Acroyoga Warm up: Its a Gift
Updated: Mar 2, 2019
We see lots of folks come to jams, classes, and workshops and jump into a pose without ever warming up. But we love a good warm up for so many reasons: wrists, elbows, shoulders, knees, hips and ankles are just a few!
Why warm up?
You may be thinking, I'll get warm doing acro, so why warm up? A good warm up does A LOT mentally, physically, & energetically to set us up for a successful, fun, productive, and positive acroyoga practice.
1) It encourages the mindset to be focused on and with each other, by helping us shed the outside world, the earlier events of the day, and by bringing our awareness into the physical space where we will practice.
2) It allows us to rehearse poses and body shapes solo before excepting someone else’s weight or offering our own. This can be really crucial! Especially if we'll be working on new poses, transitions, and orientations. Making body shapes solo is often much less complicated and carries less risk than making shapes together. We practice new shapes alone on the ground first so that once we are upside down and backwards and flying through the air, or supporting the weight of another human, we have already developed some organisation and information in our muscles and joints. We can enter the partnership with an idea about our own range of motion and any limitations we will experience, so we can communicate those with our partners AND our spotters before we dive in.
3) And warm ups, well, get us warm (aka raise the core body temperature, especially in Danish winter!) Increasing circulation to the muscles and joints and increasing the energetic flow throughout the body are valuable to a sustainable, successful, safe practice. Minds are sharper and clearer. Breath is more supportive of the demands on the body. Speaking our needs, fears, and suggestions becomes easier. The group harmonises. This is why warm up is so valuable even if you only plan to be a spotter!
So, what does a good warm up involve?
There isn't a "right" warm up for acroyoga. There are so many different movements and skills that we may include in our practice and, ideally, we like for the warm up to set us up for the specific mindset, body shapes, and energy level we'll use in the practice. When we lead a class or workshop, we may include a fun game that brings out our playful intention and gets us in physical contact with each other while raising the heart rate. Conversely, we may use a short breathing meditation to shed the earlier events of the day and center ourselves in the present moment.
We may also include yoga poses and other useful body shapes like squats, hand and wrist preps, inversions, core work, cardio, and quadrupedaling. If there are specific yoga poses or body shapes that will translate directly into the acro poses or transitions we are learning later, we definitely like to practice those during warm up. We also like to bring some eye contact between people and introduce improvisational challenges to awaken our social and creative sides if we'll be asking the group for creative input later. For a three hour class, we usually spend at least 45 minutes on the warm up. The video below shows a warm up for a three hour class in high speed...
What about jams?
Even if our jam is just the two of us playing in the backyard, WE WARM UP! But sooooooo many people jump into a jam without warming up at all! Is it because they aren't sure what to do? Or because they are so excited to get to the "good stuff?" Possibly.
If you aren't sure what to do, try some simple stretches, whatever feels good in the moment, and then crawl around on all fours for a bit. Planks, Down Dogs, Squats, and Cat/Cows are a great place to start. Your movement doesn't have to be part of a specific tradition (like yoga) or even have a name - just move in a way that your hips and spine become more mobile and loose and so that your breathing gets fuller and deeper. Go together with a buddy and do some very simple poses and drills, like leg presses in Bird pose, swivel side to side in Side star, or take a long hold (2-3 minutes) in a Star pose. (Duo Die have some awesome training and warm up videos on youtube - check them out for ideas!)
We'd like to encourage a stronger culture of warming up at jams for all of the same reasons we lead a long warm up in classes and workshops. Help us in the cause and give yourself the GIFT of a nice long warm up at your next jam. Then leave us a comment below and let us know what works best for you!
What are the specific drills or activities that set you up for a super uplifting acroyoga experience?