Acroyoga Community Series: Planning the Acro Olympics
Updated: Jun 29
Acroyoga is something we play and something we practice but not usually something we win at. For those competitive-loving acroyogis, the Acro Olympics can be motivating and a place to share the rewards of all those practice hours. And even for the not-so-competitive among us, the Acro Olympics can remind us of the physical, mental, and social benefits of regular training.
The struggle is real
There are soooooo many places to be competitive. For many of us work is fraught with struggle to the top, family provide their fair share of pressure to succeed, and friends, willingly or unwillingly, knowingly or unknowingly, strain our sense of contentment. We come to acroyoga to be in the present moment and unencumbered with the race for better, faster, further, higher, more, more, more...
Competition in Acroyoga? Seriously?
So,is Acroyoga something we really want to add competition to? Honestly, the first time I saw an Acro Olympics I was a bit put off. I wanted to learn and grow in my own body - not compare myself to others, especially in measurable, concrete terms. But in every situation we have the choice to see the opportunity for growth or to abandon the situation and avoid the opportunity. I can see now, how inspiring and motivating the Acro Olympics can be. Especially when we enter them with the same playful spirit that we try to maintain in all acroyoga practices. We can be awed by someone's handstand abilities and be even more awed when we appreciate how much practice they put it. We can be WOWed by a seemingly endless long hold and even more WOWed when we consider the amount of focus and stillness within that allow for so much stillness in the pose. Plus, it can be fun to get together with your friends and try some crazy stuff!
Some events you might include...
Long holds. Star, Free star, L-sit, Foot to Hand, Hand to Hand, Backplank... so much benefit comes from training long holds. We learn to be at peace through discomfort and to maintain breath through struggle. We find the edges of our comfort zone and learn the subtle art of moving those edges back a bit at a time. The pose doesn't have to be extremely difficult or advanced. Hold any simple pose long enough, and you'll find the challenge.
Revolutions. How many times have you made it around once, twice or thrice and considered a washing machine "mastered?" This is an excellent opportunity to challenge all of those little non-verbal ways we communicate with a partner. After the first few revolutions, when things start getting shaky and difficult to stabilize, we begin to find the chinks in the armour. Ninja stars, barrel rolls, and corkscrews can be wonderful lessons in communication. Plus, its fun to watch the flyers try to walk away after 20 or 30 times around!
Handstands. A classic staple in the Acro Olympics because a solid handstand practice translates in positive ways to many areas of acro for flyers AND bases. We balance bodyline with breath, tension with relaxation, and physical challenge with mental endurance.
Presses. Maybe we include a few presses in our conditioning or drills during warm up, but when is the last time you maxed out and found your limits? And when strength begins to wane, some interesting thoughts can pop up. Do we start to blame our partners? Or let doubt creep in? Presses in Bird, Back bird, Candle, Shoulder stand, and Side star are excellent training tools and also good food for thought.
Timed Obstacle Course while in H2H, F2H, or Two Man High is an audience favorite. The course doesn't need to be terribly complicated - a small ramp, a mat to step on or over, a low ceiling beam or tree branch to duck under...possibilities are endless. And this is a chance to take some of those poses that are usually so tense and restrictive and make them a little looser. Just be sure to have spotters on hand!
Relays, like "Pass the Flyer," can give communities who often play together a chance to compete together while also giving acroyogis who may be too shy to enter other events the chance to be supported by their whole team. That support and trust we build in classes and jams has a place in the Olympics, too!
Team and Partner Games, like "Kick the Cup" and "Monster," can also provide a chance for the not-so-bold to participate in the Acro Olympics and add some levity and laughter. Other games that you use in class warm up or for creativity exercises could also work, especially if the members of your acro community are already familiar with them.
Remember: The point is entering, not winning.
Just by playing the game you win because the Acro Olympics can be a fun, social, and motivating event. Remember that the host sets the tone, so if you are hosting, be sure to create a sense of inclusion, joy, support, and FUN!
Have you participated in or hosted an Acro Olympics? If so, what was your experience? Share your thoughts in the comments below.