As someone who thoroughly enjoys a good Ashtanga class, I am not averse to structure. Those who know me personally might consider that an understatement. I admit it: I’m a major planner and organization freak. That said, I love yoga for the freedom, creativity and playfulness it invites. As a teacher, there is nothing that energizes me more than putting together a sequence with unexpected twists and turns (literally) to keep people engaged and challenged. I think it is this spirit of play that makes Acroyoga so appealing to me and many others who have jumped on this evolution of circus/monkey yoga.
Per Wikipedia, Acroyoga is “a physical practice which blends elements of yoga, acrobatics, performance and healing arts.” I love it because it encourages practitioners to think outside of the box in yoga poses and find a way to make postures not only functional but fun. One of my all-time favorite Acro assists, and one that I have brought out a couple times during my private client sessions, is Down Dog on Down Dog. Ok, so that doesn’t exactly sound appropriate for all audiences but there’s no better way to sum it up.
To start, you’ll need at least two adventurous souls. Have one person come into their downward facing dog. The second person then comes to a standing forward fold in front of the first person’s hands (your heels should be a couple inches in front of their fingertips). Person two then presses their palms into the mat and lifts their right leg placing the foot on the top right side of their partner’s pelvic bone (your heal should be close to their sacrum, your toes pointing out and gripping their love handles – for lack of a better term). Next, person two presses into their hands and right foot strongly so that they can steadily float the left leg up, placing the foot on the top left side of their partner’s pelvic bone – your toes should essentially be gripping the sides of their lower back.
Once in position, make sure your feet are centered on their back, distributing your weight evenly. The more you press into their lower back with your feet, the more lightness they will feel in their arms and the deeper you’ll help them take the stretch into their hamstrings, calves and Achilles tendon. If you push hard enough, you can even make their hands float off the ground (levitation!). The top dog will also get a good stretch in the back of their legs, as well as some serious core and shoulder work – a.k.a. handstand prep.
Go outside, find a soft surface (just in case you tumble a time or two) and give it a try. Good times guaranteed!