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Season 1 - Episode 9

Acro Yoga: Fly Your Friend

20 min - Practice
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Scott, with the help of Christina, gives us a taste of Acro Yoga, sharing step-by-step instructions on how to fly your friend.
What You'll Need: Partner, Mat

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May 07, 2015
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Welcome back. Welcome back to partner yoga. My name is Scott and this is Christina. And for this session we're gonna give you a taste, a taste of Acre yoga. Acre yoga is where you commonly work with a partner, where one person is a base, supporting someone who's then the flyer. And we're gonna show you just the most basic poses along along the way here, where you don't necessarily need anyone to spot you. We'll show you ones that are pretty safe and you can do with different sciences of individuals. We'll show you some different variations on that. And basically what you're doing is have an opportunity to, you could say fly your friend, to let your person that you're working with get a different experience to gravity, to be supported by your structure that you create and they can just let go and melt into that support. And so we'll begin. So the flyer can help the base come down to the earth. So we hold hands, she sets herself with her legs to feel nice and firm. I can lean back away from her, start to bend my knees and she can help me ease down to the earth. I come all the way onto my back. The first sequence is that we're gonna do, Christina's gonna just be balancing facing forward, front flying on my feet. A key thing to this is where the placement of the feet is on the upper leg. And she can help me to guide the foot right below the hip bone and right at the top of the thigh, right where you hinge when you take a forward fold. It's something that as you work with a partner, you'll be able to really quickly find what's the most comfortable position. And if you come into the pose and it doesn't feel comfortable the first time, then come back out, readjust, find the spot that feels really comfortable, such that you can just melt into that support without any discomfort. See here, she's gonna fold over my legs once they become straight. To help that, she starts hinging at her hips and will hold hands. Her fingers are forward, my hands are out to the side and that's just to help and encourage her to come forward over me. I let her lean into me and then straighten my legs to lift her body off the earth and I gently bring her hands toward the floor. My toes are turned out, my heels are in, I've made a platform for the top of her legs. And one of the things she's doing here is letting her legs become heavy, letting her torso hang, her feet hang toward the floor, totally giving in to the support that I've created for her. You can spend a little bit of time here massaging the back of the shoulders, encouraging a length of the torso, holding the side of the ribs, and drawing them down toward the floor. It's an opportunity to give a little massage, even the upper shoulders, the back of the neck. You can spend a wonderful time here. It's a great way to release, especially if you've spent a large part of your day on your feet. It's wonderful for the person that's flying. And here to give even a greater stretch to the torso and the length of the spine, I'm going to take my hands to the outside of her elbows, lift her elbows up, and she'll bring her fingers together. She can either put the palms together or interlace the fingers. I hold right on the forearms and I start to lengthen her over my head. Her arms come all the way straight, my arms become all the way straight. She's still heavy into my support. I lengthen my arms over my head and press my feet a little bit away. That gives her a nice long support here. From the next pose, I can slide my hands a little bit further down, so more to the upper arm below the elbow. She can bend her elbows, bring her hands to the back of her head, and then she can, keeping the feet heavy to the floor, bend the knees and bring the soles of the feet together. In yoga, we call this baddha konasana shape. And it's not about lifting the feet up high or lifting the knees. You still stay heavy to gravity. It just gives you a different contact point and a way of moving. And again, my hands on her elbows gives her a wonderful shoulder opener here as she softens her heart toward the floor. From this position, it's possible to give a little bit of a twist to your partner. It's very easy and you don't have to go very far to feel a wonderful twist in the spine and low back. So keeping my right hand and my left foot where it is, I bend my right knee just slightly and I bend my left elbow. And that twists her torso in a certain way. One hip lowers more than the other, one shoulder lifts higher than the other. Let's bend a few breaths here and she just softens into that twist. And then to change sides, I'll come back to center, both legs straight, both arms straight. And then I'll bend my left knee just a little bit, a couple inches, and bend my right elbow. And she's supported in a wonderful twist the other direction. And take a few more breaths here. And then I'll straighten my legs, straighten my arms. Christina then will straighten her legs again. I'll start to lower her torso back toward my legs and she can release her hands back to the earth. Take a few more moments here just hanging into gravity, just letting the whole spine get long over the support of the feet. And then to help your partner back to the floor, I'm going to reach back for the hands. Again, my fingers turn out, her fingers turn forward. I'll bend my knees, give a little pressure with the hands to help her lift her torso back up as she comes back up to standing. And then we'll do that for each other so she can help me back up to standing. I get my feet to the floor, she helps me all the way back up. We'll do see her go to the other side. And I'll lower her down to the floor. Come a little bit closer to me, there you go. Now you'll see how this works with different heights. Now when I do this supported by her, when she's the bass and I'm the flyer, my torso is long so that my forehead might actually even come all the way down to her belly. Not a problem, not a bad thing at all. I can tuck my chin in and still feel the support of her feet and the release of gravity into the support that she created. So I step up to her. A nice little calibration too is to step up so close that she would be able to touch my toes, that lets her know that I'm close enough such that I'm not having to move and fall into her. I can just pretty much hinge at my hips to come into this pose. Again, we place the feet, the toes turned out, heels in, right at the top of the thighs, right below the the bones of the hip bones in the front. I start to lean forward. The hands just help you to feel support on the way down. It's just to help you come into the pose, but ultimately you could do this without hands and the hands just easily come down to the floor. I lean into her, come up over her legs and she goes all the way to straight legs and that lifts me up and I let my head hang. She goes all the way straight legs. So my hands touch the earth and one thing that's key here is the base really is in control here for these poses. With my hands on the floor, I'm not trying to create balance. I'm not trying to push one way or the other. I really trust and let go to the base that's helping me in this pose. We can try some of the other poses here too. So bringing her hands to the back of my arms to start to lift my arms over her head and we go slow and I really let the base create the shape. For the most part I'm just surrendering to the shape that she's helping to create here. And then maybe the elbows bent to the back of the head. Wonderful shoulder stretch here. I'll bend my knees, bring the soles of my feet together and she can do a little twist, bending one knee in the opposite arm and going to the other side. Coming back to center, I'll straighten my legs back out, let my arms release. She can come back to my hands, bending her knees is helping me right come back up to standing. Awesome and I'll help her back up to standing. So easy poses. You can do that with people of different different sizes. If you in these poses you're pretty low. So even if you tip a little bit to one side and fall to the floor, you'll get a feeling of falling again into a puddle of grace and you can laugh and come right back into it. We spent just a few breaths in each of the poses. I invite you to even stay longer, especially in that first one where you're folding over the feet. Stay there for minutes, it feels wonderful.

It's a wonderful counter to gravity and a release for the spine, a really relaxing pose for each other. So I'm going to show a couple more poses to do. This time again I'll be the bass and Christina will be the flyer. She helps me down to the earth. For this one we refer to his back flying. I'm gonna have my feet on Christina's back. So she'll turn away from me, she'll still again be come up close enough to me that I can feel where her heels are. So come a little bit closer. There you go. I know how close she is. For this one the soles of my feet are going to be right around the sacrum. So right at above slightly above the buttocks and separated a little bit to the side of the hips. My feet are parallel and I've created a plat for her for her to lay back onto. For this one she's going to lean back and basically start to create a back bend shape. To help her go slowly she can put her hands on the front of my ankles like she's showing. That gives her a little bit more feeling of control. I bend my knees, my hands reach up for her shoulders right away. I take her shoulders, I feel her weight come over my legs and then I can straighten my legs and lift her legs off the earth. And so we have four points of support. My feet on her low back, on her back of her sacrum and hands on her shoulders. And she's getting a wonderful release to gravity in the other direction, opening up the front of her body. This is a sweet pose to stay for a while, opening the heart, releasing the legs. But she can also get a little bit creative here. She can bend her knees more, kick her feet back toward her head and reach for the top of her feet and create a bow pose, a Dhanurasana shape. As I keep my legs more vertical too, the bone stacked vertical to the earth, it's not much weight for me at all. I can hold the entirety of her weight without any effort at all. And then to come out of it, she releases her feet, goes back to holding the front of my ankles. I'll keep my hands on her shoulders until I lower her enough, her feet find the floor, and then I push a little bit to help her come back up to standing all the way tall. We'll show one more of a back flying shape. This is turned around now a different direction. Christina will come around toward my head. She will put her feet on either side of my head. I'll hold the ankles, hold the back of the ankles, then I'm gonna place my feet kind of up by her shoulder blades in her upper back. As you practice this one, the flyer can help position the feet where it might feel good, either a little higher up the spine or lower on the spine. It's something that you can try multiple times and get a different release, a different experience, depending on where you put the feet. Again, my feet are parallel. They're not on the spine, but they're on either side by the shoulder blades. She leans onto that. I bend my knees to receive her. She gets her shoulders all the way onto my back. Here, then I can start to lift her feet. She's just on my hands and feet. My legs start to straighten. My arms straighten. Again, once I go all the way to straight legs and straight arms, it doesn't feel like I'm holding much weight at all. My bones are stacked all the way into supporting myself into the stability of the earth. Then here, I'm lengthening two directions. My feet push a little bit away from me. My arms pull over my head and she can just relax into that support. You can create a little bit of a different shape of the backbend, depending on what I do with my feet. If I push through my toes a little bit, she gets a little deeper backbend in the upper and the lower back. If I let my heels lead the way, it decreases that and allows for more of a length to the spine. You can communicate with your partner whether you want more or less, a little deeper backbend, or to have the feet placed in a slightly different spot when you come back into the pose. To come out of this, we'll come out of this the same way we came in. So I'll start to bend my knees and I bring her feet all the way back to the floor, either side of my ears. Keep my hands on her ankles just long enough to help her back up to standing. And then she comes up. Good opportunity to share some laughter there. And then here, those are really the flying poses that we're going to show for this segment of the class today. One thing that's really wonderful for the base, if you've been supporting someone's weight for a while, the flyer can kind of reciprocate to give love back to the base, leg love, we like to call it nakra yoga. So for the effort and the work that you did in supporting through the legs, then you get an opportunity to do a little massage, a little bit of Thai massage to help the base recover from that effort. So one place to start is I'll bend my knees with my soles of my feet toward the ceiling. You might recognize this as a shape like happy baby pose and yoga.

Christina can bend her knees and place her knees right into the back of my legs and my hamstrings. That gives a nice release to the hamstring muscles that might become engaged from the work that you're doing. She pushes down a little bit for hands into my feet too. That gives a nice release to my low back. And then keeping the shape, Christina will lift her knees, come back onto her feet, and then holding my feet as if my feet were like a giant steering wheel. She can turn my hips one way and then the other, again helping me just to release my hips and low back and it feels really sweet. And then here she can guide my legs all the way straight, lifting them up, providing a little bit of massage to the feet. Feels wonderful. She can hold the back of the heels, give a little bit of length to the back of the legs and the hamstrings, and then even draw the legs away at a slight angle. Just that pulling also gets into the low back, the whole length of the spine. She can turn the legs in and out, and it feels all the way up into the hips. It feels really good. And then from here, she can help to bring my feet all the way to the floor. She uses her foot as a little support for my leg, holding the back of my heel with her foot on one side and then the other, just to gently bring me all the way to the floor so it's no effort at all for me. She just releases me back down. So that'll finish the process or sequence of poses for each other. Christina can help me back up to seated and we'll come to seated facing one another. Those last two back flying that we did, you can try that with your partner now and then close with your partner to do the leg love, the time massage that we showed. If it feels comfortable, if it feels like there's a difference in size or difference in height that makes that difficult, maybe stay with the front flying and enjoy that with each other. Whatever you can do to help and support your partner and help them release maybe after a long day. These are sweet practices to do. So take this moment to, whether you are the base of the flyer, to show gratitude to your partner and all that you've shared through all these practices, all these practices of partner yoga. You can place your hand right above your partner's heart, acknowledging and giving thanks and honoring the process that of partner yoga and the work that you're sharing together. I thank my partner and I thank you all for joining us today. Namaste.

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