On my quest to try out the many flavors of yoga, I had no doubt I would find some new ones to try when in Los Angeles for the Tadasana Festival. My search didn’t take long as I soon happened upon the lovely yoginis from Yoga at the Raven, offering Acro Yoga sessions smack dab in the middle of the Tadasana Festival grounds.
For those of you unfamiliar with Acro Yoga, also affectionately called “Thai and Fly,” it is a joyful practice that combines therapeutic Thai massage with acrobatics. What? Yeah, I know it sounds like an unlikely mash-up, but I’m here to tell you that the two elements make an awesome pairing.
A typical Acro Yoga class is 1.5 hours and includes partner acrobatic yoga work followed by Thai massage. At the festival they were offering 15-, 30-, and 60-minute sessions. I was short on time in between classes, so I opted for the 15-minute experience.
Since this was my first foray into Acro Yoga, my incredible yogini partner Sarah Yovovich did most (who am I kidding – she did it all) of the work as she took me through some foundational acrobatic partner moves. I just held onto her wrists and leaned back, and she flew me up and through the air. As soon as I went airborne, I felt like I was 8 years old, playing, flying, and getting a kick-ass stretch throughout my back.
As she gently and skillfully maneuvered me through more poses, I began feeling a little like a rock star, and I was laughing and smiling, all of which, by the way, are elements I strive to achieve in every yoga practice.
I’m spotting a trend. Once again in the course of just a few months, I found myself in an inverted supta baddha konasana, and just like when I did this asana in the aerial and wall yoga formats, it felt amazing in a levitated state!
The coolest part is that I never once was afraid I would fall. I had only met Sarah a few minutes prior to this session, yet I knew she had my back.
If you want to see what Acro Yoga is really supposed to look like, check out this video of Sarah and Lara Catone demonstrating a few “simple” moves.
Acro Yoga is the yoga of relationship. You get to connect with your partner to bring him or her a sense of centeredness, trust, mutual support, and joy.
When the circus-like acrobatic moves were done, Sarah began the Thai massage part along with one of her colleagues, so I was basically lying on my back with the hands of two women all over me.
Normally, I would be melting into this ultimate massage experience, but being outside with festival participants looking on, I was not letting myself 100% go. Sarah urged me to relax and proceeded to give me some really great advice. She explained that it’s really tough for some people to receive, and she asked me to think about how good it feels when giving a gift to someone who totally loves that gift. “Remember how great it feels, and then be that person loving the gift when you get a massage,” she said. I love simple analogies like that, and next time I’m on a massage table (or am the recipient of a gift), I know I will recall Sarah’s words of wisdom.
If you want to build strength, love to fly, and want to cultivate a practice of trust and connection, then Acro Yoga is for you! It’s playful and fun, with the added benefit of therapeutic stretching and massage.
Thankfully I was wearing my performance MPG Sport Serene jacket that moved with me during this flying acrobatic practice and kept me warm on that chilly day at the beach while I was getting my Thai massage.
Sending big thanks to Sarah for taking the time to explain the aspects of Acro Yoga and also for sharing her story of how she traveled the globe for over a year teaching Acro Yoga, bringing together all of her passions – yoga, gymnastics, and healing – to find her bliss. I received a lot of messages from the universe about following my bliss while at Tadasana Festival, and Sarah was yet another shining inspiration.
I don’t know of any studios in Ohio offering Acro Yoga (if you do, please let me know), but you can get an awesome Thai massage from Tracy Rhinehart at Yoga Bliss Akron.