It seems like there’s a new hybrid fitness craze every day. Underwater spinning? Cardio barre? You name it, it exists. But the latest workout to create quite a buzz is AcroYoga, an amalgam of circus-like acrobatics and yoga, most recently made popular by celebs like Lena Dunham, and seen at most any festival circuit.
The Girls creator has been soaring high in seemingly impossible poses (and looked happy doing so), which got us thinking — she may be on to something.
So, what exactly is AcroYoga? “It’s a new practice of acrobatics and therapeutics,” explains New York City-based instructor Lotsie Cash. The practice was founded in 2003 by Californians and yoga enthusiasts Jenny Sauer-Klein and Jason Nemer.
But don’t look for familiar yogi terms like downward-facing dog or pigeon pose. “Everything in AcroYoga has its own name, its own language,” says Cash. The basics? There are typically two to three people — a base, a flyer and often a spotter, who makes sure the others avoid injury. The base is responsible for supporting the flyer and helping them move into different positions while the flyer is acrobatically whisked around into different poses.
There are solar classes, which focus on the acrobatics, as well as lunar, which focus on the therapeutic elements of the practice and incorporate elements from Thai massage. As to why it’s getting more mainstream exposure now? Thank the somewhat exhibitionist nature of AcroYoga combined with an influx of group workouts. “It’s sort of a spectacle,” Cash, 28, a former professional ballet dancer, adds. And high-profile celebrity endorsements from people like Lena don’t hurt.
Curious? There are several AcroYoga studios around the country with concentrations in cities like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Don’t expect a typical yoga class, though. “It’s not aerobic exercise, per se,” clarifies Cash. “It’s more about deep core strength and flexibility.” And, it goes without saying, trust for the people who are hurtling you into the air.
By its nature, AcroYoga is tailor-made for couples and can help facilitate trust and cooperation — not to mention flexibility. And don’t worry if you’re coming solo, the classes are extremely welcoming. “It’s such a broad practice, so there’s something that everyone can do,” says Cash.