What are these monkeys doing?
You might have heard of the new-ish trend gracing our nation’s parks, yoga studios, and generally anywhere people can put down mats and hop on someone’s feet.
Yoga and acrobatics unite with a practice at least a decade old, although playing on feet has been around since forever (think balancing babies on chins, kids standing on shoulders, and cirque du soleil). Traditionally practiced with a base (the person on the ground) a flyer (the one elevated by the base) and a spotter for safety, the benefits include not only building strength and balance but partner communication and trust.
Acro yoga incorporates acrobatics, yoga, and thai massage (on occasion) in a practice that is lighthearted and fun, social and meditative at the same time. It requires concentration and focus balancing as a flyer, confidence and strength to base. Trusting that if you fall, you fall softly and light. Face one of your fears and go play on some feet!
Here are the top 6 reasons you should try adding some AcroYoga playtime into your life.
- You may feel like a kid again. Up in the air twisting back and forth, up and down, laughing freely and defying gravity, I forget that I am working out. Because it’s so darn fun. Case in point: flying squirrel.
2. You don’t have to be super strong. Your bones are strong, and if you are doing acro yoga correctly you are mostly depending on stacking your bone structure. You build up the strength to do fancy moves, but every time you practice you gain something.
3. You don’t have to have experience. A basic knowledge of yoga is helpful but not necessary. There are progressions for every level that should be mastered before going to the next level. Start on the ground. We all crawled before we walked right? Every person has different fitness levels but there is room for everyone. For example, experienced flyers can transition to being bases… bases can learn to fly… spotters can hop in and out as needed. No pressure.
4. Learn partner trust and communication. It takes a lot of trust to put all your weight on a base’s leg when you can’t see where you are going or the ground beneath you. Clearly communicating with your partner where you are going, what your next move is, and calibrating to each other’s movements will quickly get you on the same page or send you to the ground! With spotters and progressions to develop skills from beginner through advanced, acro yoga can be practiced safely and effectively. Connecting via verbal and nonverbal cues encourages growth for all parties involved.
5. But you don’t need a partner to begin. There are acro yoga jams, workshops, and classes all across the country…. and there is always room for someone new. In the community where I play, everyone has a role, either basing, flying, or spotting. Showing up alone to a jam means you will have new acquaintances by the time you leave. There’s nothing that conquers social anxiety like shoulder standing on a stranger’s feet.
6. You might find a whole community of awesome people. When your spotter catches you that one time you almost busted it you grow more appreciative of those around you. A couch surfing yogi may come to be a close confidant you would have otherwise never met. You meet people without the social lubricant of alcohol – it’s hard to balance a hands-free star under the influence – so the interactions are raw and real. You will meet slackliners, jugglers, musicians, teachers, students, and together, through these experiences we share, we all grow.
Check out https://www.acropedia.org/encyclopedia/ for a glossary of acro moves and terms that are commonly used.
For a step by step introduction to some achievable beginner poses, visit the website http://www.yogajournal.com/slideshow/acroyoga-101-classic-sequence-beginners/#0.
More info on acro yoga in general at http://www.acroyoga.org/.
One more fun one…
Courtesy of YogaSlackers
Featured Image – borrowed from a fellow yogi. Thank you to all my fellow monkeys for letting me share their beauty.