There are many forms of yoga. Most of these kinds of yoga focus on an individual's practice. Traditional yoga is about opening the body while stilling the mind. It's about pushing away the mental stressors and allowing the entire body to become at peace. Over the years, varying forms of yoga have developed. It no longer is all about reaching mental clarity. It is about stretching the body, improving posture, reducing pain and doing what is necessary to help improve the functionality of the body.
Heated yoga has become more popular in recent years because while performing yoga stretches and poses, the added element of heat helps the body sweat out impurities, salt, and water. It also helps give the form of yoga more of a workout feeling. Another kind of yoga, that has also been gaining popularity and is much more than your average workout, is acro yoga. Acro yoga differs from most other forms because it relies on at least two individuals for it to be performed.
What Is This Acro Yoga?
Acro Yoga is short for acrobat yoga. Unlike other forms of yoga, where poses are performed on the ground and stretches are held in ground-based positions, acro yoga relies on two different individuals working together. The acrobatic element of the yoga allows the two individuals to work together where one is often elevated and held off the ground.
There is a considerable amount of balance performed in this kind of yoga. It is also considered substantially more vigorous than other forms of yoga as it requires additional body strength from both partners. The combination of strength, endurance and balance make acro yoga a healthy opportunity for couples or individuals to perform together.
The first form of documented of this yoga dates back to 1938, although it likely is older than this, especially by those who worked in acrobatics (such as in a traveling circus) to help prepare the body for a performance. Since its early inception nearly 100 years ago, this kind of yoga has continually developed, increased in popularity and seen new moves developed because of this popularity growth.
There are three different positions within this kind of yoga. The first is the base. The base is the individual is on the floor. They remain in contact with the ground and, while balance is important, strength and endurance are critical here. This is why, when acro yoga is performed with a man and a woman, the man is commonly on the bottom because of a typically larger stature and increased strength (although as long as the person on the bottom has the strength and endurance, it doesn't matter who is the base).
The second position is the flyer. This is the person on top. Anyone who has taken part in cheerleading will recognize these terms and, in fact, the two share many similarities. Here though there is only one base for the flyer. The flyer is the person who will remain off the ground. Of the two, this is the one who has the greatest flexibility. They also need a strong core (as much of their balance is derived from the core) and endurance to hold the poses. There is also a considerable amount of trust shared between the base and the flyer.
The third role in acro yoga is the spotter. A spotter is someone who watches the base and the flyer to make sure all the contact points are accurate. They can also see where someone might slip or tilts one direction or the other. They can help point out issues and make necessary corrections. Usually, the spotter is the teacher or instructor for the acro yoga, although in group sessions this can be anyone who understands it.
Many elements go into this kind of yoga. Acrobatics is the main part of it and is also where this yoga derives its name. At first, individuals will practice static poses. Static poses keep both the base and the flyer in contact with one another with no necessary movement. They might climb onto the feet of the other and hold the pose. The next element is acrobatic flying. With the proper propellant of the base, the flyer will be able to shift and move. Both need to move in unison to make this movement (and to do so safely). Much like traditional yoga, partners build confidence and timing with simpler poses and then build from there.
Why Practice Acro Yoga?
For anyone looking to build trust and confidence within another person, acro yoga is an excellent option. This is great for couples as they will connect with one another in ways that usually isn't possible. In terms of physical workouts, no other yoga can compete with this. Most other forms of yoga focus on stretching. While this is good for the body and helps elongate the muscles, there is very little in the way of burning calories and elevating the heart rate. Even yoga for weight loss is limited in what it is able to do as a cardio workout.
With hot yoga, a person will sweat a good amount, and while it does feel like a heavy exercise due to the amount of fluids lost, there again isn't much in a way of actually burning calories. Acro yoga is different. This is because, especially for the base, it relies on strength and endurance. Holding someone up in the air that is likely over 100 pounds puts pressure on the muscles, which forces the muscles to burn more calories. In many ways, it is as much weight training as it is cardio.
Acro yoga also helps improve flexibility and endurance. Even for individuals who are especially strong, there are likely certain muscles never in use. These stabilizing muscles are required to lift someone and hold them in a particular pose. This makes acro yoga an excellent option for just about anyone.
How to Get Started in Acro Yoga
The best way to begin with acro yoga is to look for a local gym offering a class. It is difficult to start out without any help as two people will not know if they are doing a base move correctly. The only way to build up to the next move is to make sure the base move has proper form. Poor form will end in not only difficulty performing a move, but it increases the chance of injury. At a class, the spotter will help make the needed corrections and even help build moves. This way, when a pair of people have nailed down one move the instructor can then point out what they should do next.
A class is also possibly a good way, to begin with acro yoga if a partner is not available. There might be people who wish to partake in acro yoga but who don't have a partner. In these cases, a class can usually help. However, it is important to look into the class and to find out whether coming with a partner is required or if it is possible to show up without one.
When first starting off acro yoga will usually begin with basic individual stretching and poses. This is designed to help ensure each person is able to hold their own balance and has a strong enough core to continue. As personal strength, endurance and a strong core are all critical elements to acro yoga each person needs to be able to demonstrate this before moving on to partner work.
Once in partner work, the base and the flyer will perform static poses. Poses like the throne, bird, and whale are all poses the two will learn. Also, as each partner weighs different amounts and has varying levels of core strength, it may take a bit of time to become accustomed to this. Once the pair has managed to perform the static poses an instructor may have them move on to acrobatic poses, lips pops, which are just small jumps where part of the body remains in contact with the base. The instructor will help those who are starting out with acro yoga and give them everything they need to succeed and progress.
Acro yoga is different from most other forms of yoga out there. Unlike traditional yoga, this relies on two individuals working off of one another. It is a great way for couples to build trust with one another and to improve their reliance on each other. It also helps build strength, balance, and endurance. There is a number of different advantages and benefits to practicing this kind of yoga.
However, it is important for those interested in partaking in acro yoga to seek out a class. This way, they can learn proper form, which will ensure they are performing the individual moves correctly, which reduces the chance of injury. Having an experienced spotter in invaluable to practicing safely and developing the skill set needed to progress in this fun workout.