Everyone knows yoga is about the mind-body connection and relationship to ourselves. But what you may not know is there is a different kind of yoga that isn’t just about you. It’s about your relationships to others, reprogramming how you handle fear and failure and watching your cant’s turn into can’s.
This new kind of yoga is called AcroYoga. It’s a movement practice that combines partner acrobatics and the practice of yoga. A joint effort is necessary with a partner for support, courage and to accomplish new things.
If you have been wanting to try AcroYoga but think you’re too heavy, not strong, flexible or coordinated enough, this is for you. The truth is there are ways you can work with those obstacles to shift your mindset, work within your limits and still have fun.
The 4 Misconceptions Of AcroYoga Debunked
Myth #1: I’m too heavy and there is no way someone can lift me
The perception is that only tiny adorable people can do AcroYoga and be the flyer (the flyer is the partner up on the bases feet). For example, a 5’1” and 125 pound woman recently approached me saying her dream is to fly. But, her biggest nightmare is she is too heavy and no one can lift her.
Truth: There are options for everyone with different backgrounds and bodies. In reality if you are paired with a base (the partner who essentially becomes the ground and support for the flyer) that is the same size or bigger. That’s a good and supportive pairing.
Try It Out: The next time you do AcroYoga make sure the base is the same size or bigger than the flyer. If you need more support ask for a heavy, hands-on spot.
Myth #2: I’m not strong enough
As a beginner base, you may feel like you can’t hold your partner up. Especially if the legs start wobbling side to side. Than there is the whole mindset of there being little trust or someone will get hurt.
Truth: You are strong enough when it comes to beginner AcroYoga poses if you use bone stacking to build a solid foundation. For example, imagine a house. It starts with a solid foundation and than is built from there. A proper foundation keeps the house above ground and resists movement of the earth around it. If the house foundation is not solid it fails causing all sorts of problems.
In AcroYoga, bone stacking allows you to use the strength of your bones to supplement your muscle strength. This allows for optimal stability, a solid foundation and for the partnership to settle and relax into poses.
Try It Out:
Start by basing someone that is the same size or smaller than you. A great way to practice bone stacking in L-basing (where the base lies on their back and their legs are up in the air) is for the bases legs to be at 90 degrees. Look for one straight line from their ankles to their hips.
Smile and have fun with it. It’s surprising how much strength comes from not taking it too seriously.
Myth #3: I have tight hamstrings
What, you’re not a Cirque du Soleil contortionist ? Or are frustrated because you’re so tight you can’t straighten your legs?
In AcroYoga, over and over when it comes to flexibility, tight hamstrings are a problem. Making it a struggle to keep your legs straight when it comes to basing.
Truth: Even with inflexible hamstrings it is possible to base. The key, similar to yoga, is to create a pelvic tilt. This allows the feet to stack over the hips without having to fully extend the legs.
Try It Out: An immediate solution for inflexible hamstrings is to put support under the sacrum using a bolster, blanket or rolled up yoga mat. The tighter the hamstrings the higher you will want to support your sacrum. Begin by working with one height a few times. Than gradually decrease it making it a goal to actively work your flexibility to eventually have the support gone all together.
Myth #4: I’m not coordinated enough
The perception for AcroYoga is you have to come in with a circus, gymnastics, cheerleading, dance or yoga background. And if you don’t have one of these you are not coordinated enough to do AcroYoga and no one will want to work with you.
Truth: It’s unnecessary to have an athletic background as a beginner. There are accessible things that you can do to improve your coordination. The idea is the more practice and repetition you have, the more success.
For example, one of my students considers herself non-athletic. Starting out coordination was not automatic for her. However, by breaking down poses and practicing over and over she and her AcroYoga partner are able to do their dream poses.
Try It Out: A great way to do this is to work on timing with our AcroYoga partner. Try this simple drill of holding each other’s wrists with a strong grip. Focus on timing by jumping up and landing at the same time.
To sum it all up, here are 4 ways AcroYoga can be accessible to everyone:
As a flyer, make sure the base is the same size or bigger than you.
Use a spot if needing extra support.
Base someone that is the same size or smaller than you and apply bone stacking.
Put support under your sacrum as a base with tight hamstrings or hips.
Busting myths and having a fresh perspective can really jump start your AcroYoga practice. The next step is trying out these suggestions. If you feel your to busy, don’t have a partner and not sure where to start the “Beginners Guide to Acro Yoga: How to hack a busy schedule, learn new skills and make your practice work for you” can help.