Yoga is an ancient and widespread practice that started in India over 5,000 years ago. It has many aspects that connect the mind to the body. The eight limbs of yoga, which we’ll talk about a bit later, are the foundation of the practice. It goes on to use asanas (poses) to achieve dynamic meditation. Though this practice is really traditional, many modern twists of yoga exist such as Paddle Board Yoga, Hot Yoga, Aerial Yoga, and Acroyoga, just to name a few.
But we’re here for acroyoga only; one variation of yoga that is partner based. It combines elements of acrobatics, yoga, and even dance.
Anyone in Paris want to practice AcroYoga?
— Tim Ferriss (@tferriss) 30 June 2016
This trend has been readily adopted and publicised by well-known personalities such as Lena Dunham, Tim Ferriss, and Gisele Bundchen. All of whom are known for posting their AcroYoga poses to social media – serving as great inspiration to those wanting to get into it!
A Brief History of AcroYoga
The practice of acroyoga and the creation of the culture was said to be founded in 1999 by Jessie Goldberg and Eugene Poku in Montreal. This term was later made official by Jason Nemer and Jenny Sauer-Klein.
So where does the ‘acro’ part come in?
Acrobatics is closely related to gymnastics, made popular by the circus, showing high levels of balance, agility, and coordination. Like yoga, it is thousands of years old and it was prevalent in ancient Greek and Roman societies. Merging acrobatics into yoga gives you… yes you got it.
Though you begin acroyoga with many static and beginner poses, more advanced acroyogis use dancing to create art through movement in dynamic poses or a pose sequence. Yoga and acrobatics play a larger role in acroyoga than dance. However all three of these ancient practices merge to promote a holistic and dynamic experience like no other.
The Key Principles
Acroyoga requires two people, known as partners. One plays the base and the other plays the flyer (the one being supported).
Many aspects of acroyoga overlap, however it focuses mainly on the connection of mind and body through dynamic meditation to achieve Samadhi; a trance like state. Physical movement only focuses one of the eight limbs of yoga, the rest include:
- Withdraw from senses
- Meditation to achieve self-awareness and self-knowledge
- Ethical integrity
So, what does this mean for acroyoga? Expect the grace of dance, acrobat movements and the connect of mind and body that yoga requires. This encourages a platform where trust, communication, and acceptance thrive.
Solar and Lunar Acroyoga
Acrobatic (Solar) and therapeutic (Lunar) are the two types of acroyoga which are often practiced together..
Lunar acroyoga uses Thai massage to calm, soothe, and stretch. Thai massage itself is a healing art that includes a mix of acupressure, aspects of Indian alternative medicine, and asanas.
With Lunar, the base places themselves on certain pressure points of their partner,. This promotes acupressure by using gravity to massage and relax. Many of Lunar’s movements stem from the Indian alternative medicine, Ayurveda.
One of the key beliefs held by the alternative Indian medicine is that balance promotes health. So a balanced and holistic practice is important in Lunar yoga. The end of a session is often after the partners switch roles and complete all positions. An equal session.
Balance between partners is also important in Solar yoga. This allows both partners to experience the weightlessness, balance, and stretch of the flyer, and the strength, coordination, and support of the base. Achieving these positions is a display of intense body control, trust, and concentration. The partnership between these positions builds a unique connect between the flyer and the base.
How to begin Acroyoga
Acroyoga is for anyone with any body type and the community is very welcoming to beginners. You can get involved, no matter your budget. Most yoga studios offer acro either ad-hoc as a class, or sometimes as an event or workshop. Some studios in areas where this is widespread can even offer exclusive services!
Classes and workshops may not be offered nearby, the practice is still growing, but good Youtube videos can help beginners. If you are interested in learning from YouTube, check out “Beginner Acro Yoga Class with Dylan Werner Yoga & Ashley Galvin” by Cody – Online fitness videos” embedded below.
Lots of resources are available to people that are interested in joining the vast community of acroyoga. Facebook is also a great resource. Many cities have an acroyoga page where meet-ups in parks or workshops in the area, are posted. To start, have an open mind and partner up. Yoga studios often promise to pair you up if you need.
You don’t need to be really fit, flexible, and have a certain body type. This is not the case! With the right training, Acroyoga is for everyone. Yogis didn’t just start out flexible, they worked hard to get that way. Flexibility is something that it enhances too but it is not a quality that is a required for your practice though. Don’t hesitate to get stuck in and learn the basics at your nearest spot.
Benefits of Acroyoga
Lots of studies show that when people practice acroyoga regularly they physically benefit. Better digestion, circulation, heart rate, strength, flexibility, and decreased pain and muscle stiffness are just some benefits. Mental wellbeing is also improved through lower stress levels because yoga merges your body and your mind.
Not only does acroyoga all of the benefits of yoga, it has the additional benefits from acrobatics and dance. This mashup of tradition is perfect to strengthen the bond between friends, partners, family, or even strangers!
The accomplishment acroyogis feel after completing a new or hard pose is like no other and will always be highly rewarding. Sharing this with your partner is simply euphoric. Whether you are an expert yogi or on the search for a new hobby , acroyoga could be the one for you!