"I always enjoy the training sessions with Sarah and Martin. We work with balance, strength, flexibility, cooperation, and take good care of each other. I have developed a lot of skill from the training. Their teaching is aimed not only at beginners in acroyoga but also more experienced acroyogis." Daniel, Aarhus, DK
What is Akro/Acroyoga?
Acroyoga is a practice that blends philosophies and movement from yoga, acrobatics, contact improvisation, dance, thai bodywork, and mindfulness. It is very young and constantly evolving. We address issues of trust, team-work, cooperation, playing with the edge of the comfort zone, self-reliance, voicing our needs, listening inward and outward, flexibility, and we definitely get a GREAT workout and HAVE BIG FUN! We draw from yoga poses and flows, acro-conditioning and partner work; dance concepts of embodiment; improvisational experiences of freedom and self-discovery; games that lift the group energy and connect us to each other; and yogic mindfulness.
OUR TYPICAL CLASS LOOKS LIKE...
Game-, yoga-, or dance-based warm ups that build heat and tease the brain to prepare us for the physical, creative, and social work we will do, and that also introduce a mantra or theme like ‘trust in yourself to earn trust from others' or 'finding alignment from the inside, out.'
Akro-conditioning and technique drills that create kinaesthetic awareness for the later work, as well as bring people in physical contact with each other.
Poses and flows with fundamental theories of partner work, and plenty of time to 'try on' various roles.
Acroyoga Montreal-style guided creative processing where we'll work together to open up original possibilities & contribute something new to the movement community. A jam, may also be included, time permitting. This is the time to continue with instruction material, play with new partners, get extra help with challenges, and, of course, create your next profile pic. ;)
Restorative time, which can vary from a short processing and reflection circle, to a mini-restorative solo yoga session, to a fully guided therapeutic flying or Thai Bodywork exchange.
...a bit about the history and philosophy of acroyoga as it has been given to us...
The father of modern Hatha yoga is also the father of Acroyoga! Krishnamacharya practices L-basing backbend assists in a video with one of his daughters (simultaneously the beginning of family acroyoga?!)
Ken Nateshvar Scott began practicing yoga poses in partnerships with an eye toward yoga as a tool for connecting people. Contact Yoga, Yogasage, and Dance Kinetics were some of the developments of those early ideas. “Contact Yoga is an external expression of an internal union based on sacred relationship” ~ Tesh
Acrosage, a fusion of acrobatics and massage, was created by Benjamin Marantz. He discovered that gentle inversions when combined massage techniques and the kinds of distractions used in Thai Bodywork, helped to manage and heal chronic back problems. His explorations developed into the foundational technique of a whole genre of partner work that we sometimes call Acro Therapeutics, Acropeutics, Therapeutic flying, Thai Flying, or Lunar Acro.
Jessie Goldberg and Eugene Poku, two fusion dancers, began making movement that combined various styles of dance, yoga and acrobatics, and Acroyoga Montreal was born. Martin and I were honoured to train with them, and senior teachers Heidi Blais and Jill Campbell (the AcroYogals) , in 2016 in Montreal. The Montreal style of acroyoga focuses on being in the moment, in balance, with another person.
Jason Nemer and Jenny Sauer-Klein brought their joint experiences in acrobatics, gymnastics, and thai massage together and co-founded Acroyoga International, which is not based on the West Coast, USA.
Frequently asked questions
What should I wear?
You will be upside down, laying on the ground, legs spread, and in contact with other bodies during acroyoga. Most people are comfortable in the same things we would wear to a yoga class – a fitted shirt, fitted pants, and bare feet. Baggie shirts can get caught on your partner’s hands or feet. But be prepared to work hard enough to get sweaty and dirty, especially if we are playing outside. Long necklaces can fall into your mouth or eyes, sharp rings can cut hands; so minimal jewels that are smooth are best. Loose long hair can also fall into your eyes or the person basing you, which may mean you can’t see.
What should I bring?
- Water bottle is always a good idea.
- Yoga mat, if you have one. Depending on where we are, we may have enough mats – contact us to see if you need to bring one. If we are outside, we usually play on blankets, beach towels, or the sweet green grass.
- Sunscreen, hat, sunglasses if we are outside can extend your practice time.
- Extra long sleeve shirt, sweat pants, and socks may be good to have if we are ending with Thai Bodywork. Your body temperature will drop while receiving bodywork.
Do I need a partner?
No! We usually work in groups of 3 or 4 people and we often trade partners around for different exercises. While it is great to have a steady partner to train with, working with a variety of people can give you a lot of information, tools, and insights to help your practice grow quickly. That being said, acroyoga is a community practice, so bring as many friends as you can! *These are the guidelines for our regular classes and workshops. Some specialty workshops, especially those with a more acrobatic or circus focus encourage or require couples to sign up together. Check with the event if you are unsure. Most acroyoga classes, especially for beginners, are open to anyone and don’t require a partner.
What kind of experience do I need?
None! Everyone had a first day. You do not need a background in yoga, acrobatics, dance, gymnastics, or any other movement practice to try acroyoga. This is a very inclusive group of people and they want you to join them. If you have some movement experience, tell your partners so they can meet you at your level and maybe even with some shared language. If not, tell your partners that, too! No worries.
Do I have to be "fit" to try acroyoga?
There is a role for everyone in an acroyoga practice. Seriously. We always have at least one flyer (in the air), at least one base (on the ground), at least one spotter (protecting and guiding the pose), and often we have more observers (for feedback and encouragement.) While you will definitely gain strength, mobility, body awareness, and alignment with regular practice, there is no minimum fitness level to starting acroyoga. All body sizes, shapes, and fitness levels are welcome to come play. There is a place for you here.
What are some terms that would be useful for my first class?
- Acroyogis are people who practice acroyoga.
- Flyer is generally the person in the air. We encourage everyone to try flying.
- Base is usually the person on the ground. We encourage everyone to try basing.
- Spotter is the person(s) protecting, guiding, giving visual and tactile feedback, encouraging, and supporting the flyer and base. The spotter is crucial to safe and effective practice. We encourage everyone to try spotting – this is often the most
- Poses are the positions or shapes we get into, like asana in a regular yoga practice.
- Transitions are how we move from one pose to another.
- Washing Machines are series of poses and transitions that end in the same place they started, we can repeat them endlessly (or until we are too exhausted to do more.)
- Flows are series of poses and transitions that end somewhere different from the start, like small acroyoga dances.
- Counterbalances are poses that involve weight sharing with one or both or all acroyogis on the ground and leaning into or away from each other for support.
- L-basing means the base is laying on her or his back with feet in the air.
- I-basing means the base in standing upright.
- Belly-basing means the base is laying on her or his belly with knees bent and feet in the air.
- Jams are open practice time. This is undirected time to get help with a pose you are working on, play with some one new, play with your teachers, or just watch and catch some inspirational vibes.
What should I eat before class?
You will be upside down, laying on your back, feet will be pressed into your belly, you may be rolling, jumping, or back-bending, and you will definitely be working hard. So, a huge meal right before class is not a great idea. However, no energy is also a problem. A light meal, high in protein and complex carbs, an hour or two before class is usually good – consider how and what you would eat before a yoga practice, a run, or a swim.
We strongly advise against drinking alcohol before a practice – you will be slower and less predictable, which is dangerous to your and your partners.
What if I don't like it?
No worries! We encourage accurate self-assessment and radical self-reliance. If you get halfway through your first class and decide you don’t want to be there, you can always make choices to reflect your needs, for example, sit down and watch the rest of class, tell your partners you are only spotting (not flying or basing) for the rest of class, or you can leave! You are responsible to and for yourself. This is a practice of close, personal touch and that takes some getting used to for some of us. Moving to the edge of your comfort zone is something we strongly advocate; getting attached to an unrealistic goal is not. Remember: We call this “playing” acroyoga , which means we want you to have fun!