Acroyoga timeline: Where are we and how did we get here?
Updated: Apr 22
Have you ever been enjoying a nice day in the park, with your best jam buddies, joyfully balancing in *insert name of your favorite pose here*, only to have an stranger ask suspiciously, "WHAT are you doing?" And despite the fact that you've been practicing for awhile, you still don't know how to answer these questions...
What IS acroyoga? Where did it come from? And how did it get here to me?
both a broadly defined genre of movement and a unique style that pulls from a wide range of other movement genres and techniques, including yoga, acrobatics, contact improvisation, dance, thai bodywork, and mindfulness. (See our upcoming post on "How we define Acroyoga" for more of our personal philosophy and musings on this question.) Some styles incorporate other balance-arts, like slack-lining and hand-balancing. Others place more emphasis on partner massage. Below, we share a brief introduction to the timeline of acroyoga. (You can also find this info at the Acroyoga page of our website.)
...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 now based on the West Coast, USA.
many more schools and styles of acroyoga have begun offering classes, workshops, teacher trainings, and intensives. We think the Yoga Slackers, Van City Acro, and Acrovinyasa are putting out qualified and interesting teachers and styles. Established schools are also branching out within themselves. For example, Acroyoga International now offers an AcroFit teacher training that seems to be reaching out to a different audience than their more bodywork-based Solar/Lunar original styles. Find links to all of these schools and teachers on our Resources page.
If you have more info or insight into a key payer in the development of acroyoga, maybe someone we missed?, please fill us in! We'd love to do the research and be more educated ourselves. You can email us at TrainMovePlay@gmail.com or comment below. And if you have a friend or playmate who like to geek out as much as we do, share this post!
In next week's post, we'll define some of the terms you may run into at an acroyoga class or jam. These may defer from one school or style of acroyoga to another and most come from either the acrobatic or yoga worlds, however, some seem unique to this new form. So, check back next week to get even more education in the history and language of acro, and the next time a passing stranger asks, "WHAT are you doing?" you'll all kinds of answers to share!