When you're a little kid, there are few things more exhilarating than playing “superman”, flying high on your mom or dad's feet. Then later, as an adult, you find a zen state of mind in the ritual of yoga. Now, imagine if you could combine those two blissful states of mind…
That unique combination is the latest fitness craze to sweep the country- AcroYoga, a mixture of traditional yoga, Thai massage, and acrobatics. The scope of the practice is broad and includes circle ceremony, asana, partner flow, Thai massage, therapeutic flying, dynamic (acrobatic flying), inversions & spotting, and partner balancing. In addition to the physical & mental benefits, the unique aspect of working with a partner cultivates trust, connection, & playfulness.
Back in 2004, Carolyn Cohen helped build the practice of AcroYoga in California along with its co-founders, Jason Nemer and Jenny Sauer-Klein. Known as a Senior Teacher of AcroYoga, she co-facilitated teacher trainings and taught around the globe before moving to Lambertville and opening her holistic studio, Jaya Healing Arts. Along with help from her AcroYoga partner, Dion, Carolyn leads locals of all acrobatic and yogic levels to soar through the sky.
After watching some impressive, and admittedly intimidating, YouTube videos (like the one below), I set out to attempt my first AcroYoga class. Having always loved tumbling as a child, I couldn't resist a class that encouraged adults to do handstands.
Seven participants of varying body types, ages, and levels of experience gathered at 21 Bridge Street in Lambertville for the 90 minute class. The other participants welcomed us first-timers warmly; bonds forming quickly with the knowledge that we would soon be lifting each other into the air. Although Carolyn and Dion explained that we would break out into smaller groups so that we could all attempt flying; inversions; & spotting, I couldn't help but be skeptical. How could a 130 lb woman lift a 180 man? You expect me to balance in what position?!
Always up for an adventure, though, I dove head first into the practice (quite literally) and soon found myself both soaring through the air and spinning men & women on my feet. I was enjoying fitness in a carefree way that I hadn't since childhood. After a yoga asana warm-up and about 45 minutes of entry-level acrobatics (aka Dynamic Flying), the class ended with a treat for the muscles, a brief Thai massage (and believe me, they needed it!).
After leaving class, much of what I had read about AcroYoga before attempting the practice became clear. What some may write off as a silly way to spend time had, in fact, a rather profoun d impact. In addition to the physical challenge of the activity which left my muscles sore for days, the atmosphere of togetherness; communication; and playfulness left me feeling unusually rejuvenated.
Perhaps that little kid who loved to play “superman” is still in there after all.