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Acroyoga Beginner Guide

Acroyoga is a super fun and playful practice. It’s a form of Partner acrobatics mixed with Yoga as well as Thai massage (if you want to do more of the therapeutic side of it). It can challenge physical attributes such as strength as well as flexibility, stability as well as agility and balance. It can also help you to develop mental skills such as courage, communication, creativity, trust and co-operation. The beauty of it is that it can take so many forms. Even if you want to do beautiful flows, crazy pops or a relaxing massage it all derives from the same foundation.

The Roles

The Base – The person who does the lifting and supporting is called a Base. Usually in Acroyoga we use L-basing which means the Base lies on his or her back with the legs lifted so that the body forms an 90 degree angle (hence the name L-base). There are other forms of basing such as lying your belly, sitting or standing. Your imagination is the only limit! But in this guide we are gonna focus on L-basing. The most common is to use your hands or feet to lift your flyer but in theory you could use whatever body part you want to do the job. Since we don’t compete in Acroyoga there are no rules what to do and what not to do.

The Flyer – The person who is being lifted or supported by the base is called a Flyer. This is the person who usually do all the cool trix. Just as for the base there are no rules where you must support your flyer but the most accessable areas are usually hips, butt, hands and shoulders.

The Spotter – The spotter is a person who stands next to the practicing pair to make sure everything is safe and are ready to catch the flyer in case of a fall. This is an important task which should not be taken too lightly. There are many reasons to have a spotter;

  • If you are a beginner and feel uncomfortable or scared
  • If you are practicing a new trick
  • If you need to same assistance to do the trick or pose at first to understand it before doing it without the spotter

The most important job for the spotter is to protect the head of the flyer. A good place to aim is therefore to grab around the hip of the flyer to be able to lift him or her. Usually we want to avoid grabbing the legs since that is what the flyer wants to place down on the floor.

There are not really a limit of how many spotters you can have. For some tricks it could be usefull with more than one but just make sure that you decide who is protecting what.

What you need

Acroyoga is a very accessable practice. In addition to a partner and preferably a spotter you need;

  • Some clean floor space without stuff to fall in to
  • Maybe a yoga mat or something else to make it a bit more comfortable for the base
  • Maybe a thicker mat or some pillows to make it softer in case of a fall
  • Acrofriendly clothes. You don’t want clothes that are too lose since that have a tendency to get stuck in places. Neither do you want clothes that are too slippery since that have a tendency to get to slidey

Warm up

Before starting your practice I recommend you to warm up your;

  • Wrists
  • Shoulders
  • Hips and hamstrings
  • Back

General Guidelines

When you are starting acroyoga journey as a complete beginner there are a few guidelines worth to have in mind;

  • Get comfortable working with and trusting another person – Maybe by doing some partner games as a warm up?
  • Understand the principle of Bone stacking and keeping the Centre of mass over Base of Support – Bone stacking means that you are stacking the joints on top of each other as you can see in the picture below. There are straight lines from shoulder to shoulder through straight arms and from hip to hip through straight legs. This means we can more easily maintain the Flyer’s Centre of mass over the Base’s Base of support.

By creating these strong lines we are so much more efficient compared to if arms or legs are bending or moving the too far forward/backward or to the sides. Of course in flow we need to be dynamic and move which means arms and legs will bend but we still want to be as efficient as we can and keep the Centre of mass over Base of support.

  • Understand the importance of spotting – Which you already learned before
  • Feel the position – If possible we want to enter the position in easiest way possible just to get comfortable there and get a sense of it before we go there via a flow
  • Learn how to get out of the position – Have an exit plan
  • Learn how to enter and exit the position via a flow – Learn how to transition through different positions to create a flow
  • Learn how to fall – Because you will fall a lot. Learn how to fall in a safe way

Basic Positions

Here are some basic positions for you to practice. Click on the name of it to see a video if it.

Bird (With or without hands)

Folded leaf

Throne

Whale

Foot to Shin

Side Star
Enter from a Side Star

Basic Transitions & Flows

After first practicing the positions above individually you are ready to move on to combining them by transition in between. Can you come up with more transitions using only the positions showed here?

Inversions

As you get more comfortable and can perform the transitions above safe and smooth you might want to move on to some inversions. Having practiced some headstands on the floor could be a good idea but is not neccessary.

Strandraggaren (”Beach greaser”)
Shoulderstand
Star

Beginner Flows & Washingmachines

After spending time learning the inversions as well as refining the basics it might be time for you to learn some of the basic washing machines.

A Washing machine is not a flow in itself but an Umberella term for a flow that starts and stops in the same positions which means you could do it over and over again, whereas a ”normal” flow as a starting and a stopping point. Therefore you could say that all Washing machines are Flows but not all Flows are Washing machines.

Now it’s up to you

This is the end of this text but it does not have to be the end of your acroyoga journey. In this post you have got plenty of material to work with for a couple of weeks or months, but it’s up to you (and your partner) to do the work! After this the door to the acroyoga world is wide open. Experiment with the positions and flows you have, make up your own, search the internet for more inspiration, find some new acroyogafriends and learn from them, attend workshops, go to retreat and most important of all – Have fun and be kind and honest with your partner!

A big shout out to Emelie who helped me record all these videos. An amazing flyer and an even more amazing person!
-Viktor

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