I Love/Hate AcroYoga

My cartwheel
My cartwheel

On Friday, a friend invited me to AcroYoga (and then bailed), so I was thrown straight into the touchy-feely hodgepodge that is this thing. I’ve been to three or four classes, and I’m fine trusting a stranger to suspend me upside down with only their feet… but I can’t deal with the class openings. You sit in a circle and answer a question like “If you were an animal, what animal would you be?” or all clasp shoulders and sway side-to-side.

I want to like Acro, I really do, but my icy German heritage finds the whole circle-of-backrubs a little uncomfortable. Save those for the rave, ja?

I’m kidding, I know that the area just outside our comfort zone offers the greatest opportunity for growth (I will fully admit that’s a Jennifer Aniston quote) but some of the Acro activities are just way outside my comfort zone.

What I love: Getting help in handstands, doing cartwheels, being upside down, Thai massage

What I hate: Being upside down, cocktail-party chatter during class, being told to do jazz hands (no joke), group therapy questions

When I was in college, and taking a lot of dance classes, and running around in spandex all the time (for the crew team!) it was not a big deal to do movement exercises with a partner. A fellow rower was in my modern dance class, and we were always the first ones ready to go. But now, as a hard-ass New Yorker, my mannerisms are much more strict, and it’s not so fun to leave my comfort zone.

We cartwheeled into this (but facing forward)
We cartwheeled into this (but facing forward, holding hands)

Once we were past the first 20 minutes of introductions and warm-ups, however, I had a great time. We learned how to do Handstand facing the wall, which is pretty scary. We had a partner help walk us in, and cartwheel out. Then, we practiced cartwheels in the middle of the room. This all led up to cartwheeling onto our partner.

I don’t think I’ve ever done a real cartwheel; I chicken out halfway through and end crouching. (Crouchwheel!) I’m also known to yelp “No! No! No! Put me down!” when a teacher “helps” me into Handstand. But I can do a Handstand alone in the park. So when they showed us the demo, I was like “No way. I’ll watch.” Those studio floors are rock hard. But a small part of me was like “I can do that.” So I tried it, and got it on the second try. (Falling, and seeing how that’s an exercise in itself, is part of the class.)

We ended with some Thai Yoga Massage (called “Lazy Man’s Yoga”, you pull your partner into various reclined yoga poses) and a deep relaxation.

If there were a slightly more chill version of Acro, I would be back in a second. It definitely pushes the boundaries of my composure, and introduces a world of new balances. But I don’t get the feeling of meditation-in-movement that I get from my vinyasa or hatha classes, although I think that’s also cause the classes are so social. If you like a class that’s friendly and playful, definitely give it a try… there’s nothing else like it.

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