What Is Acro Yoga?

Acro yoga is a playful and artistic form of yoga practiced by at least two people.

And while it can be fun to practice, there is also a therapeutic and connective side to it!

So, let’s take a deep dive into what Acro Yoga is, how to practice it, its benefits, and much more!

Acro Yoga Definition

As the name suggests, Acro Yoga is a hybrid activity that draws inspiration from yoga and acrobatics. To some people, that might sound off-putting because they associate acrobatics with elite levels of physical fitness. The truth is, Acro Yoga incorporates both disciplines in a harmonious way that can be adapted to people of different backgrounds and levels of experience.

Acro Yoga is designed to be practiced by at least two people. The basic principle of Acro Yoga requires one person to be the “base”, and the other (or others) to be the “flyer”. The person chosen as the base stays in contact with the ground and carries the flyer’s weight. Consequently, the flyer is usually the one performing the yoga poses, held up in the air by the base.

There are many different combinations of points of contact between the participants. As a result, poses with less contact require more balance, and poses with more contact may focus on strength or flexibility. Once the basics of Acro Yoga are established, the participants can work on transitioning between poses, which is even more challenging.

However, not all poses in Acro Yoga are structured in the same manner. Some of the poses have both participants grounded but in a way that requires them to collaborate. For example, they might perform a pose where they mirror each other while maintaining some form of contact. Non-symmetrical variations may involve some counterbalancing or simply creating a beautiful shape together. This subdivision of Acro Yoga is often referred to as Partner Yoga, which greatly reflects the teamwork required to practice it.

Another role in Acro Yoga doesn’t get as much spotlight, even though it certainly deserves recognition. When you practice Acro Yoga, especially the base-flyer variation, it can be greatly enhanced by having a “spotter”. A spotter is an additional person who can direct the participants into the pose and ensure their safety. In an Acro Yoga class or workshop, people are commonly split into groups of three or four students to ensure each group has at least one spotter.

Benefits of Acro Yoga

Benefits of Acro Yoga include:

  • Balance. Many of the poses featured in Acro Yoga require one or both partners to establish balance. It differs from traditional styles of yoga because balance cannot be achieved without all parties putting in equal effort. The base has to provide stability to the flyer, and the flyer must gauge the situation and adapt to maintain balance. As a result, both participants benefit from improved spatial awareness and balance. Furthermore, dynamic balancing helps to strengthen the muscle tissues and ligaments, which is beneficial for long-term joint health.
  • Coordination. The physical sense of coordination is closely linked to one’s balance. When you practice Acro Yoga, your coordination improves thanks to the relationship between your own body, your partner’s body, and your surroundings. This is especially important if you practice Acro Yoga at home with multiple hazards.
  • Trust building. Whether you are practicing Acro Yoga with a friend, a significant other, or a complete stranger – it doesn’t work without trust. The flyer must trust the base to hold them up, and the base has to work closely with their partner to keep things going smoothly. Furthermore, there must be explicit trust that all participants, including the spotter, have each other’s best interests at heart.
  • Communication. Who says yoga skills can’t be taken outside of the studio? Acro Yoga is a great way to learn to communicate clearly, promptly, and effectively. It’s a wonderful skill that can benefit you at home, at work, or in social situations.
  • Active mobility. Within traditional yoga, there are plenty of opportunities to improve flexibility. However, that’s often done using gravity or resistance. Active mobility requires strength and conscious engagement, and Acro Yoga can help you develop this skill. Instead of just lifting their legs, the base has to hold the flyer’s weight and keep them steady. Equally, the flyer must rely on their muscles to create shapes and stay balanced.
  • Empathy. Acro Yoga allows the participants to put themselves into the other person’s shoes. As a result, you can learn to be more understanding and compassionate by practicing with another person.

Acro Yoga Poses

There are many poses and combinations possible through Acro Yoga. Although the shape sometimes reflects familiar yoga poses, Acro Yoga pose names tell a story of their own.

Related: Best 3-Person Yoga Poses for Beginners

Some Acro Yoga poses include:

Front Plank

Front plank

The base lies on their back, with arms and legs extended perpendicular to the floor. The flyer’s hips are rested on top of the base’s feet, hands linked together with the base. The flyer must engage the muscles in their core, back, and legs to remain in a rigid “plank” position parallel to the ground.

Front Bird

Front bird

This pose is similar to Front Plank, except the point of contact is reduced to the flyer’s hips and the base’s feet. Once the balance is established in Front Plank, the flyer must lift their chest to shift the weight into the hips. The arms can be extended back. The base can then place their arms alongside the torso for extra stability.

Bow Pose

bow pose

Once you master Front Bird, you can work on Bow Pose. In this pose, the flyer reaches back to grab hold of their feet, mirroring Dhanurasana. The base’s job is to maintain stability during the transition and while the pose is performed.

Whale

Whale pose

In this pose, the flyer faces the sky. Their shoulder blades rest on the base’s feet, with their legs supported by the base’s arms. For the flyer, it’s a great way to open the chest and work on thoracic spine flexibility.

It Takes Two to Yoga: Asanas for Couples & Partners

It Takes Two to Yoga: Asanas for Couples & Partners

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How to Practice Acro Yoga

In Acro Yoga, safety comes first. Make sure that you practice in an open space without fragile objects, sharp corners, or pets. It’s best to practice on flat ground, although the base may use a yoga mat to accommodate their back. However, steer clear of thick gymnastics safety mats, as they are more likely to make the base unstable. It’s also a good idea to practice in a quiet environment so that all participants can communicate.

Make a plan and assign roles. If practicing with someone new, introduce yourself and establish a connection. Depending on everyone’s wishes and capabilities, it’s possible to swap roles throughout the session.

Then, it’s time for a warm-up! Just like any other physical activity, Acro Yoga requires strength and flexibility, so it’s very important your body is ready for action. You may opt for a yoga routine (e.g., Sun Salutations), some cardio, or static stretching.

When it comes to actually performing Acro Yoga poses, follow the guidance of the teacher and the spotter, and make sure to communicate with all members of your group.

Start Acro Yoga at Home

If you can’t make it to a studio that offers Acro Yoga classes, or you would rather try it out at home, check out these follow-along videos. Please take extra safety precautions if you are completely new to Acro Yoga.

Acro Yoga for Beginners With Koya Webb

Super Fun Partner Yoga Poses! | Yoga for Couples or Friends

Beginner Acroyoga Tutorial | the Acro Classroom

It Takes Two to Yoga: Asanas for Couples & Partners

It Takes Two to Yoga: Asanas for Couples & Partners

Price:
Buy Now on Amazon

Clicking this link to make a purchase may earn us a commission at no additional cost to you.

Acro Yoga FAQs

Do You Have to Have a Spotter to Practice Acro Yoga?

The short answer is no. However, both flyer and base must take on some of that responsibility. The truth is, having a spotter can only enhance the Acro Yoga experience!

How Do You Decide What Role to Take On?

There are a few factors to consider. The first thing you have to think about is the physical attributes. The base is often the larger, taller person of the two, while the flyer is smaller and more lightweight. The second thing to consider is the strengths and weaknesses of the participating parties. Those who are stronger are generally selected to act as the base, while someone with more coordination and balance would make a good flyer. That said, partners of a similar size and ability might enjoy trying on both roles and swapping around throughout the session. The role of the spotter is usually more dynamic and is taken on by all participants at one point or another.

Can You Show Up to an Acro Yoga Class Without a Partner?

Most places that provide Acro Yoga don’t expect you to show up with a partner or partners. In fact, an Acro Yoga class or workshop is a great place to meet new people and make friends. The teacher or leader will usually assign partners based on physical parameters and experience level. Although practicing with the same partner is great for developing your Acro Yoga practice, there are also benefits to adapting to new people.

Important: Check with your doctor before trying Acro Yoga for the first time if you have any type of injury, illness, pain, or you are pregnant.

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