Yoga might be the last thing you think of when someone says “extreme sports,” but here’s a twist on an old routine: yoga combined with acrobatics in an intense, partnered skill called AcroYoga. Think of it as extreme yoga, or yoga as a contact sport. This non-traditional pursuit features poses that even experienced yogis have never seen, like one partner lying on his back and, with just one foot in the air, supporting another partner who is balanced in a flying posture. It’s a gravity-defying, graceful form of yoga that—through physical contact with a partner—also offers that benefits of acupressure and reflexology.
AcroYoga was started several years ago by Jason Nemer and Jenny Sauer-Klein, two experienced San Francisco yogis who also have backgrounds in gymnastics and circus arts. As this discipline grows in popularity, classes, workshops, and retreats have become available in cities throughout North America, Asia, Australia, Europe, and South America. While most classes are up to 90 minutes long, workshops last 2 to 3 hours each, and focus on conditioning, stretching, and—perhaps most important of all—learning to trust and support your partner, who will soon be lifting you into the air.
Those with serious injuries or high blood pressure are advised to stay away from this rigorous practice; even though it’s not quite as rigid as some forms of yoga, AcroYoga does require a certain focus and a willingness to adapt your practice to a partner’s needs and limitations. But the benefits can be tremendous, say the founders, who claim AcroYoga releases tension from the spine as well as enhancing concentration, focus, and flexibility. And how many other extreme sports have participants who hug after working out together?