Acro Yoga: What It Is and Why You Should Try It

Fit young couple doing acro yoga at spa retreat on sea beach. Active woman balancing on partner feet, stretching at acroyoga pose. Healthy lifestyle. People outdoor sport activity on family vacation.

Yoga is a popular form of physical activity practiced across the world that’s great for loosening muscles, relieving tension, decreasing stress, improving circulation, and so much more. It’s a beautiful way to get centered and create a stronger connection with yourself.

Yoga branches into many different forms. There’s intense yoga meant for cardio, there’s restorative yoga, and yoga for balance and mobility. One of the more fun and interesting types of yoga is acro yoga.

What is Acro Yoga?

While most forms of yoga are practiced individually, acro yoga is completed with one or two additional people. Acro yoga is a beautiful combination of Thai massage, movement, dance, aerobatics, and traditional poses.  Acro yoga is an exciting way to make a deep connection with a partner, as well as gain more self-confidence. This fun yoga option lets you be as playful as a child.

Acro yoga draws from traditional yoga movements, such as downward dog or plough, and adds forms of Thai massage. Thai massage is a form of stretching and massage that works to relax the body. Unlike other massages, such as hot stone or Swedish, where the receiver passively accepts the massage, Thai massage requires them to move and work with the movements in order to get a deeper stretch and more relaxation.

Acrobatics involves difficult movements that require agility, quick reactions, flexibility, coordination, and balance. Without these aspects of acrobatics, it can be easy to get hurt. The art form of acrobatics allows the body to tell a story; it shows the powers of the human body and its ability to withstand various challenges and pressures. Acrobatics has been admired since ancient times.

A Base and A Flyer

Typically, acro yoga is completed with two people. One person, the base, is responsible for keeping the flyer safe, steady, and in the correct positions. They are to catch the flyer or stop a pose if either of them is going to be hurt. The base is usually on, or closer to the ground and uses their arms and legs to support the flyer in the air. The flyer is the person that is being lifted. They perform stretches and movements using the base as a guide and support. In order to perform these delicate and intriguing movements, you must be familiar with techniques on how to conduct an acro yoga routine safely.

A base and flyer perform acro yoga in grass with city in background


Oftentimes acro yoga involves a third person: a spotter. A spotter is a person that stands near the couple and prepares to catch the flyer if they fall. The spotter communicates with the base by letting them know if or when the flyer is going to fall. They can also provide a different visual perspective that will help ensure poses are being carried out correctly. The spotter should stay at attention and in communication with the pair for the entire session.


One of the most important aspects of acro yoga is communication. The flyer and base must trust and communicate with each other. There must be cooperation, no distractions, and mutual engagement. Acro yoga will push you out of your comfort zone. Having someone you can depend on will make it an easier transition. You must communicate with your partner by breathing, using a safe word, or by facial expressions. Communicate with your partner what your needs are and listen to their needs. Maybe one of you needs to lean a little further, or the other needs to spread their arms a little more.

Learning Acro Yoga

Because acro yoga is one of the more difficult forms of yoga, you must study the trade before you jump right in. This prevents injury and performing the movements incorrectly. You must learn and understand basic terminology, warm-up techniques, flexibility, and proper movements for a healthy performance. Keeping a yoga journal helps you track progress and remember tips and terminology.

A couple performing acro yoga balance positions

Basic Acro Yoga Terminology

  • An acro yogi is someone who practices acro yoga.

  • Poses are the movements, shapes, and stances we put our body in during yoga.

  • Trio poses and tricks require three people, whether it be two bases and a flyer or a spotter with a base and a flyer.

  • A transition is the movement of one pose to another.

  • Jams can be used to refer to open time in a studio for yogis to practice or train.

  • A pop is a movement when the base throws the flyer in the air and they lose contact, even for just a moment.

  • Belly basing is where the base is supporting the flyer while the base is on their belly.

  • I-basing means the base is in a standing position.

  • L-basing means the base is on the ground with their feet in the air.

  • Whip is a swinging transition from one pose to another.


Going straight into yoga, especially acro yoga can be dangerous because when we are at rest our muscles are relaxed. When we start to move and use them, blood circulation increases, and our muscles expand and start to work harder. They become more malleable and open to change. When we don’t accurately warm up first, our muscles progress from rest to exertion too fast. This can cause muscle strain or other injuries. Warmups allow us to prepare our muscles for movement.

There are a number of ways you can warm up. Going for a brisk walk or performing light, bodyweight movements, at low reps, can get your muscles moving. Even bodyweight squats, walking lunges, crunches, and planks can help you prepare for an exciting and effective session!


Acro yoga practice is a great way to increase flexibility, yet it also requires flexibility. Flexibility is a very important aspect of acro yoga. Without flexibility, we are much more apt to get injured. Flexibility is important for improving posture, soreness, mobility, and muscle coordination.

Acro yoga requires a large range of motion. Flexibility is important for improving your range of motion. It makes acro yoga easier and more impactful. Although age, bone structure and size, bulkiness, and connective tissues play a role in flexibility, they can be improved over time. Improving flexibility also improves the shape of your muscles.

Flexibility can be improved through dynamic and static stretching. Dynamic stretching is a movement that stretches a muscle to the end of its ability before releasing it. Arm swings are a great example of dynamic stretching. Static stretching is stretching a muscle until you feel tension, then holding it for 10 – 30 seconds. Reaching over and touching your toes, then holding, would also be a static stretch.

Proper Movements

Because acro yoga can be difficult, focusing on the areas of the body that you’re supposed to be using can prevent you from getting hurt. For example, sometimes during crunches, we will use more of our neck muscles to pull us up rather than our abdominal muscles. This causes tension and soreness in the neck and is less effective for our abs.

One of the most important parts of any style of yoga is using the core muscles in the body. Engaging the core can be done by flexing abdominal muscles or imagining pulling the belly button back towards the spine.

Core muscles are responsible for balance and stability. A weak core can lead to instability and injuries. Strengthening the core will also enhance the acroyogi experience. When doing various movements, it may help to focus on using the core instead of the hip flexors (top of the front of the thigh) or neck muscles. A telltale symptom of core engagement can be the quivering of the abdominal muscles.

It is also important to focus on knee, wrist, and ankle movements. Stretching, bending, flying, and basing the body puts stress on joints. Joints in the knees, wrists, and ankles often receive tension and strain from yoga movements. However, this movement can be good for joints when done correctly. To prevent or decrease joint stress, it is important to align the directions that the knees, toes, and fingers are pointing. Feelings of pain or discomfort in these areas may be relieved by pulling back from the pose a little or trying to readjust into a comfortable position. Using proper movements allows for the correct utilization of the intended muscles which additionally leads to burning more calories.

A couple performs acro yoga

Bone Stacking

Bone stacking is a way of arranging two bodies, a base, and a flyer in a yoga pose that stacks their bones. Bone stacking uses limbs being stacked perfectly on top of each other in order to get a strong, reliable foundation. Using bone stacking allows performers to use fewer muscles and strength. This means they can hold the pose longer or move into it deeper.


Counterbalancing involves adjusting bodies and distributing weight in a way that balances them, even in peculiar positions. The performers will lean away from each other, counteracting the pull that’s encouraging the couple to fall. Directing the weight in opposite directions allows the base and flyer to balance out and display some beautiful mannerisms and poses.

Burning Calories with Acro Yoga

All forms of physical activity burn calories. Everything from walking to HIIT training burns calories. As you move your muscles, you use energy. This energy is measured as calories. The more energy you use, the more calories you burn. The number of calories burned depends on age, temperature, genetics, and more. However, it is suggested that an hour of acro yoga could burn about 175 calories.

Lunar versus Solar

Different yoga poses can be classified as lunar or solar, depending on their movement. In the lunar practice of acro yoga, more Thai massage techniques are employed. The base supports the flyer’s weight as they give up control to the base. The base then twists, massages, and moves them to achieve maximum stretch and relaxation.

During solar practice, the flyer and the base both move dynamically. This practice is playful and energizing. Solar practice draws on fun and interesting movements you may not have even seen before.

A couple performs acro yoga on rocks near the ocean

How to Get Started

Getting started with acro yoga is invigorating! Once you’ve warmed up and connected with your partner, it’s time to try some common beginner acro yoga poses.

  1. Plank on Plank – This pose starts with the base in a push-up position. Their palms are flat on the floor and they’re holding themselves up with their toes. Their feet should be strong and stable. The flyer will grab the ankles of the base and post up in a push-up position, placing their toes on the back of the base's shoulders.

  2. Plank Press – The plank press is a beginner movement that requires stability and core strength. The base will lay in an L-base with their backs on the ground. The base should focus on four points of contact between their body and the ground: each shoulder and each hip should stay flat on the ground. The base will place their feet in a slant, parallel to the flyer’s hip bones. The base's heels should be on the top of the flyer's thighs. The flyer will stand tall with their core strength and their arms in the shape of a T. The base will grab the hands of the flyer, adjust their feet, and press the flyer into the air. Now, the flyer can let go and keep their arms straight out at the sides. Make sure the flyer's head, chin, and chest are lifted. The base should keep their legs straight and strong. Both should have their cores engaged.

  3. Front Plank – The front plank is similar to the plank press, except the front plank requires the flyer to reach down and hold hands with the base instead of having their arms out to their sides in a T pose. The base, instead of having their arms flat on the ground, will reach up and hold hands with the flyer, creating another base of support besides the base’s feet on the flyer’s hips.

  4. Fish on a Rock – This pose is a great beginner movement and warm-up. The base lays in child’s pose. With their knees tucked under them and torso folded over, it makes the base look like a “rock”. The flyer then lays over the base on their back. Their hands should reach over their head and down to the hands of the base. The base holds the hands of the flyer and deepens the stretch. This makes the flyer look like a fish laying over a rock.

  5. Down Dog L-Shape – This pose is a great way to loosen and strengthen the lower back. The base will lean forward into downward dog. The flyer will stand over the base with their feet on either side of the base’s hands. One foot at a time, the flyer will place a foot on the lower back of the base. The flyer will straighten their legs to look like an upside-down L.

A couple performs indoor acro yoga positions


Acro yoga is a great way to combine dance, acrobatics, Thai massage, and yoga. It is a fun way to strengthen your muscles, improve posture, increase circulation, improve mood, and burn calories. Acro yoga can make you feel strong, help you connect with others on a deeper level, and increase your self-confidence as you mold and bend in a beautiful way. Acro yoga is empowering and sure to put a smile on your face! This form of yoga brings out your inner child while preparing you for your best future self.

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