AcroYoga is a playful physical practice that combines yoga with acrobatics and Thai massage. Images of AcroYoga online and on social media may make the practice seem both terrifying and inaccessible. However, any body type can practice as long as Acro is approached with trust and open communication.
Here are 3 poses to get started on the journey to flight.
To set up for a base test, a spotter (not pictured) should stand to the side of the base and flyer in a wide-legged goddess-like stance to receive the weight of the flyer if they fall. The base should lie back-side-down on a yoga mat and bring their legs straight into the air, stacking their feet over their hips as if coming into Viparita Karani (legs up the wall). If the base has tight hamstrings, it may be beneficial to stack folded blankets under their pelvis.
When the base is ready, the flyer should bring their forearms to fold on top of the base’s feet. While making eye contact with the base, the flyer can begin to apply weight to the base’s feet until the flyer’s legs begin to float off the ground. The flyer can pause in this shape for a few breaths and gently place their feet to the earth when they are ready to exit. Base test should be practiced until the base and flyer feel comfortable with the weight transfer.
Once you and your partner feel ready to progress from Base Test, the next step is to approach Front Plank. The setup for the base and spotter is the same in Front Plank as in Base Test except that the base should take a slight turnout of their feet. The base can bend their knees slightly as the flyer approaches to place their hip points onto the base’s feet. The flyer and base should hold hands with fingers interlaced, and the base should straighten their arms with wrists stacked over shoulders.
When the flyer communicates that they feel stable, the base can extend their legs to straight to lift the flyer off the earth. The flyer can then straighten their arms so that their shoulders can stack above the shoulders of the base. For stability, the flyer should stay engaged through the core and maintain straight legs with pointed toes. The spotter can cue the base and flyer to alter their alignment if needed so that the are stable. To come out of Front Plank, the base can slowly bend their knees to lower the flyer to the ground. Stick with finding stability in Front Plank until you feel ready to move on.
Once Front Plank becomes stable, you can move on to Front Bird. To approach Front Bird, begin by coming into Front Plank. Only when the flyer feels stable, they can begin to let go of the hands of the base.
The spotter should stay at the ready, preparing to provide an extra hand for the flyer if needed as they slowly begin to extend their arms back alongside their body in a Salabhasana (Locust Pose)-like shape.
The base can point their toes slightly into the flyer’s belly to provide assistance to the flyer in lifting their upper body. When both partners are ready to release, they can re-clasp hands, and the base can slowly bend their knees to place the flyer down.
These 3 AcroYoga poses can be practiced in progression to build trust among partners. Have fun exploring these poses. And remember: always practice Acro with open communication, a light heart, and a sense of play!