Many of my friends enjoy yoga as much as I do, but our practices never really cross paths. Even on the rare occasions we'd attend a session together, it was never a joint effort once we reached the mat.
It wasn't until YouTube randomly suggested I check out AcroYoga tutorials that I realized just how collaborative yoga could be. The social, acrobatic display of two people completing poses while intertwined looked like a fun challenge.
Certified AYI teacher Anna Karides confirms that AcroYoga is all about moving beyond your self-limiting ideas of what you can and can't do, while offering a unique opportunity to relate on a deeper level with someone else — like someone you're social distancing with.
"Trust, connection, and playfulness are the major principles of AcroYoga," she adds. "AcroYoga is a very social style of yoga that brings people together, so it's not just about taking your practice to another level."
Once you're flying in the air thanks to the support of your roommate's feet (yes, that is a pose!), you'll realize just how much you have to let go and trust in others' strength — a skill Karides says translates to daily life.
AcroYoga isn't all about growing an emotional and spiritual connection with your practice and partner, though. Karides says that challenging poses in your solo practice can be achieved safely with the support of someone else, while also teaching your body how to build strength and loosen up in new ways.
The practice sounds intimidating, sure, but know that you don't have to be a gymnast (or anything close to it) to enjoy this adventurous flow.
"AcroYoga poses might seem hard at first, and the word 'acrobatic' tends to scare people off. But once people try it, they realize that it's all about trust and technique," Karides says.
If you do this, you'll leave the class (or virtual session) lighter, stronger, and happier, with a sense of achievement after accomplishing more than you ever imagined possible, she adds.
And while having prior yoga experience could give you an upper hand, AcroYoga is great for all levels. Remember that you can always rely on pose modifications and variations for more challenging moves if needed.
Don't let a lack of open yoga studios stop you from getting started, either. AcroYoga can be practiced anywhere that space allows, Karides says — but safety is paramount.
Working on advanced poses with the same partner could be beneficial because you and that person can develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of each other's bodies, Karides says.
Be mindful of your skill level when signing up for online sessions, too — especially if you lack in-person guidance and the monitoring of someone experienced. Having a third participant (maybe another roommate or family member in your household!) to act as a spotter is a great way to help prevent injuries.
"The hands and eyes of a teacher cannot be replaced, not just for safety but also for spotting small 'mistakes' in the technique that can make a massive difference," says Karides.
Now that we covered some safety basics, let's circle back to what AcroYoga is all about: socializing and having fun with your practice. Just imagining myself holding my roommate in the air as she floats in yoga poses makes me laugh — the giggles are going to be nonstop once we actually try AcroYoga for ourselves.