I first came across AcroYoga on the Internet some years ago, and to my disappointment it was only offered in the US back then. At the time, I was training to become a certified Yoga Teacher and was looking online for something different, interesting, creative and challenging. As soon as I saw some pictures on the website I was really impressed. AcroYoga poses look so beautiful and elegant, and never pass by unnoticed. Luckily a few months later the first AcroYoga European Teacher was based in London and started teaching, and there I was! It did not take long for me to become an AcroYoga junkie and a couple of years later an AcroYoga teacher.
“The practice aims to bring about connection, trust and safe play”
AcroYoga is a relatively new practice that is hitting the yoga world by storm. Founded in California, 7 years ago by Jason Nemer and Jenny Sauer-Klein, AcroYoga blends the spiritual wisdom of yoga, the loving kindness of Thai massage, and the dynamic power of Acrobatics. The practice aims to bring about connection, trust and safe play. There are currently around 180 AcroYoga Teachers in the world, 6 of them based in the UK.
AcroYoga is great fun and unlike most other forms of yoga, the practice is performed mainly in pairs or in groups.
The practice involves three active roles. The spotter, who serves as an interpreter between the base and flyer and aids the stability and success of a skill or flying sequence, The base, who is the pillar for which skills are conducted, and finally, the flyer, who is either the performer or the receiver of the flying sequence. AcroYoga classes start in an Opening Circle. The Opening Circle begins with everyone introducing themselves, sharing with the group what is going on in their bodies, whether there are any physical limitations such as injuries. In AcroYoga it is very important to know whether there are any injuries in the room, not only for the teacher but for all the participants, as there is a lot of partner and group work involved, so as to create a safe environment for the practice. The Opening Circle also sets the tone and the theme of the class that is to follow, whether the class will focus on acrobatics or therapeutics. Partner Flows are often included in class, which are creative sequences of mutually beneficial partner asanas and stretches which actively increase strength and flexibility.
Body Conditioning Exercises known as Tightness Drills are always present in acrobatic classes. Teaching you how to keep your body tight and preparing you for high-level acrobatics, including focus on inversions and developing core strength. Partner Acrobatics are always great fun and very creative, however, greater levels of risk amplify the need for heightened trust, concentration and presence. Flyers should always be mindful of the base, slow movements and transitions. If it feels uncomfortable for either base or flyer the magic word is “down”; communication is an essential key in AcroYoga. Partner Acrobatics is where the practitioner will utilise fully their range of strength, flexibility and balance. Communication, confidence, trust, concentration and visualisation are all equally important in partner acrobatics.
The terminology of base, flyer and spotter is used.
Last but not least, it is Flying, probably the most popular aspect of AcroYoga, and definitely my personal favourite. Flying utilises gravity to release and open the flyer’s spine whilst grounding and empowering the base. Flying Flows can range from gentle, massaged-based stretches to more dynamic balancing or acrobatic sequences. The more experienced the Flyer and the Base are, the more room for improvisation and endless possibilities of creativity arise.
Classes/Workshops are always varied and never the same. They are often specialised – sometimes the focus can be on therapeutics and at other times more acrobatic. AcroYogis also often take part in public demos and performances, and one of their favourite past times is to jam in the park especially when the sun is shining. Due to the nature of this practice, AcroYoga is a very social style of yoga that brings people together, with communities all around the globe. So it’s not just about taking your practice to another level.
Everyone is welcome to join the AcroYoga community, all ages and all levels. However, having some experience of any kind of bodywork (i.e. yoga, massage, gymnastics, dance) would be beneficial. The practice is ideal for those that enjoy inversions, and are happy to work with a partner or in groups. However, no need to go with a partner to class. Be prepared to have a great time, make lots of new friends, accomplish way more than you thought you were capable of, and as a result get hooked!
There are plenty of ongoing AcroYoga classes in London and workshops throughout the country, and in fact all over the world.