Express News Service
Under a canopy of trees, we noticed Saksham Kapoor (30) lying on a blue mat with his legs stretched upwards. In a matter of a few seconds, Kanika Suri (35) balanced her hips on Kapoor’s feet as she did a plank mid-air. Upasana Mathur, who was standing at a distance, was closely monitoring both Kapoor and Suri, ensuring neither was injured in the process of achieving the ‘Bird Pose’ — a beginner-friendly AcroYoga pose. On inquiring further, we were told that this is a regular sight in Lodhi Garden on a Sunday morning.
Kapoor, Suri, and Mathur are a few members of the Delhi AcroYoga Community (DAYC), an open forum for anyone to try or practice AcroYoga — a physical, yoga partner that combines principles and techniques of acrobatics, gymnastics, cheerleading, and circus arts. .
A matter of trust
Though a fairly recent practice, a few instances of AcroYoga have been a part of Tirumalai Krishnamacharya’s — often referred to as the father of modern Yoga — body of work. However, it was only in the late 1990s that practitioners began devising different styles that would later be termed as AcroYoga. Jason Nemer and Jenny Sauer-Klei founded a school for AcroYoga in 2003 and later codified the practice in 2006. Each AcroYoga pose involves three primary roles — the ‘base’ is the person in contact with the ground (Kapoor); the ‘flyer’ is the one elevated off the ground (Suri); and the ‘spotter’ or the one who protects the flyer from falling (Mathur). “The role of the spotter is extremely important. Often when people put photographs on Instagram, they crop the spotter, which creates the idea that it is a two-person job. But it isn’t, ”explains Arjun Verma, a member of the community from Noida, who is also an accredited AcroYoga teacher from AcroYoga International, France.
Since the practice involves three individuals, a sense of coordination is a must between them. Trust is, therefore, the foundation of AcroYoga. “The sport is all about trusting, about leaning on another individual. It’s like communicating with the other person, ”says Kapoor, who works as a full-time researcher. DAYC members make it a point to familiarize new members with the practice by keeping safety as a priority. Watching these performers trying different poses may make one gasp and wonder “How do they do this?”. The practitioners, however, claim that AcroYoga is fairly easy. “I have tried the AcroYoga poses with my mother who is 65. She does the basic poses so it is all about how open you are,” comments Verma (38).
Helping mind and body
From helping one improve concentration to calming the mind and building balance, the benefits of this practice are manifold. “It has helped me focus and concentrate,” claims Suri. “People may be able to lift 200kg in the gym but they can’t lift 50kg here. AcroYoga helps improve muscle coordination, ”adds Lovely Chanana, another DAYC member. The practice offers immense scope for experimentation and building one’s own expression. “In times of social media, we often forget what it is like to interact with other human beings in a personal setting. AcroYoga helps a diverse group of people develop a personal expression all while knowing each other and possibly creating something that is unique to them. , “says Kapoor. Given the ample number of poses one can try, Verma mentions that people with injuries or pregnant women can work their way around the practice to avail the benefits of AcroYoga. However, he also suggests exercising discretion in such cases.
Over the years, the DAYC community — it started about seven years ago — has been able to foster a healthy space through their open-for-all sessions. The smiling faces of the participants, eager to help one another, will not make an entrant feel excluded. Apart from practicing Yoga, the members make it a point to spend a few hours bonding — they sing together, indulge in potlucks, click photos, and help each other breach their limits by exposing one another to different practices — individuals try hula hooping, parkour , and slacklining in the vicinity.
Apart from being a fitness practice, AcroYoga is also a bonding activity that brings together individuals from various backgrounds. While Kapoor says that the community has a role in expanding his friend circle, Malviya Nagar-based Surbhi Pathak (32) feels that the place has helped evolve her Yoga practice. Despite it being a fairly new practice in Delhi, DAYC is slowly attracting more patrons in the city by making AcroYoga accessible and for fitness enthusiasts.
Reasons to try this unique Yoga practice
1. AcroYoga helps build trust. As a flyer, you surrender yourself to the base, and as a base, you take complete responsibility for the flyer.
2. It can help people deal with trust issues or insecurity.
3. The practice improves balance and increases mobility.
4. AcroYoga helps improve focus and concentration and calms the mind. It also helps relieve stress.
5. The practice boosts confidence and can build one’s self-worth.
ADAPT AND EVOLVE
AcroYoga is divided into solar and lunar influences. While the solar influence involves power moves and standing flows, the lunar influence has a therapeutic touch. One can adapt AcroYoga poses according to individual limitations. “AcroYoga has many possibilities; if you can’t perform one part in a pose, there are other ways to try it. Those with injuries, who feel that they can cause the body more harm by practicing a certain AcroYoga move, there are ways to modify the poses to make it easier, ”says Arjun Verma.