of yoga, acroyoga helps to adjust the nervous system and basically rests your adrenal glands, promoting great body balance and stability.
Additionally, a good number of acroyoga poses are designed to cultivate a deep sense of awareness, increase your flexibility, and also get your body into a workout mode, and these will all lead to a more stress/anxiety-free day-to-day life.
6.Builds stronger bonds
Acroyoga allows both partners to build stronger and lasting bonds through regular contact, communication, and of course, play. It’s all about the constant giving and receiving experienced by both the base and flyer. There have been instances where both the base and flyer end up becoming life partners.
This is basically a practice where human connection and a strong sense of communication are formed. It allows the involved parties to find unity which promotes deep self-love and empathy for others.
7.Promotes Weight Loss
Acroyoga is a more intense form of yoga, which makes it more vigorous and challenging. But these are the things that make this practice so great for weight loss. It’s known to burn more calories compared to yoga, so it may work perfectly for those who need to shed a few pounds.
8. It’s fun and enjoyable
Practicing acroyoga is no doubt fun and truly enjoyable. Having a partner whom you interact with on a regular basis is definitely fun. Plus performing the intriguing poses is ever more exciting and fun!
Acroyoga Potential Risks
As we stated earlier, acroyoga is more vigorous compared to traditional yoga and may, therefore, cause some serious injuries. For this reason, safety is key in such a high-risk practice.
To minimize risks and avoid acroyoga injuries, it’s always important to have a spotter by your side. A spotter’s main purpose is to ensure that the flyer lands safely in case of any accidental slips.
Another important thing to do is to avoid practicing while tired as your response time will be significantly slower, and making rational decisions will be practically impossible.
Also, if you’re a base partner, avoid practicing with someone who is a lot more heavier than you. It will be hard to balance properly, not to mention risking getting his/her entire weight dumped on you.
Like any other sport, it’s also important to warm up before beginning any acroyoga session. Warming up will loosen up your muscles, joints, and boost your energy levels as well as stamina. Doing some basic stretching before a session will also get your lymphatic fluids and blood flowing.
Acroyoga Basics- Wrapping it Up
Acroyoga is a mind-blowing practice that is not only good for your physical health and fitness, but it’s also great for your soul. At first, the practice may seem a little bit challenging, but once you strengthen your core and learn all the required techniques, you’ll always find yourself looking forward to the next session!
A simple web search will help you find an Acroyoga school close to you. Alternatively, you can sign up for an acro yoga class online. Hopefully, our comprehensive article on acroyoga basics will help you better understand the practice and maybe encourage you to practice it.