Tired of the same ol’ Downward Facing Dog, practice after practice? Then grab a partner who is as excited about twisting into a two-headed pretzel as you are and give Acro Yoga a try!
But keep in mind that this isn’t beginner’s practice. Flexibility, strength, and a little bravery are a must. Although this is a very extreme form of yoga/acrobatics, it is also quite subtle and correct alignment is crucial, so invite a spotter who can check your form and help keep you safe.
With a little patience and practice, you’ll be part of a private Cirque Du Soleil a deux in no time!
Here are 10 Acro Yoga poses and how to do them.
1. Double Plank
What’s better than plank? Double planks!
To get into this pose, the base person assumes the plank position, which is the starting point of a push-up. Palms flat on the ground, fingers fanned open, shoulders in alignment with the wrists. Legs extend out straight, toes curled under with the back of the heels directly in alignment with the toes.
Assuming the position with a straight back that should allow a subtle straight line of descending from the shoulders all the way down to the feet. The top person now climbs onto the base, taking the hands to the base’s ankles and placing the toes on the base’s shoulders.
This pose works your legs, glutes, core, back, and arms.
To accomplish this pose the base lies down flat on the back with knees bent and feet toward the sky. The feet must be separated wide enough so that the base is able to place the heels at the top of the thigh and run the foot straight up so the toes are at about lower rib cage of the top person.
The base’s arch of the foot will cradle the hips of the top person. The base then grabs the hands of the top person and straightens the legs, lifting the top off the ground. The base locks the arms into place so the top feels stable.
With the help of a spotter, the top can bend the knees and wrap her legs around the front of the base’s legs.
As the top engages the core, glutes and back muscles, they will lift the torso up, letting go of the hands, and securely tuck the top of the feet behind the base’s calve muscles, tucking toes to stay in place. This will position the base’s foot to now cradle the back of the legs either mid thigh or near the crook of the knees.
Top person properly aligns the spine so they sit straight up and can position their hands out or together at the heart.
For the top person this pose stretches the hamstrings, inner thighs, and shins. It strengthens the legs, glutes, core, and back and feels pretty freaking amazing once it’s accomplished. The base strengthens legs and core.
3. Back Bird
Voluptuous butts and big feet come in handy in this pose.
To move into this one the base starts in the staff pose position on the ground. Top person turns their back to the back of the base’s legs. The base bends the knees as the top sits their butt in the cradle of the sole of the base’s feet.
Top person’s arms reach back, palms faced out so base can grab the hands. Top person leans back as base straightens legs lifting the partner up to fly. Top person straightens the left leg while bending the right knee in and up. Top person stretches into a semi-back bend position and base lets go of the hands so top can reach the arms out to fly.
This pose is a beautiful marriage of balance, strength, and flexibility. For the top person it stretches the entire front portion of the body while strengthening the back portion. Base strengthens arms, legs, and core.
Keep a spotter close to avoid injury and ensure proper structure.
Mermaid is an elegant and challenging pose that requires a delicate balancing act on the base’s feet. To accomplish this pose begin exactly the same way as throne pose.
Once balanced in throne the top person will then un-tuck the right foot from the base’s straight leg. Being careful to keep equal weight balance on the soul of the base’s feet, bending the right knee up and back so the right set of toes can tuck into the crook of the right bent arm. Reaching the left arm up and over, clenching the left fingertips with the right ones.
This pose contains all the benefits of throne with the added inducement of a glorious quad, arms, shoulder, and chest stretch. The base strengthens legs and core.
5. Forearm Butterfly
Might as well try one more while in the throne, mermaid sequence. To get into this supported arm balance start the same way one would prepare for throne and mermaid.
The base has the top person secure by holding on to their hands while both their arms are straight and locked into place. Base also has feet in proper alignment at the thighs, hips, and rib cage.
Once the top person feels stable, the base simply bends one arm as the top bends his, lining up his forearms with each other, then the other arms lock into the same position. Now the top person bends his knees and takes the sole of the feet together.
Keeping core, glutes, and arms engaged to create lightness for the base. Top person looks up and forward and that will create a forearm butterfly pose.
For the top person this pose is great for stretching the core, chest, inner thighs, and neck. It strengthens the arms, core, and glutes. The base strengthens the legs, core, chest, and arms.
6. Inverted Lotus
This acro yoga pose definitely needs a strong spotter close by, just to be safe.
The base is flat on her back, while the top person gets ready for the pose by taking handstand with the hands at about mid waist to the base. The base opens the legs enough to position feet so that the top person can bend and rest the top of the thighs on them.
Once the top feels secure they take one foot to cross over and tuck into the crook of the thigh, while the other leg crosses up and over the bottom one, foot tucking into the opposite thigh. Top person engages core and legs to create lightness when they rest the weight of the body on the base. Taking hands to heart center and smiling big, because this duo just accomplished a very complicated upside down pretzel.
For the top person this pose helps strengthen core, back, and legs. It’s a great stretch for the groin, knees, and legs. It promotes healthy blood circulation, calms the body and mind. Base strengthens legs and core.
7. Backbend & Downward Facing Dog Combo Pack
This is what’s called a truly symbiotic yoga pose relationship.
The base person assumes the downward facing dog position by placing hands and knees on the mat. Shoulders lined up with wrists and hips lined up with knees. Curl the toes under, press into the hands and lift the bottom as the legs straighten, creating a sharp upside down V shape with the body.
The top person can also start off in downward dog, with base and tips of fingers touching to get into the back bend. Top person kicks the feet up and over until they land on the bases sacral area, using the core and strength of the arms to flip over.
The top person will gain the benefits of strengthening the arms, stretching the chest and shoulders, and increasing spine flexibility. The base will gain the benefits of stretching and strengthening the whole body, lowering blood pressure, and increasing blood flow to the brain.
8. Whale Pose
Whale pose is another great acro yoga stretch for the front of the body and although it looks a bit tough it is quite easy to accomplish.
Base begins once again lying flat on the back with the legs extended upward to the sky. The top person begins with their back to the base with the feet hip distance apart near the base’s shoulders.
Base grabs the top’s ankles, bends the knees and pulls them toward the chest so that the top person can lean back onto the base’s feet. Base positions the feet with heels near the shoulders, sole of the foot running down the shoulder blades and toes near mid back. Base works together with top person by straightening the legs and lifting with the arms.
To stretch the top person, base will reach the arms above head while securing legs in proper position, ankles aligned with hips.
The pose feels incredibly liberating because it gives the top person a deep stretch throughout the whole front of the body. Base strengthens arms, legs, and core.
9. Warriors Intertwined
This pose is going to take two fierce warriors that are willing to tangle up together to accomplish it.
The base assumes the Warrior 2 position by taking a wide stance, right leg straight with outside edge of the foot parallel with the back of the mat. Left toes are pointed forward (inside edge of foot parallel with the side of the mat) opening the leg up to stretch the inner thigh, bending the knee to line up with the ankle. Tucking the tailbone to engage the core and reach arms out to the side so shoulders are lined up with hips.
Top person stands behind base and wraps the right leg up and over the base’s left leg, tucking the toes under the base’s calf muscle. Top person takes the right hand and secures it on the base’s left shoulder. Then engages the core, glutes, and leg muscles and hangs from the shoulder and lifts the left leg straight out. Peeking the head and right arm out from the right side of base’s body.
The top and base both strengthen the core, glutes, legs, back, and arms. This is another one that needs a spotter close by.
10. Bow on Chair
Hopping into this acro yoga pose will make anyone look as if she is a centaur from Greek mythology! It is somewhat of a crazy trust exercise, so its best if this pose is done last.
The base will get into a stable wide legged chair pose, feet separated, knees bent, and bottom leaning back so that the tips of the toes are visible when looking down past the knees. The top person will cuddle in so their bottom is near the pelvic region of the base. The base will lean down and wrap the arms around the waist of the top person, wrapping the left hand around the right wrist to secure a lock in with the top person.
Once this happens the top person jumps up quickly and wraps their legs around the base, bring big toes to touch. Base leans back as top person leans forward, creating a symbiotic balance of weights holding each person in place. Top person reaches arms back and lifts head with a smile.
The top person strengthens the back, core, arms, glutes, and legs in this pose, while stretching the chest and quads. The base strengthens the legs, glutes, core, back, chest, and arms in this pose.
If you’re not ready for Acro Yoga but still want to try yoga, check out Beachbody’s 3 Week Yoga Retreat to learn the fundamentals.