What's the difference between Partner Yoga and AcroYoga?

Q:

What's the difference between Partner Yoga and AcroYoga?

A:

If you’ve been doing yoga for any length of time, you’ve probably heard of acroyoga, and possibly partner yoga too. These two types of yoga have a lot in common with each other, but a few crucial differences. Let’s explore more...

Yoga means “to unite”. In “normal” yoga (is there a “normal yoga?”), that unification is between mind and body, or breath and action, but in acro and partner yoga, that unity extends to a connection between yourself and your partner, and it’s not simply a goal, it’s an absolute necessity.

Both acro yoga and partner yoga involve working with someone else to achieve a pose or sequence, whether it’s double tree pose or needle (I’ll explain later).

In partner yoga, you tend to support each other in poses that you may already know, such as tree pose or child’s pose. Working with a partner can help you both to work deeper into the pose or stabilise each other. For example in double seated twists, you sit back-to-back in cross-legged position and rotate to take your hands across, one onto your own opposite knee and one onto your partner’s knee, helping each other into a juicy twist, whilst synchronising your breathing. In partner yoga, you can enjoy learning to assist each other, perhaps offering your partner a sacrum-press assist in child’s pose, or taking a back bend over your partner in child’s pose to deepen their posture and provide yourself with a glorious heart opener.

(Learn more in Embrace Partnership: Top 5 Yoga Poses to Try With a Partner.)

Acroyoga takes this partnership a step further and distinguishes the two partner roles into “flyer” and “base”. The base usually lies down on the ground, with their legs and arms extended. They use their body position and strength to support the flyer, who is raised off the ground, to move into a dynamic sequence of positions. Both roles require some strength and flexibility, and likewise provide great physical benefits. They also offer powerful benefits for the mind, such as a deeper connection and improved communication with your partner.

(Learn more in Top 5 Reasons to Practice AcroYoga.)

The poses in acroyoga range from the relatively simple, such as throne pose, where the flyer sits on the soles of the feet of the base, to the very advanced, such as needle pose, where the base supports the upside-down flyer’s shoulders solely on their extended arms and the inverted flyer maintains a vertical straight line from their head to their toes. Similarly to vinyasa flow yoga, those practicing acroyoga may create sequences of poses that flow from one to the other, adding extra challenge, benefits, and fun!

Additionally, it’s sensible to include one or more additional roles in acroyoga: the “spotter”, who guides the participants to move into poses and also ensures their safety should they fall out of a pose.

So to sum up, there some overlaps between acro and partner yoga, and both styles can help you develop your strength, flexibility, mindfulness, communication, and yogic unity with your partner. However acroyoga, as indicated by its name, tends to be a more acrobatic, dynamic and strong practice, whilst partner yoga is perhaps closer to a more traditional hatha yoga style.

If you’re not sure which is for you, try both - they each have a lot to offer!

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Written by Jade Lizzie
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Jade is a yoga teacher, blogger and health and wellness geek. Her mission is to share the happiness that yoga has brought into her life.

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