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Acro Yoga: A Beginner's Guide

December 18, 2017

By Tara Koenig, Inner Fire Luminary

My first introduction to AcroYoga was my mum’s idea. She saw a flyer for an AcroYoga and surf retreat in Tofino and told me I should go. I had no idea what AcroYoga was but love Tofino and love to surf so figured it was a good idea to check it out. I showed up to the retreat not really knowing what to expect. The first day was full of trust work and getting to know the others participant’s. I was eager to try some epic moves but was reminded to learn to walk before I ran. By the end of the weekend I was hooked. I was eager to climb on top of and hold up anyone who was willing.   Now, almost 3 years later I get to teach this practice in my town. I get to teach with one of my best friends, connect to the community and have rediscovered how I like to play!

Here are some common questions and concerns that come up when I teach:

  1. Is AcroYoga, yoga?

AcroYoga is not typical yoga. It is a whole new world of connection, awareness and possibility. The definition as described on AcroYoga.org is “AcroYoga blends the wisdom of yoga, the dynamic power of acrobatics and the loving kindness of healing arts. These three lineages form the foundation of a practice that cultivates trust, playfulness and community.” For me it’s a chance to explore movements in a whole new dimension.

  1. Will I get hurt?

In Acro we teach to practice new skills with a spotter. This person is an extra set of eyes and hands. Their responsibility is to watch the movements, be prepared to catch the flyer and help bring the pose down safely should a fall occur. In a class setting teachers will often teach the safest way to fall out of a pose. Learning an exit strategy will give you confidence to practice poses when there is no spotter around. That’s not to say there is no risk in Acro whatsoever. When you first start practicing you may have some sore bits or bruises. Just like any activity where you have to move your body in a new way your body will take some time to adapt. This is where a beginner class or workshop will help.

  1. I don’t think I’m strong enough to lift someone.

First off, take that self-limiting belief out of your head!! We all have bones and bones are solid and strong. In Acro we stack our bones rather than using muscle energy to lift up our flyers. You will see in the photos that my heels are stacked over my hips. In this position I am balanced and it requires very little effort to keep my flyer up. When you are stacked the poses are grounded and the flyers can feel secure to move around. It may take a few tries to find this pace but play around with what feels good and what doesn’t. Your spotter can also give you cues as to where you are in space, helping you find your sweet spot.

  1. What is the point of this?

If you are looking for a new way to gain strength, flexibility and meet some new people this is the place for you. My legs are stronger now than when I was a competitive gymnast. My partners’ hamstrings are now flexible enough for him to touch his toes (which seemed impossible to him for most of his adult life). I see students go from zero body awareness to moving through poses with ease. Acro is a great way to meet some new people, to deepen you connection with partners, cultivate trust and

  1. How do I get more involved?

Yeah! This is one of my favorite questions to hear. The best way is to look online for workshops and classes in your area. It is best to get started learning from someone who can teach you proper technique, both for safety and ease of practice. AcroYoga is gaining popularity fast and there are many teachers willing to share their knowledge with you. If you are in the Banff/Canmore area check out Rocky Mountain Acro on Facebook, we regularly post about upcoming classes and workshops in the area!

Join us this weekend at the world's largest Acro Yoga gathering at the Divine Play AcroYoga Festival in Portland, OR. For more information, please visit www.acroyoga.org