Intelligence is present everywhere in our bodies . . . our own inner intelligence is far superior to any we can try to substitute from the outside.
My first encounter with AcroYoga was in India, with relative strangers. I’d met Jacob for the first time that morning in an internet cafe. He and his equally kind friend took me up on my offer to spend the day together exploring Shimla. During a tour of one of the city’s historical buildings, we found a large, green field on which to relax for a few hours. We hadn’t been sitting on the grassy ground for more than a few minutes when they both started to naturally move their bodies into various yoga positions.
After taking a few photos, I immediately put my camera down to observe fully as they started to perform amazing lifts and poses with each other. I later discovered that my organic introduction to AcroYoga–a combination of yoga, acrobatics and healing techniques–was fortuitously appropriate for the intuitive practice that, in my opinion, begs to be experienced outdoors in the natural world.
Though I’d never before seen AcroYoga practiced, with the help of my new friends I was able to do some of the beginner poses within minutes. Lest you falsely believe that this quick progression was due to some innate talent I have, rest assured that it’s not: I’m generally quite hesitant to trust other people with my body and I’m also fairly apprehensive about being lifted off the ground. (In high school, I didn’t make the cheerleading team because I adamantly refused to be lifted by anyone! While disappointing at the time, I now see the humor in this clearly problematic clash of interests.) And yet, despite this, I easily managed to get air-born with AcroYoga in an experience truly unlike anything else. I felt empowered and free, connected with both people and the natural world.
Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain.
–Carl G. Jung
Founded in 2003 by American Jenny Sauer-Klein and Mexican Jason Nemer, AcroYoga is a way to simultaneously engage our bodies, connect with other people, and transform our spirits:
“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.”
If you’re not into yoga or acrobatics, I still feel confident in encouraging you to give AcroYoga a try. Fundamentally, the experience is about being human: cultivating awareness, trust, and connection remain foremost, while partnering postures simply act as the medium through which we’re able to develop these subtle life skills. Like other forms of movement practice, such as contact improvisation, dance meditation or Biodanza, AcroYoga enables us to engage with the parallels between our experience inside a session and our existence outside in the real world. Developing communication skills and increasing our ability to trust, both emotionally and physically, are just some of the areas of self that become naturally enhanced with this mindful practice.
By focusing on the inherent connection between our corporeal, mental, and emotional experiences, AcroYoga creates a safe platform off of which we can then launch ourselves: now boundlessly diving into life’s copious facets with greater confidence, knowing we’ll be gently caught by our newfound sense of security and strength (both within ourselves and others), the lessons learned from this modern, nuanced aerial practice prove to be deeply ingrained within our beautiful bones; our sacred flesh.
Equally similar among these practices is the inherent irrelevance of body size and shape. Anyone who’s observed an AcroYoga session with more than a few participants has likely seen first-hand the endless opportunities made possible through partnering: small people readily lift larger people, as proper technique and an open attitude are the primary determinants of our ability to execute poses. I’ve seen women practically half my size lift people twice my size, seemingly without strenuous physical effort.
“When was the last time you let someone else physically move you? A good AcroYoga class creates a safe container in which participants learn the art of allowing movement. Depending on the material taught, this could mean total engagement, utter release, or some degree of both. Everyone in class goes through the same experience. As you learn to support others, you end up allowing yourself to be supported. This is a fundamental of trust: take control by letting go.” –Daniel Scott, AcroYoga instructor
Allowing ourselves to be moved by life is a worthy ambition that can be achieved here and now with mindful practices like AcroYoga. Opening ourselves to being with other people in such an intimate, connected way helps us to cultivate trust, communication skills and body intelligence, which we can then take with us off our yoga mat–or, in my case, grassy field–and into our everyday lives.
Being in touch with our bodies, or more accurately, being our bodies, is how we know what is true.
–Harriet Goldhor Lerner