What is Acroyoga? FAQs
Updated: Jul 3, 2020
Are you teaching beginners? Have you just started practicing or maybe you are acro-curious? In this Acroyoga for Beginners Series, we offer tips on preparing for and practicing poses, photo guides, common terms used in acroyoga, and advise on where to go to get more once you inevitably get HOOKED on FLYING!
In this article
We love guiding workshops for complete beginners. Here we offer answers to some of the most Frequently Asked Questions we get from beginners before they attend a workshop or class, including, "What is Acroyoga?" We hope you'll try some poses, send us pictures or tag us (@trainmoveplay on SoMe), and let us know if you have questions.
What is 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.
What does an acroyoga class look like?
Every teacher or teaching pair will have their own style. There are several teacher training programs which each have a different focus, and within each training style, individuals and couples also have their own preferences, strengths, and structure. Some focus more on balancing poses, combining acroyoga with slackline, hand balancing, or circus training; some are more pure in their translation of taking poses and flows directly from ground yoga into the air; some rely more heavily on recreating standard poses and transitions, while others focus on creativity and ingenuity. We combine elements of our teacher training at Acroyoga Montreal with our own backgrounds in dance, gymnastics, and yoga. 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.
What should I wear and bring?
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. Wear your hair back. Loose long hair can also fall into your eyes or the person basing you, which may mean you can’t see.
A water bottle is always a good idea. A yoga mat or two, if you have them, or a blanket. If we are outside, we usually play on blankets, beach towels, or the sweet green grass. Sunscreen, hat, and sunglasses if you are outside can extend your practice time. A long sleeve shirt, sweat pants, and socks may be good to have if you are ending with Thai Bodywork or restorative yoga or stretching. 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. (Obviously, if you are social distancing, you will need to remain with one partner, someone you are in quarantine with already, until your health officials say otherwise.)
What kind of experience do I need to join?
For a beginners' class or workshop - 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 do 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 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!
More great reads for beginners and teachers of beginners:
Find more information, photos, and videos on our website TrainMovePlay.com along with a calendar of events. Due to COVID-19, events are currently limited, but there are many groups offering online training for solo acrobatics and partner acroyoga - contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can point you in the right direction.
Acroyoga is an intensely rewarding practice and community. So, if you've been thinking about trying it, but haven't yet, JUST GET STARTED!