partner yogaFor years, I always thought of yoga as a solitary act. Even when I was practicing in a room full of people, I kept my attention focused inward and my concentration on my own mind and body. So, on the random occasion that a teacher would tell the class to partner up, I would get frustrated for being taken out of my meditative, solo space. But when I started practicing Acro Yoga, things changed.

Acro Yoga is a relatively new discipline that combines traditional yoga with acrobatics and Thai massage. (The first annual Acro Yoga festival was a couple of weeks ago, and it was amazing—the pictures here, by Kadri Kurgun, are from the event.) If you’ve ever done this practice, you know that the whole point is to practice with other people. You do drills in partnerships, hold each other steady in balancing poses, and then hold each other up in flying poses. You’re interacting in every aspect of the practice.

The more I’ve done AcroYoga, the more I’ve enjoyed it. It’s made me stronger and gives me an incredible sense of joy and freedom. But what’s probably most interesting is that I’ve started to see it as a meditative, concentration, and self-exploratory practice in the same way that I view my solo asana practice. The focus is simply different. For instance, in traditional yoga, I might be concentrating on how my knee aligns over my ankle in Virabhadrasana II. In Acro Yoga, I need to be concentrating on all of the places that I make contact with my partner, and all of the ways that the two of us interact. 

And the conditions of mind that I get to investigate when practicing solo asana–over-efforting, under-efforting, judgment, frustration, and ego–come up equally in Acro Yoga (except in Acro Yoga, I get to notice how I judge not only myself and my teacher, but also my partner!). In this way, Acro Yoga is a laboratory in which you get to see and work with your patterns and habits. If solo asana can be equated to the lessons we learn when we are single, Acro Yoga can be equated to the lessons we learn when in relationship. I think that both practices have an integral place in our development.

Have you done partner yoga or AcroYoga? What has been your experience of it? How does it compare to your solo asana practice? Write in and let us know what you think!

(Photo credits: Kadri Kurgun)