By Yoga Journal
Why try Acro? Short answer: fun. This hybrid style combining acrobatics and healing arts like Thai massage with yoga can help you take the next step in your practice by connecting you with others while boosting strength, body awareness, and playfulness.
"It will take you out of your comfort zone and require that you exercise your trust muscle," says Deven Sisler, lead AcroYoga teacher on Wanderlust's 2015 tour. "Breathe deeply -- you will be flying before you know it!"
Round up a couple of friends and try this sequence Sisler created for YJ. These poses require a base (the person closest to the ground, who supports the flyer), a flyer, and a spotter.
Start with three rounds of Sun Salutations to connect to your center and breath before you start working in a partnership. Then hold Plank Pose for 30 seconds to fire up your core. Practice one backbend of your choice to further warm up your spine.
During the sequence, if a pose feels painful or the flyer is on the verge of falling, the base, flyer, or spotter can say "down." Then everyone brings the flyer safely to the ground. After each pose, rotate roles so that everyone can try basing, flying, and spotting.
Partner Warm-Up: Reverse Hand-to-Hand Push-Ups
This hand connection is an important partner mudra (hand gesture) for your AcroYoga practice, whether you are a beginner or advanced.
REVERSE HAND-TO-HAND GRIP
Imagine both the base and flyer have mittens on, fingers together with thumbs out. The flyer's fingers point toward the base's face. The base rotates hands at a 45-degree angle out to the side as the flyer clasps the base's hands. The base and flyer keep arms straight for a full breath cycle, so there's one long line from the base's shoulder through the connected hands to the flyer's shoulder.
The base then bends arms as far as comfortable out to the sides 5 times and the flyer keeps arms straight. Both the base and flyer inhale on the way down and exhale on the press up, keeping the abdominal muscles engaged.
This flying pose is just like Plank Pose on the ground, but with more support. Since there are four points of contact, the base and flyer can explore how the balance works.
Base: Lie on your back with your heels over your hips.
Flyer: Stand facing your base with your toes almost touching their glutes.
Base: Bring your feet to the hipbones of the flyer, bending your knees a little to connect in a reverse hand-to-hand grip.
Flyer: Lean forward into your base's feet, keeping your body in one line from shoulders to heels.
Base: With straight arms, receive the weight of your flyer in your feet, then straighten your legs and stack your heels directly over your hips, keeping your knees slightly bent if your hamstrings are tight.
Spotter: Stand next to the flyer's hips. Make sure the base and flyer are safe, and help the base keep their heels directly over their hips for maximum balance.
Flyer: Engage your core and allow the base to lift you off the ground.
Base: Keep your arms straight, shoulder blades grounded into your mat, and your hands directly over your shoulders.
Flyer: Push into the hand connection and lift your toes like in Locust Pose. Stay here for 5-10 breath cycles.
Base: Bend your legs to bring the flyer's feet to the floor.
Chair Pose (Utkatasana) on Shins
The base will build confidence and leg strength by keeping the shins parallel to the floor. The flyer learns to trust the uneven support under their feet.
Base: Stack your knees over your hips, keeping your legs about hip-width apart.
Flyer: Place the ball of your big toe at the top of base's shin/bottom of kneecap, then take a reverse hand-to-hand grip. Pressing into strong straight arms, place your second foot on the base's other shin and stand up.
Base: You can stabilize your legs by holding your own outer thighs once the flyer is standing. Your flyer may ask you to experiment with the angle of the shins to the floor for more or less support.
Spotter: Stand at the back body of the flyer in Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I), ready to help the flyer down by holding their hips if they lose balance. This pose can go down quickly, so watch closely!
Flyer: Breathe in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) for a moment. Then sit back into Chair Pose as you reach your arms forward and up. Stay up for 3 breath cycles.
Flyer: Slowly shift back into Tadasana, then clasp the base's hands and step off with control.
Want to keep flying? Continue with 4 additional AcroYoga Poses.