Summer is almost upon us, and you’re about to have a lot of free time on your hands. If you’re looking for a new activity to get hooked on that’s both fun and physically challenging, you may have been tempted to check out acro yoga, an advanced style of yoga that you can also do with your significant other.
Acro yoga is a combination of acrobatics, dance, massage, and yoga. If you’ve ever participated in a trust fall exercise, it’s sort of like that, only instead of an entire group of people getting ready to catch you, you have one partner who will act as your base.
In an email to the Daily Dot, Anya Arax-Melnick, a certified Acro yoga teacher, provided a deeper look into the practice. “Acro yoga blends three main elements that each meet the student where they are. Solar acrobatic practices that cultivate, trust, empowerment, and joy; lunar healing arts practices that cultivate listening, loving, and letting go, and finally, yogic practices that cultivate breathe awareness, life balance, and connection.”
Acro yoga has been around for many years, but recently it’s been popular on Instagram, in the form of beautiful couples accomplishing impressive poses.
As is, practicing yoga already requires serious commitment. So can anybody just take up acro yoga, without any training or practice?
Lauren Taus, a NYC-based yoga instructor, thinks “acro yoga” is a bit of a misnomer.
“I, as a yoga teacher, see very little crossover [between yoga and acro yoga], and think it best to call this practice partner acrobatics. It’s a discipline that belongs to the circus arts,” Taus told the Daily Dot. “Partner acrobatics is available to nearly everybody. You can begin with simple shapes, many of which are very beautiful and surprisingly easy to achieve.”
Ideally, anybody can try acro yoga in a class. You don’t need to have yoga or acrobatic experience to participate, because there are usually instructors around to help you achieve all the moves and build up the physical skills and confidence required. But while there are no hard-and-fast mandatory requirements, it would be a good start to ensure that your body has no current injuries.
“Just like any new form of movement, acro yoga is all about taking the right first steps to lay down a safe foundation,” said Daniel Scott, a certified level 2 acro yoga instructor. “Of course, there is a learning curve that will challenge all comers, regardless of skill level.”
Fitness requisites for acro yoga
Anyone can get through the basics of acro yoga, provided that you have a good spotter who can help guide both you and your partner physically and verbally. The more you spend time practicing it, though, the harder the poses become.
For Laura Kasperzak, a yoga instructor who practices acro yoga with her husband, all you need to get started with acro yoga is a bit of courage, a sense of adventure, and an open mind.
“As the level of acro yoga increases though, it is important to be able embody the postures… meaning you have to have an understanding of where your body needs to be and feel it in each transition or posture,” she said.
“You need to have a good base of strength and flexibility as well as a good grip on the understanding of technique and theory of movement and balance,” Fallis said. “Everything is done through a series of steps and you need to be ready to focus on working into positions through them.”
Stretching before practice goes a long way, as does studying and preparing for poses before actually doing them. Since a lot of the poses involve being suspended or being upside down, being realistic about your own physical limitations is also crucial to avoiding potential mishaps.
“There’s way more risk of injury when you’re working with someone else in this capacity. You can damage control by doing some test runs of the motions and talking through the logistics with your partner,” Bronfman, founder of HBFit, added. “Definitely don’t attempt the move cold!”
And of course, it’s important to be conscious of the limitations of gravity. “If something feels like it’s too much work, it most likely is,” Scott joked.
Instagram is teeming with couples who proudly show off their acrobatic prowess. While their achievements are great sources for #fitspiration, most experts said that acro yoga is actually a lot more fun when you don’t spend too much time worrying about how you look while doing it.
“Worry less about what other people’s practices look like and focus on creating comfort and safety with you partner,” Scott said. “Sure, it can be a flashy practice, but make sure you appreciate the substance as well. Bring awareness to how it feels!”
Can acro yoga help your relationship?
Because acro yoga is built on the principles of trust, honesty, and open communication, many couples say the positive effects of acro yoga on their relationship are undeniable.
“Working with my husband has not been without some arguments, but it has definitely made our relationship stronger,” shared Kasperzak. “It’s also so much fun to be able to connect with him and do something fun together. Having a common hobby can only benefit the relationship.”
“Acro yoga helps keep us in-sync, and really makes us focus and listen to one another,” said Bronfman.
And what about sex? Can acro yoga actually improve the quality of your sex life? Given the intimacy and closeness of the poses, not to mention the flexibility and endurance required to achieve them, some couples say that yes, it does.
“There’s no doubt that it involves such interesting positions that could be seen as sexual, and if you’re in the pose with your partner, it just depends how you choose to look at it,” Fallis said. “I would definitely say it sure doesn’t hurt!”
H/T The Cut | Photo via Earl McGehee/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)