6 Reasons to Try Acro Yoga

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 2.44.04 PM We asked Acro Yoga superstar Katie Thacker to give us the low-down on why Acro is flying high and gaining popularity amongst avid yogi's and beginners alike. 

(Above photo thanks to the Victoria Yoga Conference  - Feb 5th-7th in Victoria B.C.)

6 Reasons to Try Acro Yoga by Katie Thacker

Acro yoga is a combination of acrobatics, yoga and thai massage brought together to make a super creative, fun, but challenging practice. In acro yoga there are three different roles an individual can play… Base- the person who has the most contact with the ground and supports the flyer… Flyer- the person who is physically lifted away from the ground and supported by the base… Spotter- the person whose sole purpose is to keep the flyer and the base safe by physically supporting the flyer in the case of a slip or fall, or by providing guidance on how to improve alignment of the pose.

As a former competitive gymnast and dedicated yogi, Acro Yoga and I fell in love pretty quickly. What I didn’t fully understand at first, was how much I would learn on a personal level and how powerful Acro Yoga can be for creating connections and community. I am blessed to have a partner, Brandon, who loves Acro maybe even more than I do. We have been working over the past year to create a strong community of acro yogis in Victoria, BC. Since last October we have held over 25 different acro yoga events in the city including jams, workshops, and demos.

Acro yoga has challenged us in ways we never expected. It has pushed us out of our comfort zones and allowed us to become better humans and better yogis. It has also caused a beautiful and well connected community to manifest. Here are my top 6 reasons YOU should try Acro Yoga:

 

Trust noun

  • reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person; confidence.
  • a person on whom one relies

 

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Acro yoga is a huge builder of trust. In acro yoga you are trusting others, sometimes complete strangers, to keep you safe and supported. When is the last time you let someone you just met physically pick you up, or you picked up someone you just met? Most people would probably answer that question with a “never”, and just the thought of it can be terrifying! It brings up issues of self confidence, ability, trust and more. In Acro Yoga, we rely on one another to provide a sense of support, strength, and confidence on a physical and emotional level. Together we work to overcome fears of feeling unsupported. Together we work to overcome fears of lacking ability and strength. Together we work to overcome fears of trusting others. I have to say, it feels pretty darn good to work with a group of people and succeed in something you may have been afraid of doing.

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Communication noun

  • the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., to someone else

 

An integral part of practicing Acro Yoga is learning to communicate with the people you are working with. Your safety depends on it! Those of you who have tried Acro Yoga understand that as soon as your feet leave the ground, spacial awareness disappears. It is not always possible to describe to your Acro partners where you want them to place their right foot or left hand.  A lot of times communication during Acro is more successful if it is nonverbal. For example, a simple squeeze of the hand can determine where and how to move next. When working with others, it is important that you are able to express when sometime doesn’t feel right or you feel unsafe. It is equally important to be able to express gratitude to those who make you feel supported and help you to succeed. Acro yoga can encourage you to be more expressive with your emotions. Acro Yoga can help to develop clear and concise communication on a verbal and physical level.

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Surrender noun

  • to give the control or use of (something) to someone else

 

One of the most challenging parts of playing the role of the flyer is that you have to let go of control. As the flyer, the more you try to control the pose, the harder it is for the base to get stable and provide support. The base has to be the one guiding the way. This was one of the hardest parts for me personally, especially when learning acro with my partner in life and love. Being a pretty independant and strong willed human, I wanted to do all of the work as a flyer. I wanted to direct him where to go and how to move. I quickly learned that I am at the mercy of his movements and the more I try to control them, the harder it is for him. It results in a negative feedback loop of me trying to adjust and move and him trying to counter it. Once I found how to surrender the control as the flyer, our practice became so easeful! I have worked to take this skill of surrendering outside of my Acro practice as a reminder that sometimes trying to control situations can cause them to be even more unenjoyable!

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Strength noun

  • the quality or state of being physically strong
  • the quality that allows someone to deal with problems in a determined and effective way

 

On a physical level, acro yoga can help you to build strength and flexibility very quickly. As a base, hamstrings, hips and low back will become stronger and more flexible. As a flyer, back body strength and overall stabilization through your body increase. The base and flyer both get a stronger core. This is a benefit as the physical strength you gain can help you to be an even more supportive base, flyer and spotter.

On an emotional and mental level, Acro Yoga can sometimes be like solving a puzzle. As you try to connect postures and improve your skill level, you will challenge and develop the spatial awareness of your body. The aspect of working with others will help you to develop effective problem solving skills as you work together to figure out a new transition.

 

Connection noun

  • the act of connecting two or more things or the state of being connected

 

Once you have flown/based/spotted people through a difficult pose or helped one another to accomplish something new, a connection is formed. A lot of times the people that support you during Acro are helping you to overcome your fears. They are helping you to find a deeper understanding of your body and mind. They are helping you to transform. Even if you don’t fully realize it at first, the exchange of emotions and of physical contact (in a platonic manner) help to form a bond, a connection between people.

 

Community noun

  • a group of people with diverse characteristics who are linked by social ties, share common perspectives, and engage in joint action

 

The result of this growth and transformation is a thriving community of yogis who understand how to communicate with one another, how to support one another and who truly grow together. These aren’t just people that have a similar interest. These are people that physically and emotionally lift one another up, help each other to overcome difficulties in their lives, and cause each other to leave every acro practice with a huge ear-to-ear smile. We would love you to join our wonderful community. Give Acro Yoga a try!

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Interested in trying Acro Yoga? Here are some awesome people to work with on Vancouver Island:

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Victoria:

  • Beginner Acro Workshop on September 26th
  • Acro Jams every second Monday
  • Beginner Acro Workshop in Tofino @ Coastal Bliss on October 17th

Nanaimo:

  • Acro Jams, Progressive Series and Beginner Workshops

Shawnigan Lake:

  • Acro Jams and Progressive Series

 

About Katie Thacker

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Katie is a yoga teacher, plant eater, and nature appreciator from Victoria, BC. Katie teaches vinyasa, yin, yoga nidra and beginner acro workshops at multiple locations in Victoria. For information on Katie plus her upcoming acro events in Victoria please visit her website www.domestikatie.ca or connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.