Acroyoga or AcroYoga is a discipline that combines acrobatic rhythmic gymnastics and yoga, and is performed between two partners: one is the base or support while the other is called a flyer.
Also referred to as couple yoga, this discipline is characterized by a series of movements that combine balance, strength and breathing, to merge into truly spectacular sequences.
What is acroyoga: meaning and definition
AcroYoga is a practice that mixes the principles of Yoga and acrobatic gymnastics.
Suffice it to say that the term acro-Yoga is the acronym of “acrobatic” and “Yoga”, precisely because this discipline mixes the Asanas of classical Yoga with specific positions of acrobatic gymnastics.
Specifically it is a type of Yoga that combines traditional Hatha or Vinyasa Flow yoga with acrobatics.
It is also thought to draw inspiration from cheerleading choreography, acrobatic dance and circus arts, and is usually performed with a partner or in a group.
This discipline turns out to be much more intense and vigorous than other types of yoga, for this reason it requires greater strength and physical resistance.
In AcroYoga there are three main roles:
- Base: This person has the most contact with the ground. Usually he is the one who supports the flyer with his feet and hands. Base people tend to have their backs or stomachs on the floor, or be in an upright position.
- Flyer: The flyer is lifted off the ground and supported by the so-called base. Those who act as flyers must maintain positions that require a lot of strength, flexibility and balance.
- Observer: also called spotter, he is the one who has the task of protecting flyers from possible falls. Spotters also make sure the flyer lands properly, giving tips to improve form.
If you are interested in the topic, discover our in-depth study on Yoga.
Philosophy and history of acroyoga
Acro Yoga is a fairly recent discipline, just think that it was born in the United States in 2003, and was developed by Jenny Sauer-Klein and Jason Nemer, dancer and yogi respectively.
This discipline originally combines yoga, acrobatics and Thai massage. Let’s see them specifically:
- Yoga philosophy allows you to cultivate awareness of breath and connection.
- Acrobatic practices include flow and movement, such as lifting and holding your partner, to cultivate confidence, empowerment and joy.
- The elements of Thai massage heal and nurture listening, loving and letting go.
Even today, Acroyoga is practiced together with a partner, and often with a third person (the spotter).
The person performing the lift is still called the base, the second person being lifted is the flyer, and the third person is the spotter, who is there for safety and to assist.
Positions and techniques
Acroyoga consists of two different types of practices:
- Lunar: Lunar practice is the therapeutic style of Acro Yoga connected to Thai massage and other healing practices. In lunar practice the flyer (or receiver) is passive and, consequently, entrusts all control to the base which supports all the weight.
- Solar: in solar practice both the base and the flyer are active. The focus is much more on dynamic acrobatic techniques; it is a much more fun and stimulating practice.
The main aspect of this discipline is the role of trust between the two partners. In fact, during the execution of the flow, the base and the flyer can count on each other, abandoning themselves to themselves and remaining concentrated for the duration of the session.
The main positions
- Front bird: in this asana, the base is lying down with the legs at 90º while the feet are placed at hip level with the flyer, who is suspended.
- Back bird: also called back bird asana. In the back bird the base is found as in the previous position, but the arms are stretched along the sides while the feet support the partner (flyer) who is lying backwards with the back arched, the arms along the sides and the head turned towards that of the base.
- Candle stick: also known as the position of the candle, the candle stick foresees that the base is lying down with the knees bent, the legs parallel and with the hands supporting the shoulders of the flyer; the latter instead is vertical and is supported by leaning with the hands on the partner’s quadriceps.
- High fly whale: this asana promotes stretching of the spine. The base is with the feet parallel and supports the flyer on the shoulder blades.
- Straddle bat: In this asana, the base is in the supine position and has the feet resting on the partner’s groin joint (flyer). The latter, on the other hand, is suspended upside down with legs apart and feet pointing downwards so as to remain in balance.
- Throne: In the throne position, the base has the legs and arms parallel and extended upwards, while the partner is seated on the feet of the base, with the feet resting on the partner’s hands.
All the benefits of acroyoga
AcroYoga is dynamic and intense, precisely because it combines Yoga and acrobatic gymnastics.
This particular discipline is a mix of postures, traditional Yoga flows and basic acrobatic skills, with the aim of improving strength, flexibility and balance. So, let’s see specifically what are the benefits of acroyoga.
Increase core strength
AcroYoga is not easy. It requires a lot of agility and will help you develop a strong core to keep both yourself and your partner balanced in the air.
By practicing this unique form of Yoga, you will develop awareness of your body and its position in space, which is very difficult to learn through other activities.
Increase muscle mass
The core isn’t the only part of the body that gets extra attention when you practice Yoga as a couple.
Through this discipline, in fact, you will also build greater strength and muscles in the legs, arms and chest. As? By holding another individual above your head or by keeping your body straight in the air you will be able to tone and increase muscle mass.
Like all forms of Yoga, stretching is also an important component of acroYoga. This is especially true for the flyer, who is continuously doing extensions or backbends.
In addition to the physical benefits, there is also a scientifically proven therapeutic aspect. The second component of Acroyoga is, in fact, about giving and receiving loving-kindness.
In this sense, we no longer speak of flyers and bases, because partners are divided into Givers and Receivers. The donor, or base, moves the receiver, or flyer, to which it gives a sense of rootedness and love.
This practice has been shown to help decrease anxiety, stress and feelings of depression. The constant movement in harmony with rhythmic breathing allows you to free your mind from tensions, pushing you to live in the present.
Studies show that acroyoga can help improve concentration and, as a result, improve your ability to think and reflect.
Practicing acroyoga: how a lesson works
The distinguishing feature of this discipline is the use of gravity to promote both strengthening and stretching.
A typical lesson includes several stages, which we can distinguish like this:
- Warm-up: to gradually prepare the body for more intense movements and exercises, and to protect ourselves from the risk of injury.
- Flow together with the partner: which includes Asanas and stretching sequences.
- Inversions that help build trust between partners.
Also remember that an acroyoga class can be extremely difficult. So, be patient and don’t push yourself too far. Start slowly with simpler Asanas and work your way up over time.
For this same reason, it is not recommended to practice it at home especially if you are a beginner; better to prefer the execution in a school and with professional masters.
Another important point during a lesson is communication. Unlike other forms of yoga, in fact, AcroYoga requires a lot of dialogue with the partner, to whom it is necessary to communicate one’s intentions before each pose.
For this reason it is important to choose the right partner, because all positions require enormous concentration and, above all, trust.
During an AcroYoga class you won’t need specific and particular equipment, the important thing is to wear comfortable clothing, preferably in breathable cotton, and that does not hinder your movements.
As far as footwear is concerned, barefoot is recommended in order to better feel the contact with your partner and be able to maintain balance.
Cost and schools
As for the lessons, these are divided according to experience; there are basic courses for beginners, or intermediate courses that are aimed at the more experienced who wish to perfect their practice.
The cost varies depending on the package you choose. In fact, acroyoga studios and centers offer packages of lessons, the cost of which varies from a minimum of €100 up to a maximum of over €400.
The most famous Acroyoga school is AcroYoga Montréal which has its headquarters in Canada, while in America this discipline is carried out by master Jacopo Ceccarelli and master Laura Mencherini who periodically hold various seminars and workshops throughout the country .
What to eat?
As with any sport, acroyoga can also promote weight loss, if combined…