AcroYoga is a form of partner yoga where two yogis work together for therapeutic release and acrobatic fun. Founders Jason Nemer and Jenny Sauer-Klein met in San Francisco in 2003 and began practicing together soon after, combining their backgrounds in yoga and acrobatics to create supported versions of traditional yoga poses with the intent to build human connections and create community.
How it WorksOne partner (called the base) supports the other (the flyer) in a series of aerial postures. The necessary personnel is rounded out by a spotter, who makes sure everyone has good alignment so the flyer doesn't fall. The base most often lies flat on his or her back and supports most of the flyer's weight with his or her extended legs. The legs, when properly aligned with the ankles over the hips, can support a lot of weight, so that a small person is capable of basing a larger flyer. The base can support the flyer's hips with their feet for backbends or their shoulders for inversions, among many other possible combinations.
Therapeutic and Acrobatic
A therapeutic approach uses gravity to release the flyer's spine with supported inversions. An acrobatic approach allows for a dynamic partnership between flyer and base as they work together to discover creative ways to join their bodies in supported flight. After coming down, the flyer thanks the base with some Thai Yoga Massage (passive yoga stretches). While there are a number of established poses that are taught in AcroYoga classes, enthusiasts also get together for extracurricular jams, which encourage freeform acrobatic play.
Why Try AcroYoga?Yoga can be a very solitary practice. Though many seek out a common experience by attending group classes, it can still feel like you are practicing with a bubble around your yoga mat. Partner yoga bursts that bubble, forcing an interaction. AcroYoga goes a step further by requiring cooperation and trust. AcroYoga co-founder Jason Nemer believes that it is this desire for personal connection in the face of an increasingly cyber-based world that has made AcroYoga so popular. "This practice has created a safe way for strangers to play and support each other," he says. "These are steps towards a more fun, peaceful world," he adds.
Acro Yoga Tips:
- Down is the magic word, meaning the flyer wants to come down.
- Have clean feet, since they will be touching another person.
- Wear form fitting clothing so you won't get tangled up in your shirt or accidentally expose too much when inverting. Avoid slippery fabrics.
- Tip from Jason Nemer: "Sensitivity before strength is a mantra I use a lot."