Are you tired of your typical workout routine, desperate to find something different? Do you dread the monotony of the elliptical and want to fully experience a sense of freedom within your workouts? If your answer is yes, you've got to check out acro-yoga.
So what even is acro-yoga?
Acro-yoga is a physical practice which combines yoga and acrobatics. Typically, the practice involves at least two people — a base, who has the most points of contact with the ground, and a flyer, the individual who is elevated off the ground by the base. In an ideal, safer scenario, there are three people involved: the base, the flyer, and a spotter for extra support.
Acro-yoga isn't just about mastering a super cool pose for the sake of the aesthetic. "[It] teaches us to slow down, to flex our listening muscles, and to share loving kindness and safe, healing touch," explains Britta Rael, an Acro-yoga International teacher. As for the name itself, it comes from the fact that the practice is part acrobatics and part yoga: it fuses both the strength, flexibility, and trust within your partner that is found within gymnastics in combination with the physical, mental and spiritual balance of yoga. And even though one might be tempted, acro-yoga isn't exactly something that should be practiced at home unsupervised because of the significant strength and stability required; it is best to practice in a class setting.
The History of Acro-Yoga
Although technically the practice has been taking place informally since as early as the 1800s in Japan, it wasn't until 2003 that Jason Nemer and Jenny Sauer-Klein began institutionalizing the practice. Today, acro-yoga and has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands worldwide through the dynamic partner-practice with the intent to build human connections and create community.
Why People Do It
The ecstatic feeling of freedom, the intense release of muscle tension and a true sense of losing inhibitions. And if that's not enough for you, acro-yoga practitioners have reported certain sensations of releasing their bodies so freely that it feels as though they are "floating in water." Additionally, it is a requirement of the practice to trust your partner and become truly present in the moment. You can't "kind of" hold someone up with your hand while they balance their entire body weight on you. You really have to concentrate with your entire mind, body, and spirit, and immerse yourself in the moment.
In turn, many individuals feel a huge state of euphoria when they focus on being present in the moment and gain an overall greater sense of gratitude.
AcroYoga.org states that people practice acro-yoga because "it is a physical rush when working with a partner and you finally hit the sweet-spot where everything is effortless. It is also a cheap natural high and a great way to interact physical with another human being without all the media enhanced sexual overtones."
Couples often practice acro-yoga as an excerise, both mentally and physically, of trust. The entire practice is built off of dual yin and yang forces, both equally important and reliant on one another, to properly create the pose. These poses can oftentimes deepen a relationship because a bundle of love, trust and compassion is no less than required.
Where You Can Practice Acro-Yoga?
Festivals have become a hot-spot for the partner-centered practice. Burning Man, Symbiosis Gathering, and Wanderlust are just a few of the festivals that offer this eccentric activity. Additionally, in Los Angeles there are entire yoga studios, such as AcroYoga and Partner Yoga Worldwide, one-hundred percent devoted to acro-yoga as well.
Reach Staff Reporter Natalie Raphael here.