By: Vivek Roy, Yoga Blogger & Traveler from India
AcroYoga or Acro Yoga is a type of partner yoga. As the name suggests, AcroYoga is a combination of Acrobatics, Yoga and Thai massage. It is a way to communicate with others as well as with one’s own self using our bodies. It is based on trust, mutual support, active participation and connection. The three disciplines that form AcroYoga are helpful in the following way. Acrobatics is a human body performance which helps a person to organize and control his balance, agility and motor coordination. It makes widespread use of gymnastic and athletic activities. Yoga is a mixture of physical, mental and spiritual exercise. It is a discipline that helps to attain our set goals. It is a meditative practice which helps in controlling our body and mind. Thai massage is the traditional practice which recovers acupressure, Indian Ayurvedic values and yoga postures. Thai massage helps people to relax, reduce muscle pain and boosts a person’s soul and mind. AcroYoga can even involve dance forms!
Most of us believe that Partner Yoga and AcroYoga is one and the same thing. But it is not so!
Where, on one hand, Partner Yoga focuses on supported poses which helps in deep stretching, AcroYoga, on the other hand, emphasizes strength, gymnastics and acrobatics. It is a therapeutic form of physical exercise. AcroYoga is more vigorous than a Yoga pose and that’s why one needs to practice it carefully and cautiously.
The origin of AcroYoga can be traced back from the USA. It began in the year of 2003 and was developed by Jenny Sauer- Klein, who was a dancer, and Jason Nemer, who was a Yogi. Since 1999, the term had been used but in the year 2003, it was codified for the first time. Before that, there was no proper form or structure of AcroYoga. Since then, AcroYoga has proved to be dynamic and pervasive. The philosophy and principles of AcroYoga, according to them, was 1) Yoga- which helps to establish a connection between our breathing and our soul. 2) Acrobatic practices (Solar) – which develops trust, and authority since they are technical and powerful in nature and 3) Thai Massage (Lunar) – which heals, encourages to improve our listening skills, teaches us to move on and to love.
There are three crucial roles in AcroYoga. These are:
- Base- Base is the person who has the most contact with the ground. Usually, Base is the person who does most of the lifting. He has his entire back touching the ground and he continues in a position which facilitates maximum stability to him. The Flyer helps the Base to lie down on his back. In other words, he is the person supporting the Flyer. The Base needs to ensure that there are no unnecessary curvatures while lying down on the ground.
- Flyer- Flyer is the person who is lifted by the Base. He may do a number of different positions. A flyer needs to have core strength, balance and agility.
- Spotter- Lastly, the third party to AcroYoga is a Spotter. A Spotter is a person who ensures safety and catches the Flyer if he loses balance. The Spotter may even assist and recommend the Base and the Flyer for different positions, to improve the performing ones or in guiding them with advanced landing skills.
The benefits of AcroYoga include:
- Healthier blood circulation
- Helps to build core strength
- Reduces muscles and joint pain
- Increases our concentration
- Inspires us to focus on the present moment
- Enhances flexibility of our body
- Boosts our immunity
- Develops our trust
- Brings community warmth and comfort
Simple and different AcroYoga Forms include:
- Plank and Bird: In this type of AcroYoga, the Flyer comes and stands beside the Base’s hips. The Flyer needs to stand close to the Base so that the Base can touch the toes of the Flyer. Now the Base raises his legs up and places his feet at the arch of the hip bones of the front of the Flyer’s body. The Flyer can adjust as per his comfort. The Flyer’s fingers should point forward, with the Base’s finger opening out to his side. The Flyer then leans forward and the Base lifts the Flyer up. It needs to be ensured that the Flyer’s and the Base’s hip is aligned in the same line and the Flyer’s shoulders are directly above the Base’s shoulders. Also, it needs to be ensured that their arms do not bend, and it is in a straight line while performing this pose. It is recommended to not stop breathing. While landing, the Base bends their legs and the Flyer lands on the ground.
- Folded Leaf: This type of AcroYoga is therapeutic and it provides the Flyer with a back massage. It is a stretching exercise for the spine. Here, the Base places the feet at the hip bones of the front of the Flyer’s body with the toes pointing out. Then they hold each other’s hand and the Flyer folds himself towards the Base’s legs with his own legs in a straddled position, wide apart with his toes pointing down. The Flyer needs to ensure that his legs are wide apart and are pointing down towards the ground. While landing, come to a straight position; bend your legs and not your arms.
- Foot to Hand: In this type of AcroYoga, the Flyer stands beside the Base’s head. The Base has his back on the ground and knees bent, with the soles of his feet firmly on the ground. The Base brings his legs up slowly and extends it fully so that the Flyer can touch Base’s feet. The Base keeps his triceps down on the ground and raises his forearm to form a right angle. The Flyer then places one foot on the Base’s hand then the other so that he is standing on the Base’s hand. The Base wraps his peace fingers around the Flyer’s heel and the other fingers around his feet. This can develop into a full stand.
Author Bio – Vivek Roy is an enthusiastic Yoga blogger and Traveler from India. He teaches yoga teacher training in Rishikesh, India. He loves to travel and share the knowledge of yoga around the world. For more information about him visit his website.