Acroyoga for Complete Beginners

How we got started 

Just six months ago, I didn’t know about the existence of the beautiful discipline of acroyoga. Maybe I found out about it the very first time from clicking on a suggested link while watching some other yoga videos on YouTube. Surely YouTube registered my interest and started presenting me with other similar videos. They really spoke to me, and I found myself being drawn to them.

One day I saved a half-dozen videos on my iPad tablet ahead of a vacation. My girlfriend and I watched all that on the plane, wishing I had saved more. Some of them were absolutely inspiring and awesome, and some were tutorials way too advanced. We were truly inspired, but didn’t know where to start. Eventually, we found ways to start on our own, got this going to the next level by attending an excellent workshop and afterwards we were able to keep going on our own with the help of some really outstanding albeit free resources on the internet.

Perhaps you are coming to this page with curiosity about this fairly new but very complete sport for the whole mind and whole body: what is it, what are its benefits and how to get started.

Inspiring YouTube videos on acroyoga 

A good starting point is simply watching some of the best acroyoga flows out there. Stay tune as I will share in an upcoming post my favorite ones: the most beautiful flows, the best sources for tutorials, the different styles of acroyoga, and strategies for safety.

In the meanwhile, you can perform a search for videos, and staying with the most watched rankings will also bring you some of the best. Hopefully you will find them quite amazing and something you would want to achieve one day for yourselves.

But how to get started? Definitely, attempting the complex flow sequences would be much too difficult and altogether dangerous. So let’s backtrack and begin by finding out more about this movement art.

What is acroyoga? 

On one level, it is very easy to say what is acroyoga: it’s the moves and flows that are performed by the people on the videos that say that’s what acroyoga is, for them. That’s why watching several videos is the first step to the better understanding of what it is. Afterwards, it’s good to come up with a definition.

The organization AcroYoga Montreal which is one of the founders of the discipline define it as 50% yoga and 50% partner acrobatics. One can strive to achieve this balance as a useful guideline. You can notice that some adepts tilt much more towards the yoga side, i.e. slower flow or just static poses, more therapeutic in intent, more continuity with a traditional form of yoga such as power yoga or vinyasa.

On the other hand, some performers are much more like circus acrobatics: faster flow, gravity-defying positions, obvious needs for bodybuilder strength and gymnast-level flexibility.

Ask yourself: which forms of acroyoga appeal to you the most? Of what you’ve watched, what would you like to try first?

Basic definitions: flyer and base, asanas and flow 

Most of acroyoga is based on moves done by two people together, but there are complex positions with 3 or 4 people too.

When two people are involved, the one doing the most support is known as the base, while the one being supported in the air is the flyer. Typically they remain in their respective roles, with few examples where they switch roles during a routine.

Static poses or postures are known as asanas as in yoga, while the transitions between poses are

Some of the benefits: body and mind 

For us, acroyoga represents an incredible tool for partner communication.

It gives us a wonderful sense of accomplishment each time we are able to achieve a goal: a new posture, a new transition (or flow) between two postures.

We feel stronger, more flexible, deeper rejuvenating breathing and a great sense of relaxation.

It’s also a workout for the mind, since it requires some imagination and problem-solving skills to discover how to reach a new position.

We also get to see true value in incremental progress: complex routines can be broken down into small enough chunks that can be brought together to form a whole.

How to get started — Safety first! 

It’s always recommended to use a spotter. When we attended a training, at AcroYoga Montreal, for most moves we had one, two or even four spotters on some moves. That being said, we have made most of our progress without a spotter, and we feel that a lot can be done this way in complete safety. Of course, this requires a lot of care, good communication, control and knowledge of each other’s limits. You have to proceed with the utmost care and in no way can we, AcroyogaResources.com, take responsibility for any injury that could occur.

Your first poses and flows 

After watching a few videos, you’ll be familiar with poses like « bird », « throne » and « high-flying whale ». You might be tempted to try them. Don’t! Unless you have good reason not to consider yourself a complete beginner, these simple looking poses are not the place to start. They look effortless to do to the untrained eye. Yet they are more difficult and dangerous than they look like.

These postures actually require a lot of strength and tone, precision and body awareness. It’s essential to go slow and build towards these postures starting with easier steps.

Whenever you attempt a new pose, there could be weight and forces showing up in unexpected places in or on your body, that could easily lead to an injury.

Where to start then? 

In a later post, we will point you towards easier materials. Some questions to ask yourselves are:

How much yoga are you comfortable doing alone? I.e. in what yoga asanas can you readily see your limitations? How would that impact partner yoga? For example the base will need some basic flexibility in the hips and strength with squats. In what simple ways are you comfortable holding the weight, or part of the weight, of your partner?

For the flyer: how strong is your core? I.e. if you’re going to be held by your partner on just a few small areas, is this going to hurt in these areas, and will you be able to hold a certain shape for your whole body around the pressure points?

Both flyer and base will get stronger and more flexible with practice, but it is so crucial to start very, very slowly to avoid injuries!

What if I don’t have a partner? 

Acroyoga is growing fast in popularity, and there might be training where you live, where you can meet other people interested in acroyoga. If there isn’t, another suggestion would be to attend a yoga class, where, by speaking with people, you might find someone also keen on trying.

Conclusion 

In summary, acroyoga is a wonderful new discipline that can be performed at very low cost at home with few props other than some good floor mats and access to the internet for resources. At the risk of repeating myself, don’t jump in with trying some of the standard acroyoga poses before learning more about it and especially about where your limits and the limits of your partner are.

There is nothing like watching an outstanding performance to get really inspired, so go watch an acroyoga video now!

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