We’re sure you’ve already heard about acroyoga, but do you really know what it is? In general, it is described as a mixture of different physical practices: from (partner) acrobatics and cheer to acro dance, yoga and circus arts.
There are many ways for practicing this sport. Some people enjoy therapeutic and spiritual aspects of this practice, and other people (like us most of the time) prefer the acrobatic segment of this activity. There is no rule, which way is better – you have to find out what suits you the most and then just enjoy doing that.
We decided to break down the practice of acroyoga in this article – we will explain everything you need to know about it!
What roles do we know?
Acroyoga is mostly practiced in pairs, sometimes even in groups of 3 or more people. We hear the question: »Do I need a partner to do acroyoga?« a lot, and the anwser is: you can do some conditioning exercises by yourself, but you need to have a partner to practice acroyoga.
There are 3 main roles:
- THE BASE: This is the person that is lying or standing on the ground (sometimes even sitting or kneeling etc.). Their job is to support the flyer. That is mostly done with their feet and/or hands (sometimes with other body parts too – e.g. with shins, forearms,…).
- THE FLYER: This is the person that does not have direct contact with the ground most of the time. Their job is to find stability in different body shapes, while the base supports them.
- THE SPOTTER: This person is not directly involved in practicing acroyoga, but their job may be the most important – keep the flyer (and the base) safe and sound. If something goes south, it’s their responsibility to make sure the flyer lands safely on the ground.
Of course you can do acroyoga even if you don’t have a spotter, but we always recommend you to find a friend, who can help you, especially when you’re learning new elements. We always say, better safe than sorry.
There is a lot of creative freedom in acroyoga, so you can basically base in any position you can think of. But there are 2 most common styles:
- L-BASING: In this style, the base is lying on their back on the ground and supports the flyer with their feet or hands (or sometimes other body parts as mentioned before). Most beginners start learning acroyoga through L-base as it usually requires less upper body strength. There are different categories of L-base acroyoga: static poses, flows, washing machines, pops, icarians, whips, whip-pops and hand 2 hand & foot to hand (we will describe each category in next chapter)
- STANDING: This is a style where the base is standing on their feet. The flyer can be lifted up in the air or they can be standing on different body parts of the base (shoulders, thighs, etc.). This style usually requires more strength for bases, especially when it comes to over-head lifts. Categories of standing acroyoga are: static poses (mostly counterbalances), dance lifts and hand to hand & foot to hand.
If you want to start practicing acroyoga static poses will be the first thing you’ll learn. As the name says, these are the poses, where the flyer and the base try to keep the desired shape stable for some time. Standing, sitting and lying on different body parts and inversions fall into this category in L-base, whereas counterbalances and over-head lifts fall into this category in standing acroyoga.
HAND TO HAND & FOOT TO HAND
These are technically static poses (we know), but we decided to give them an extra category. Hand to hand is a position where the base supports the flyer in a handstand shape on their hands. And foot to hand is a position in which the flyer is standing still on base’s hands. The abbreviation for hand to hand is H2H and F2H for foot to hand. Both can be done in L-base and standing and they are also the main two positions in partner acrobatics that’s why we’ve put them into an additional category.
Flow is a combination of different static poses and transitions between them. It’s sort of like an acroyoga choreography. What we love about flows is that you can get really creative with them and connect elements together in many different ways. A flow may be consisted of elements from different acroyoga styles and categories.
Washing machines are sequences of different elements that start and end in the same pose. They can look similar to flows, but because they have the same starting and finishing position, they can be done over and over again without stopping.
Pop is a throw of the flyer, where the flyer and the base stay connected all the time with at least one body part. They can be done in one position (the flyer just loses a part of the base’s support for a moment) or they can be done as a transition from one pose to another.
Icarians are an upgrade of pops. The base throws the flyer here too, but they don’t keep any body parts connected. So the flyer is really flying for a (brief) moment. Icarians can be also done in one position or used as a transition from one pose to another. The most advanced acroyogis practice icarians in forms of different somersaults too.
In comparison with other (over-head) lifts there’s less strength needed to do a dance lift. They usually include spinning the flyer in a certain position and supporting the flyer while she’s doing an acrobatic move (a cartwheel, an aerial, a walkover, etc.).
A whip is technically a swing of the flyer between the base’s legs. It’s usually used as a fluid transition from one pose to another. In comparison with (basic) pops and icarians, whips require a bit more technique, because they can quickly go wrong, if both partners aren’t skilled enough (keep in mind that this is our personal opinion 😊).
If you combine whip with a pop (or an Icarian), you get a whip-pop. It usually starts with a whip and in the last stage of the move, the base adds a pop. Whip-pops require a lot of skill, because the movement is extremely fast.
We hope that now you know a little bit more about acroyoga and that you maybe even consider trying it out (if you haven’t done that yet). But be careful, once you’ve got a taste of it, you won’t be able to get away (our students call it an acro addiction for a reason ).