I’ve noticed a change recently. Previously, when I told people I teach yoga, their response tended to be along the lines of “Oh you must be really flexible then.” Now, I’m far more likely to hear “Cool! Do you do Acroyoga?” AcroYoga has been a surprise hit with yogis and non-yogis alike - many people, who wouldn’t consider yoga normally, are drawn to its acrobatic movements and enthusiastic community.
AcroYoga is an enticing combination of yoga, acrobatics and healing arts, effortlessly integrating some of the best elements of each. It’s dynamic, playful and also restorative. But it can seem intimidating, with a quick search of #acroyoga on Instagram yielding well over 2 million images of yogis in impossibly elegant and impressive postures.
So aside from its Instagram-worthy aesthetics, why should you give acroyoga a go? Here are five great reasons to try acroyoga:
Much of the focus in traditional forms of yoga is on the individual.
For yogis, the ultimate aim is to experience self-realization, a moment in which the illusion of yourself as a separate self falls away. You move from individuality to universality; understanding yourself as intrinsically and inseparably at one with all conscious beings. However, the path to that tends to be a personal journey, tuning deeply into yourself to connect with your true nature.
AcroYoga offers a different path, one in which connection with others is part of the journey. By intentionally working with others, supporting each other in postures and playing together, you experience things you could not access as an individual.
In doing so, you feel the profound joy of connection with a community. Not only that, but the playfulness, inevitable slips and laughter of AcroYoga means you’re guaranteed to make great friendships with like-minded people.
As off-putting as some of the AcroYoga postures might appear, some are far more accessible than they look, and you’ll be amazed at what you can do. The more you commit to the practice, the more you feel its benefits. Many of the postures do take much longer to learn, but it’s the fact that it’s not easy that makes achieving a new transition or posture so satisfying.
By committing yourself to regular practice, you’ll see yourself develop over time, building strength, skill and a sense of self-efficacy. And when you find yourself in a posture you never expected to achieve, you see yourself in a whole new light, building confidence and self esteem.
There are also many fears that can be conquered through AcroYoga - the fear of turning upside down, the fear of trusting someone to support you, and even the fear of having to support someone else yourself. What AcroYoga does step-by-step is help you to build trust in your body, and trust in the support of others. Becoming both strong enough to support someone else, and trusting enough to be supported brings real personal power and strength.
3. Core Strength
AcroYoga is renowned, quite rightly, for its physical benefits, especially its core strengthening. In a lot of AcroYoga postures, you’re playing with gravity, exploring ways that you can move with it, and ways that you can use your own strength to resist its pull.
If you’re the base, the mover, you need to have enough strength of your own to confidently support and guide your partner. As the flyer, you’re being moved, so you must support your own weight in order to maintain postural integrity. All of these build your core strength naturally, without a sit up in sight! (For some pre-AcroYoga core strengthening try this 15-minute yoga sequence.)
Another natural by-product of the challenges of AcroYoga is that it encourages you to connect more deeply with others. You learn to be very present with your partner, really listening and observing them to understand how you can best work together.
As AcroYoga Montreal teacher Paddy O’Hanlon puts it,
“Practicing with a new partner, you tune in carefully to understand their physical attributes, their centre of gravity and the speed they like to move at. By making adjustments together the moves start to become more in sync, more harmonious.”
AcroYoga also necessitates a more constructive communication. O’Hanlon explains,
“Verbally, you soon find out that saying things like, "You did that wrong" aren't very constructive. With time you replace those phrases with better forms of expression, like, "Maybe you could try to shift your weight to the left," or, "How can I help you better in that transition?"”
These are valuable lessons to take out into the wider world.
AcroYoga is sometimes criticized for not being a traditional type of yoga, but this is also one of the best reasons to try it. It is an evolving art, and a practice of exploration, freedom and curiosity. Being part of the development of that practice is really exciting.
There is undoubtedly so much experimentation still to happen, so it can be the perfect way to get inspired, try some new things out and see where the practice takes you.
As Elizabeth Gilbert puts it,
“What is creative living? Any life that is driven more by curiosity than by fear.”
So what are you waiting for? Part of the beauty of AcroYoga is that it is non-dictatorial - you don’t need to replace your usual yoga practice with it, unless you want to, but it offers a fresh approach and a new set of tools for self exploration.