Acroyoga is an unorthodox form of the ancient Indian practice that’s poised to take yoga studios by storm. Blending aspects of acrobatics and yoga, the practice is about building trust, and consists of an intimate, challenging workout that’s sure to get your heart racing.
“Acroyoga is a combination of yoga, acrobatics, Thai massage and the creative process,” says Grant Shipman, founder of Yogabatics, which claims to be the first dedicated acroyoga studio in the United States. “My favorite way to describe acroyoga is to say it’s like break-dancing on someone’s feet.”
Based in Austin, Texas, Yogabatics is one of a handful of entities in the world that train and certify acroyoga teachers. In an effort to build a broader acroyoga community, it produced a free, 10-part instructional video series that teaches the basics of acroyoga, including safety measures like spotting and techniques for starting from scratch without injuring yourself or a partner.
It’s a Bird, It’s a…Plank
A beginner’s practice starts with a basic pose called “front bird,” in which one person (the “base”), flat on their back, positions their feet over the “flyer’s” (i.e., their partner’s) hip bones. Connecting at the hands, the base slowly lifts the flyer up until the pair essentially form a square with their bodies. More advanced poses and movements include elegant transitions like “Vishnu’s couch” and the “Prasarita twist,” both of which look as complex as they sound.
While acroyoga may seem daunting, it’s something pretty much anyone can try, regardless of general fitness or yoga skill level, according to Shipman. “I believe everyone who likes fun, laughing and people should give acroyoga a go because you’ll be doing feats in the first 20 minutes you thought you’d never be able to do,” he says. “Those of us who practice acroyoga [regularly] are in incredible shape, but for the same reasons kids who love to play are in shape.”
Mind + Body Benefits
The primary draw for those who practice acroyoga is as much about the opportunity to play, as the level of physical fitness it promotes. “Acroyoga is good for our souls,” Shipman says. “Acroyoga allowed us to play again — to laugh, challenge ourselves and dream like when we were children.” In other words, people seem to find themselves drawn to the chance to let go of their own self-consciousness in favor of connecting, playing and growing — three of the greatest joys, they claim, of the acroyoga process.
To take it for a tumble with a partner, watch Yogabatics’ 10-part video series in the comfort of your own home, or experience it in a group setting by locating classes led by certified instructors in your area.