Acro Yoga

By Stephanie Young – February 1, 2018
Photography by Brian Fitzsimmons

This acro yoga inspired workout requires loads of trust and partner communication, including openness to your partner’s feedback. Doing a workout where you and your partner are each other’s gym equipment adds a new element of balance and awareness to your routine, not to mention the most important element—fun! To begin your journey with acro yoga, or sharpen your existing skills, visit Lache Movement Co. for weekly (beginner-friendly) classes.

1. Counterbalance Squats

Start position: Stand facing your partner, about one foot away (the closer you are, the more difficult the skill becomes). Keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Hands come to an arm wrestle grip (the back of your hands face your partner). 
Action: Keep feet planted and body in a straight line; release one hand. At the same time, slowly lean away from each other until you come to counterbalance with straight arms. Talk with your partner if you need more or less lean from them. After you feel balanced, slowly bend knees at the same time until the hanging hand touches the ground, then come back up. The key is to match each other’s speed and remain counterbalanced! Once you’ve done enough squats with one side, switch to the other.
Awareness Tip: To maintain balance, arms remain straight at all times. Stay leaning back, and keep your chest up.

2. Counterbalance Jump Squats (option to 180)

Start position: Similar to counterbalance squats above, but you will have a forearm grip. 
Action: When facing your partner, grab forearms and lean back. Slowly go to your squat position, but the goal is to jump straight up at the same time/speed as your partner. Play with it! Start with a small jump to get the feel. Option to jump 180 degrees, ending up where your partner started.
Awareness Tip: Avoid the tendency to pull in when jumping; maintain your counterbalance the whole time by keeping arms straight and chest up, leaning back.

3. Partner Pushups (option for base to pushup with flyer) 

Start position: One partner lies flat on their back (we’ll call this partner the base, a common partner acro term). The other partner (we’ll call them the flyer) stands facing the base, their feet on either side of the base’s head. Both partners extend arms towards each other and connect hands using an acro grip (palms flat against each other, index and middle fingers both going down the wrist, and the other fingers wrapped around the palm). Flyer slowly walks out into a plank position (the further back the flyer’s feet go, the harder the push-up).
Action: Flyer slowly starts to descend into a pushup, while keeping elbows in. Remember to keep the body in a straight line, spine neutral, without sinking your shoulders. Talk with your partner if the grip feels too steep or too flat. Option for base to do a pushup at the same time as the flyer.
Awareness Tip: Both partners actively work to keep arms in for maximum strength. Keep wrists strong for maximum stability. 

4. Ski Jumper Presses

Start position: Base lies flat on back, knees bent, feet on the ground, and arms on the ground at side. Flyer stands facing the base, bringing toes to touch the base’s fingertips. (This is usually the ideal distance to stand, but adjust later on if base’s legs are too long). Base places feet parallel on the flyer’s hips. Base’s heels will be below the flyer’s waist, and the ball of his feet will be above the flyer’s waist. Every body is different, so adjust to your comfort. Flyer should maintain a stiff body with hips forward, chest open, and engaged quads and glutes, leaning into the base’s feet. 
Action: The base’s back maintains connection with the ground as he or she bends knees in toward the chest, lowering the flyer toward the body. Go as far down as you’d like, then slowly push the flyer back to their standing position. Pay attention to the weight shift so you don’t push the flyer off balance at the top. 
Awareness Tip: Flyer, your role is to stay as stiff as possible, don’t fold forward!

5. Partner Pull-ups

Start position: Base lays on back with straight legs at a 90 degree angle, creating an “L” shape. Separate legs just enough to where the flyer can sit, facing away from base and holding onto the outer edges of base’s feet. Flyer’s forearms will run along the outside base’s calf. Once the flyer has a good grip on base’s feet and base’s legs are stable, flyer can lay back, extending their arms to straight, walking their feet out to a reverse plank.
Action: Flyer will pull chest up as high as possible, then slowly lower back down, keeping body in a stiff reverse plank the entire time. 
Awareness Tip: For an easier pull-up, flyer bends knees to walk feet in closer before starting the pull-up.

6. Partner Tricep Dips (option to hold an L-sit)

Secure the position: Base lies flat on back, arms extend to the sky, and palms facing up. Flyer stands with feet on either side of base’s torso, facing toward base’s feet. Grip hands behind flyer so there is a straight vertical line from base’s shoulders to flyer’s shoulders.
Action: Flyer places feet on base’s knees to end up with their legs at 90 degrees. From here, flyer slowly dips as far as they can, then presses back up. Option for flyer to lift feet and hold their position in an L-sit.
Awareness Tip: Both base and flyer squeeze their arms in tight and stay stacked, so the energy moves up and not out.

7. Plank to Box

Secure the position: Base lies flat on back, with arms extended to the sky. Flyer stands with feet on either side of base’s torso, facing base’s feet. Flyer bends to grip base’s lower shins (adjust for height differences and comfort level), then lifts one leg to place their lower shin in base’s hand. Once secured with one foot in base’s hand, lift the other leg to the other hand. Flyer should end up in a planked position.
Action: Base initiates a sit-up while flyer initiates coming into an upside-down L shape. The goal is to end up resembling a box shape (square), then slowly lower back to start position.
Awareness Tip: Both base and flyer should keep shoulders pushing up with arms locked, trying not to let shoulders sink back.



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