The roles in Acro Yoga

Acro Yoga is a partner activity and thus it takes two or more people to practice. But what are the roles in Acro Yoga?

The Base

There can be one or more bases in acroyoga, but in its most common (and simplest) form there will be only one. The base has contact with the floor and carries the flyer. The base’s contact with the floor can be either with the back (L-basing, with feet in the air), feet (standing acrobatics) or belly (belly basing, quite rare).

The Flyer

The flyer will, for most of the time, not have any contact with the floor, and will instead move around on top of the base. Again, there are tricks in which more flyers are involved, but in its basic form it is 1 base to 1 flyer.

The Spotter

The spotter is responsible for protecting mainly the flyer from injury during a fall. The spotter can either prevent the fall (corrective spotting) or ensure a slow landing, thus avoiding injury. However, the spotter role can also be filled by either the flyer and/or base – called self-spotting. This is often practiced once the two have become very comfortable with a trick, and know how to fall safely to the ground.

This role is often the most overlooked (especially on the internet). Acro Yoga tricks that are photographed are often well within the limits of the people involved, and thus there is no need for a spotter. Nonetheless, in the daily Acro Yoga practice, where you often challenge yourself to the limits of your capabilities – and thus have a high risk of falling – the spotter is invaluable and your best friend.

Physical benefits of Acro Yoga

Aside from the emotional and social benefits of Acro Yoga there are many physical benefits to the pratice.  

Firstly, it will improve your body awareness: Not only do you move your body in new ways in relation to itself, you also move with another person which creates a whole new dimension. On top of that, you spend much more time upside down than you are used to.

Secondly, it will help you build strength in both the larger muscle groups, but quite uniquely, also in the smaller supporting muscles, that e.g. help with balance. In my opinion this creates a more adept body, that is strong in a more relevant context/way to our normal life. 

Thirdly, your body will become more flexible. Now, I know this is a loaded word to some, so I will allow myself to explain a bit. You will likely become more “passively” flexible, as you will be pressed into certain poses with weight (i.e. another person’s body weight). However, (and in my opinion more importantly) you will also get more “active” flexibility, also known as mobility. By lifting another human from (sometimes weird and random) positions and into your centre of gravity, you build strength in your outer range of motion, which leads to an increased mobility. 

Lastly, you increase your balance. As mentioned, you will gain strength. The strength will help you balance your flyer more easily. On top of that your neuro-muscular pathways are also trained. This allows your body to correct quicker and thus less strength is required (because as a consequence you are less and less moved into outer position, from which more strength is required to pull the weight back into centre). This is why experienced bases are much more stable, even if they are smaller than their flyer, it is simply a matter of technique.