Acroyoga, a discipline that mixes yoga and acrobatics!
Acroyoga, also spelled Acro-yoga, is a mix between yoga and acrobatics. You’ve probably already seen photos on social networks or people practicing in the park near you. But what is Acroyoga? This complete guide from Yogom will help you answer all your questions about this dizzying practice.
What is Acroyoga?
Acroyoga is a yoga that has values of sharing, trust, union and benevolence in which practitioners perform acrobatic figures inspired by the asanas in 2 or 3. This discipline was invented by Acroyoga Montreal with Jessie Goldberg and Eugene Poku in 1999. It was then taken over byAcroyoga International in San Francisco with Jason Nemer and Jenny Klein in 2003 who developed it worldwide by adding Thai massage to the sessions. Nevertheless, one should not think that this technique is recent, one found already yogi masters adept in acrobatics in the 30s.
In contrast to other yoga systems, where Sanskrit terms are used, in Acroyoga, English is used. Indeed, this choice allows all practitioners to understand the instructions, no matter where they come from, which is important for the connection between them and their safety.
In Acroyoga, each participant has a well-defined role. The first participant is the base. He is the one who has direct contact with the ground, his back must be well supported on the ground since he will carry his partner. The second practitioner is the flyer, also called aerobatics. It is the person who “steals”. It is carried and supported on the hands, legs and hips of the base. She must look for fluidity in her movements because it is on it that the elegance and the success of the figure rest. Finally, the spotter or helmsman is the last person of the trio. It is indispensable, especially for beginners, because it is the one who supports these two colleagues by ensuring their safety and by catching them in case of a fall.
Note that Acroyoga is physically demanding and requires strength, flexibility and coordination. It is therefore preferable to have a good level of yoga or good physical health to start. However, if you don’t have all these qualities, it is still open to all with less impressive exercises but which will make you work!
How does an acroyoga session work?
An Acroyoga session always begins with a warm-up to gently wake up the body. It consists in practicing stretching and breathing exercises found in classical yoga such as the head down dog, the child’s pose or the cat and cow pose. Nevertheless, the goal of an Acroyoga class is to connect and share with others, so these notions are also found in the warm-up. Traditional yoga postures can then be practiced in duo, always with the objective of keeping touch or eye contact to improve the complicity of the pair. Once the first part is over, the heart of an Acroyoga session consists of performing acrobatic positions with your partner while being guided by the teacher. At the end of the session, duo massages can be done in order to relax and release all the muscles that have been heavily used. Finally, the class ends with a final relaxation to regain a calm and relaxed state of mind.
There are many ways to learn how to practice Acroyoga. Initially, you can sign up for classes that usually last between 1.5 and 2 hours. However, although it is now easy to find studios in large cities, it remains more complicated in small towns and villages.
Another option is workshops. They are often grouped by four and are practiced over 2 days since each workshop lasts, in general, 2 hours. You will frequently find these workshops in the form of intensive 12-hour weekends.
Another way to practice Acroyoga is through immersion. These events offer you an intensive 5-day practice. There are three types of dives to suit all levels: elementary for beginners, lunar for intermediate to advanced levels who would like a more therapeutic approach and solar for intermediate to advanced levels who prefer a more acrobatic approach.
Finally, the most common technique to practice Acroyoga is jamming. They consist in meeting with other Acroyoga practitioners and practicing freely. Acroyogis are mainly found in parks or at the beach to enjoy a relaxing environment that helps concentration. It is a very good way to start Acroyoga and to be regular. Indeed, this method allows easy access and flexible sessions to fit everyone’s schedule, so you won’t lose motivation!
The benefits of Acroyoga
Acroyoga mixes Yoga, Acrobatics and Thai Massage. This means that you benefit equally from all three practices.
First of all, yoga brings physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being through its different asanas, breath work and meditation. Moreover, yoga is a true philosophy of life that will bring you serenity in your daily life. Some of the benefits of yoga include: muscle strengthening, improved flexibility, balance, stress reduction and improved concentration. These benefits are also found in Acroyoga as it is simply yoga in a different form. A work of posture is made and the breathing has a great importance in the success of the acrobatic exercises.
Secondly, the acrobatics require a strong physical commitment with skill, agility and strength. It is therefore a rather technical discipline. Among the several types of Acroyoga, the solar one has an acrobatic part more impressive since the sessions are focused on it, certain voltiges require then a more intense engagement and a concentration. By being acroyogi, you develop your strength, flexibility and balance. As you can see, the main benefits of acrobatics are: muscle strength, flexibility, balance, agility and concentration.
Finally, Thai massage is a mix of different massage techniques. It then allows to relax the body while relaxing the mind. It is mainly performed by applying pressure to the points along the body’s energy lines, called Sen or meridians. Pressure can be applied with palms, fingers, arms, forearms and even elbows or feet. In Lunar Acroyoga, it is usually done at the end of the class. The benefits are: it relaxes and loosens muscles; it treats headaches, back problems, osteoarthritis and generalized fatigue; it helps to improve blood circulation; it is effective against anxiety, blood pressure and varicose veins. Moreover, it helps to find a good digestion by decreasing the menstrual pains.
The benefits of Acroyoga are numerous and can be felt quickly. From the very first sessions, practitioners can benefit from a better concentration and receptivity to the other, a greater self-confidence and a feeling of freedom.
What equipment to practice acroyoga?
Acroyoga is a dynamic yoga that mixes several disciplines. A versatile equipment is therefore ideal for this kind of yoga. Indeed, the right equipment for your practice can really help you progress without getting injured. For Acroyoga, the main criteria are a non-slip mat so you don’t slip during your practice, a mat that can be used outdoors so you can practice with your friends and a mat that is comfortable enough for meditation and massage!
Several Yogom mats can be suitable for you:
The Star Range mat, ideal for all dynamic practices, will be the perfect companion! Whether you sweat a little or a lot and no matter what your level, this mat offers comfort and excellent stability on the ground. Its non-slip surface will allow you to perform acrobatics in complete safety! On the other hand, this mat is very suitable for gentle yogas and meditation. Finally, adapted to an indoor and outdoor practice, it will follow you everywhere for your jam sessions!
The Performance Line mat is also a great option for Acroyoga. Indeed, it is adapted to both soft and dynamic practices and will follow you everywhere because it is foldable like a towel! You will have understood, this mat is made for indoor and outdoor practices. On the other hand, the Performance mat is ideal for yogis who tend to sweat since its microfiber coating is very adherent to perspiration, which prevents you from slipping and protects you during your flights. For those who don’t sweat much, but have fallen for its soft finish, don’t panic! Simply dampen your mat before each class to trigger its adhesion. Do not hesitate to moisten it again throughout the session when necessary.
5 good reasons to do acroyoga
You are not yet convinced of Acroyoga? Here are five good reasons to practice it that will change your mind!
- Letting go and boosting your confidence. In order to achieve and hold the postures for several minutes, you will have no choice but to let go. You will learn to go beyond your fears by engaging in acrobatic exercises. Acroyoga will confront you with uncomfortable situations that you are not used to, which will increase and boost your confidence.
- Learn to surpass yourself. In the same branch as the previous reason, Acroyoga allows to discover how to hold acrobatic postures. In addition, being in a team will give you more confidence to dare tricks that you never thought you would do. This discipline teaches you to get out of your comfort zone and to surpass yourself.
- Work on balance and positioning in space. The acrobatic postures require a lot of balance and agility from the practitioners. Little by little, you will improve your stability while being more skilful in your daily gestures.
- Play a team sport. Indeed, each posture is worked at least in team of 3: the carrier who is at the base of the figure, the acrobat and the spotter who is in charge of the safety during the practice. To be able to succeed in a position, it is then necessary to communicate and coordinate with colleagues. Acroyoga is therefore ideal for developing the spirit of mutual aid and trust among practitioners.
- Practice a fun activity. Our last good reason to practice Acroyoga is simple: it’s a fun activity where you won’t get bored! You’ll learn new acrobatic tricks with each session, which will keep you motivated. On the other hand, the classes always go by very quickly since you have to be concentrated from the beginning to the end to succeed in holding your postures.
If these five reasons weren’t enough to convince you, we recommend our article “What type of yoga to practice?“ to find the yoga that suits you!