A Brief History of AcroYoga
The Origins & Roots of Acrobatic Yoga
Like a tree that grows many beautiful branches, acroyoga has blossomed into many different styles over the years. There may be many branches on each tree, but they all start from the same trunk. Acroyoga is no different, meaning that all the various styles that have taken shape, originate from one trunk. The acroyoga “trunk” is a combination of yoga and acrobatics. The blending of these two disciplines is where the practice of acroyoga began to take form. At its essence, acroyoga is a way to communicate with another individual using your body. It’s an agreement of trust, active participation, mutual support, and connection that is expressed through movement of the body.
Acroyoga is also a great way to connect with your local (and global!) community. It’s an opportunity to learn, play, laugh, and overcome fears with friends and strangers. Imagine each of those tree branches growing from the trunk of the tree. Each branch is unique and carries its own character. Acroyoga is the same way, with each branch representing a different style of movement. Within the realm of acro, you will find adagio, standing acro, L-basing, icarian pops, slackro, thai massage, and so on. Each of these are defined by their unique approach to training and technique. Today we’re discussing the history of acroyoga specifically, so let’s travel back down those branches and down the trunk of that tree to take a look at the roots of acroyoga.
The Roots Of AcroYoga
Trees have many branches, yes, but they have even more roots. Those roots support its structure and the framework that exists above ground. We will approach the history of acroyoga through the same lens. Below is a brief review of the major players involved in transforming the practice of acroyoga into what we know it as today.
- 1938 – Let’s start with one of the oldest videos of acroyoga…
This shows yoga teacher T. Krishnamacharya L-basing a child in some intense backbend stretches.
- 1985 – Now fast forward to the founding of AcroSage inversion therapy, created by Benjamin Marantz. This is a style of therapeutic transitions and inverted flying postures that utilizes both massage and L-basing technique.
- 1980’s – Contact Yoga was also born in the 1980’s, founded by Ken Nateshvar Scott. This style explores ways in which you can move beyond a solo yoga experience, to collaborate and connect with others. Contact Yoga also helped to shape the foundation of therapeutic partner yoga.
- 1999 – Then came Acroyoga Montreal (AYM) which was established in 1999, and fully realized in 2003. It’s creators Eugene Poku and Jessie Goldberg met through their love of dance and joined forces to share their passion with the world. Their style of acroyoga blends dance, yoga, and acrobatics, and counters that blend with restorative and yin yoga.
- 2003 – Finally we have AcroYoga International (AYI) which was created in 2003 by Jason Nemer and Jenny Sauer-Klein. Their passion for movement arts and background in gymnastics fueled the acroyoga fire, and helped to spread the practice all over the world. They were the first to codify the acroyoga practice, forging the way for a structured approach to training teachers in the discipline of acroyoga.
The Journey Continues…
Now that you understand the roots of acroyoga, you can begin to work your way up to the branches. Each concentration possesses its own story of creation, and constant evolution of change. It’s a continuous process of shared inspiration, refinement and expression that continues to evolve everyday. As you can see, there are many different roots supporting our acroyoga tree. For this I am grateful, because many roots mean a strong foundation. It’s because of this sturdy foundation that acroyoga has been allowed to thrive and take on so many forms. In the past 5 years, teacher trainings and intensive workshop offerings have exploded, and their continued organic growth is expected.
There are now thousands of acroyoga teachers all over the world. They’re ready and willing to teach you. Whether you’re looking for an introductory class or a 5 day intensive, there are many options awaiting you. Every new person that steps into the world of acroyoga brings the discipline increased opportunity for growth as a whole. The Slackrobats look at acro as a beautifully strong–but very young tree. As that tree continues to blossom, as will our journey of self discovery and compassionate connection with others. Each branch of the tree is a style of acro derived from endless hard work and dedication to safety. We are so very grateful for each and every person’s contribution to this beautiful modality.
Where will this journey take you?
This article was a loving collaboration
♥ between contributor Buddy Thomas and editor Lindsi Cagan. ♥