I am so fired up, not to mention extremely sore, from my first AcroYoga workshop. This style of partner yoga takes traditional asana to a gymnastic level combining trust, strength, flexibility, and a lot of courage. Regardless of your yoga background, nothing compares to the feeling of taking flight for the first time.
The workshop, taught by Vermont's first certified AcroYoga teacher, was based on the partner yoga style created by Jason Nemer and Jenny Sauer-Klein. AcroYoga blends Contact Yoga (therapeutic flying), acrobatics, and Thai massage. Having previous experience with partner yoga, I honestly thought this workshop would be pretty easy; maybe I'd learn a new trick or two. Wow, was I wrong. The class moved right into practicing headstands on our partner's thighs while they held Half Wheel. We were all a little leery about placing our heads in between a stranger's legs and lifting into headstand, but surprisingly, it was tremendously easier than I thought, and much, much more fun.
To find out what else you can expect from an AcroYoga workshop, keep reading.
The instructor quickly realized we all had strong yoga backgrounds, so we moved on to trying headstands on our partner's hands (pictured above). I was a little skeptical about how the person on top (the flier) would launch themselves upside down without falling over, but we learned a trick for walking up our partner's legs, making it a cinch to lift up slowly. A third person spotted the flier if they lost their balance, which helped put my mind at ease. As the base, my arms shook from working so hard, and my shoulders instantly felt like I had done 50 push-ups. That's the moment I fell in love with AcroYoga. My muscles were pushed to their limit, but the greater the challenge, the more I could accomplish. After doing that pose I was so proud that I held up another person with my own two hands. I felt like one of those contortionist performers in Cirque du Soleil!
Now for the big bang. We learned how to do Candlestick (top photo), where I actually did a headstand balancing on my partner's feet. Standing by the base's head, I placed my shoulders on the soles of her feet. We held hands and after a couple of really huge jumps, I finally made it up. Being upside down in all these versions of flying headstands took all the pressure off my head and neck; I felt weightless, like I could hold headstand forever.
At the end of the workshop, it felt like one of those life-changing experiences where you run your first 10K or finally reach the top of a climbing wall. It had a profound change in me, physically, but more so, mentally. I feel stronger now than before flying and am so in awe of my body's capabilities. If you have the opportunity to take an AcroYoga workshop, do it! Some yoga experience helps, especially with inversions, but mostly you need a playful personality and trust in yourself.
If any of you have done AcroYoga, please share your experience below.