Are you looking for new ways to spice up your asanas? If so, it’s time to join ranks with yoga pioneers, those who are breaking down the barriers of tradition and changing the face of their preferred exercise. The results are exciting, albeit unusual, and a few of these variations may remind you of circus performers with their gravity-defying stunts and acrobatic movements.
Each fluid transition turns the yogi into a captivating dancer in all three of these variations. Don’t let that discourage you from trying them for yourself, however. Every style of yoga has stages and modifications so even the most novice can feel comfortable while stretching and testing their limits. A bit of practice and mindful concentration can go a long way, and with time you too may be able to somersault, spin and leap as if you were weightless.
Yoga is the name, awareness is the game, and people are never more alert than when they are in contact with other individuals. In this variation, partners support each other through stretches and poses that promote awareness of the self and others. This exercise is all about teamwork and trust. Wanderlust captures the essence of Acroyoga in this video of two skillful yogis practicing at an elevation of 11,000 feet.
As you will see, each partner assists the other through a series of stretches and poses that build strength, flexibility, deep breathing and mindfulness, which are all common benefits of yoga. The mover, otherwise known as the Base, guides the one being moved, known as the Flyer. The Base must focus on aligning his/her arms and legs with their torso, stacking the bones in preparation of the Flyer’s weight. The Flyer befriends gravity as he/she inverts, bends and rolls through the air, relying on the Base’s feet and hands for support. In some cases, especially when learning Acroyoga, a spotter is present. Their task is to watch over the Base and Flyer and step in if assistance is necessary. After each session, the Flyer treats the Base to Thai Massage, an ancient healing activity.
This is a wonderful exercise for anyone who enjoys gymnastics or acrobatics. It also suits playful personalities, and can be a great bonding experience for yoga-loving couples.
No mat, no problem. A silk trapeze is all you need as you defy gravity and “fly” through the air. Aerial or anti-gravity yoga is a combination of Pilates, asanas, acrobatics and dance. The yogi will flow through a series of positions while sitting on, or hanging from, a hammock that has been suspended from the ceiling to a height based on the yogi’s preference (typically between the waist and shoulders).
Style varies between each school of aerial yoga. Some use the hammocks as tools to modify and dramatize routine yoga sequences. Others delve deeper into the acrobatics side.
It is believed that inverting and hanging from a hammock can lengthen the spine and provide additional assistance in toning muscles. However, the health benefits have yet to be explored, as this style only became popular over the last decade. The hammock may also be used as a prop and help some find their centers as they bend and stretch, activities that may be difficult on a mat.
Video: Kyle Hoffman
If you’ve ever watched Tai Chi, you have an idea of the fluidity observed in Budokon yoga. This is a blend of three ancient traditions: yoga, martial arts, and meditation. Unlike many modern versions of traditional yoga, these poses are not held in place. Instead, the postures are waves, flowing and ebbing from each transition to the next. Budokon has two main elements, the yoga sun salutations (which warms up the body) followed by a martial arts-inspired routine. Movements are synchronized with breath, in true vinyasa fashion.
Kicks, punches, and jumps all make up the martial arts portion of this exercise, which will spice up your experience and get the blood flowing in ways new to yogis. Transitions from one posture to the next are still smooth, especially when compared to typical martial arts, and movements are uninterrupted.