Acroyoga is a modern practice that combines partner acrobatics with yoga (and sometimes thai massage). But partner acrobatics has been around for quite a while, would you believe that its roots go back to the ancient world?
HISTORY OF PARTNER ACROBATICS (ACROBATIC GYMNASTICS)
According to FIG (International Federation of Gymnastics), Acrobatic Gymnastics (or Partner Acrobatics) is the oldest gymnastics discipline, it existed even before gymnastics was a part of the ancient Olympic games.
In the earliest days, they had a bit different acro partners than today – based on cave paintings and other prehistoric art, ancient gymnasts somersaulted over bulls. At that time they used acro mostly for the entertainment of the kings. In Asia, acrobats experimented with building human pyramids. Later on, acrobats from Europe became a part of the circus and they started inspiring others to start learning acro themselves. In that way partner acrobatics slowly spread around the world and passed down from one generation to the other.
Partner acrobatics, as a sport, flourished in the Soviet Union in the 1900s. In 1939 they wrote the first rules for this new sport and they held a national championship. Later on, Acrobatic gymnastics evolved in other European countries, and in 1957, the first international Acro Tournament was held, featuring athletes from the Soviet Union, German Democratic Republic, Poland, and Bulgaria.
In 1974 they organized the first World Sports Acrobatic Championship and in 1998 Acrobatic Gymnastics became a part of the gymnastics disciplines governed by the FIG.
HOW ABOUT ACROYOGA?
There is footage of Krishnamacharya, the father of modern yoga, doing some basic flying yoga poses with children from 1938.
Then there was Benjamin Marantz, who developed a technique called Acrosage in 1985. That was a mixture of massage and acrobatics (especially inversions), where flying was used for therapy purposes. Also in the 1980s, Ken Nateshvar Scott invented Contact Yoga, combining therapeutic flying with Thai Massage.
The term Acroyoga was first used in 1999 by Eugene Poku and Jessie Goldberg (the founders of AcroYoga Montreal). They combined their dance art with yoga and acrobatics and developed a practice that is today known as acroyoga. Later their style became known as AcroYoga Fusion.
Then there are Jason Nehmer and Jenny Sauer-Klein, who invented ContactAcro in 2003, which later became known as AcroYoga. They are founders of Acroyoga International and were first to classify most of the terms used in acroyoga.
In the past 20 years, acroyoga has spread worldwide; each year, more and more people start learning this amazing practice. Some of them focus more on the acrobatic and athletic parts, and some focus more on the therapeutic and spiritual parts. Either way, it is a fun activity with your significant other or a friend, and we recommend you try it (if you haven’t done that yet).