Acro Yoga is a form of partner yoga which brings together yoga, acrobatics and Thai massage. It is a playful, fun but also therapeutic form of yoga.
History and origins
Acro Yoga originated in the USA in 2003 and was developed by Jenny Sauer-Klein and Jason Nemer, a dancer and a yogi. For more information about Jenny and Jason visit the AcroYoga website.
Philosophy and principles
Acro Yoga brings together the three traditions of yoga, acrobatics and Thai massage.
The philosophy of yoga takes it from being just a physical practice by cultivating an awareness of breath and connection.
The (Solar) acrobatic practices, such as lifting and supporting your partner, are powerful, technical and playful. They cultivate trust, empowerment and joy.
The (Lunar) Thai massage elements are healing and cultivate listening, loving and letting go.
The practice of Acro Yoga today
Acro Yoga is practiced with a partner and often a third person. The person doing the lifting is called the base, the second person being lifted is the flyer and the third person is the spotter who is there for safety and to assist.
A session will usually start with solo work, centreing and checking in with yourself before starting partner or group work.
In a class you will learn the acrobatic techniques to be able to lift and be lifted safely and more easily.
There are two types of practice:
Lunar – The lunar practice is the therapeutic style of Acro Yoga bringing in the Thai massage and other healing practices. In the Lunar practice the flyer (or receiver) is passive, handing over control, while the base (the giver) supports their weight while moving them around to stretch, twist and massage them.
Solar – In the Solar practice both the base and flyer are active. The focus is much more on dynamic acrobatic techniques and is fun and empowering. Or as teacher Deike Bikker says “this is where you get to do cool tricks!”
The benefits of Acro Yoga
The acrobatic aspects of Acro Yoga build strength for both the flyer and the base, especially in the core, arms and legs.
Acro Yoga includes lots of inversions such as supported Handstands and Headstands and so the flyer is able to receive the benefits of inversions such as improved circulation, empowerment and confidence.
The Lunar practice brings therapeutic healing qualities for both the receiver and the giver. The Thai massage relieves muscle strain and tension allowing energy to flow as it should in the body. Usually both partners will take turns in each role.
Unlike most forms of yoga Acro Yoga involves an obvious physical connection with others as well as an emotional connection as we learn to trust each other while working in partnership. This brings a sense of community and warmth.