Have you ever wanted to try AcroYoga? It probably peaks your interest every time you see it, but you’re not sure how to get into these poses without falling. Today, you will not only learn all about AcroYoga’s beginnings, but also how to achieve some basic poses, that will get you flying high in no time very safely.
Krishnamacharya in 1938 with a young student doing backbends and contortion on his feet. But long before this people have been doing acrobatics and practicing stretching together.
The word acro means highest in Greek and yoga means union, thus AcroYoga is the highest union. The practice of yoga and acrobatics have developed to what we practice now which is a blend of yoga, therapeutics, and acrobatics.
In 1982 Ken Scott Nateshvar created Contact Yoga which focused mainly on partner stretching and some “flying poses”. From there we jump over to Canada where AcroYoga Montreal was founded by Eugene Poku and Jessie Goldberg who have a distinct style blending yoga, dance, performance, and acrobatics.
Finally, in 2004 Jenny Sauer-Klein and Jason Nemer created AcroYoga International which is the practice that has spread worldwide. Knowing the roots of the practice is important because it connects us to real people who with their inspiration and talent created a worldwide movement.
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There are certain roles in AcroYoga that are important to know because they play an important role in safety and in communication. When you have defined roles you also provide clarity in who’s responsible for what as you practice all AcroYoga poses and sequences.
The foundation and leader of the bunch! The base is the person who is either laying down in L-Basing or is the bottom in a standing pose. They provide stability, strength and will generally lead the flow (unless the flyer or spotter are more experienced).
Usually the more dynamic of the bunch. The mantra is “tight and light”. Usually it’s the smaller person, but not always. As long as a base is steady and stable, the qualities of bone stacking can support a larger flyer. The flyer’s job is to trust and listen while moving through the poses with ease and control.
Safety and communication are the spotter’s role and this pose is probably the most important in the beginning. Spotters can help communicate when something is not clear, they will align the base if needed and can support the flyer in transitions. The spotter always makes sure safety is top of mind and they must be vigilant at all times.
As I mentioned above, whoever has the most experience will usually be the leader of the pose or flow imparting good knowledge, but once everyone is on the same page, these roles are pretty important to maintain.
Communication and trust are the most important aspects of AcroYoga as it’s a community effort and is rooted through positive and empowering communications. These qualities are the key to building teamwork that can last and translate into other parts of your life.
- Bases place a blanket under the hips for tight hamstrings
- Bone stacking is the foundation and much more solid than muscle - good alignment wins always
- Breathe and have fun
- Celebrate the small wins before analyzing what went wrong
- Base: Laying down in L-Basing position bring the legs to 90 degrees and place parallel feet in flyer’s hips (slightly inside the hip bone). You want to be fairly close in distance. Extend your arms and connect with your flyer.
- Flyer: Lean forward with your body straight and strong and your chest lifted slightly (similar to Salambasana).
- Spotter: Stand to the side in goddess position with your hands under the flyer (one in front of base’s legs and one behind). Make sure base finds 90 degrees and flyer is engaged and smiling.
- Base: Bend the knees enough to get flyers hips over yours then press up to fully straight legs (or as much as possible). Keep the hands connected in a straight line from flyer’s shoulders to base’s shoulders. When you feel comfortable you can release the hands, flyer always engage the arch of the spine and base you can help by pointing your feet upward.
To come down, hold hands again and lower the feet to the floor.
- Base: Lie down on your back and flyer’s walk very close facing away from your base. Place your feet right above the flyers sacrum, by the lower back, slightly open to give room for the lower back.
- Flyer: Hold onto bases ankles with a c-grip, thumbs facing in, and lean back as the base bends the knees to receive, but don’t bend too deep, reach up for flyer’s elbows and simultaneously as you receive, push your flyer up. This is a great way to get into a passive backbend and stretch the front body. You can then take variations like holding a leg for dancers, full bow, and more!
- Base: Lay down and bend your knees so your feet are close to your hips.
- Flyer: Step your legs next to the base’s hips, one foot on either side and fold forward.
- Base: Place your hands on flyers shoulders with arms straight and slightly angled toward your knees.
- Flyer: Hold onto the base’s legs by bringing your hands in between your legs.
- Flyer: Lean into the base’s strong straight arms, put your feet on base’s knees and lift your hips over your shoulders, then extend and lift your legs. Make sure the connection of the hands to the base’s thighs stay together.
- Base: By angling your arms toward your legs keeps the flyer glued. This takes communication, patience and accurate self-assessment. Remember the magic word is down!
Expert Tip: When practicing this pose remember to keep your arms straight and spotters stand facing your flyer’s back. This goes for both the base and the flyer!
As when practicing anything, check in with yourself and in this case with each other so that fun and safety go hand in hand. Check your surroundings and if you can, try practicing on grass or with a few yoga mats in the beginning. Listen to each other and communicate constantly to get the best experience possible.