Yoga is a great way to better understand your body, mind and breath — but if you really want to get to know your partner or friends better, acroyoga is the way to go. Acroyoga is a combination of acrobatics and yoga poses that two people can do together.
Two of the most Instagrammable acroyogis out there are Dana Arnold (@IvyFrequency) and Nicholas Coolridge (@ModernTarzan). These fun-loving yogis capture breathtaking photos while traveling across the United States to teach private lessons and workshops.
Video of the Day
As the saying goes, couples who play together stay together, and these acroyogis seem to know both the secret to couples yoga poses as well as the secret to a thriving relationship. So grab your partner and give these 10 yoga poses for two a try.
1. Back-to-Back Squat
Coolridge and Arnold find that partner yoga helps form connection and enhance communication in a fun and interactive way. "Acroyoga breaks people out of their bubbles; it brings out another side of them," says Coolridge.
The back-to-back squat is an excellent pose to start off with for both body strength and communication. "It's a good warm-up and really works the quads," says Arnold.
- Stand back to back with your partner and press your backs together. Make sure your backs are connected from shoulders to tailbone, and place even pressure on upper and lower connection points.
- Push through your heels and into your back.
- Communicate with your partner when to lower down.
- Bend your knees to 90 degrees and hold.
- Continue to press into your back and heels as you come up.
Getting to a place that feels effortless is a journey that requires precision and practice. "Technique is important. When you hit the pose that is right, it is an effortless experience," Coolridge says.
Acroyoga targets the stabilizer muscles of the core, legs and shoulders, so don't be worried if you feel a bit shaky and clumsy at first. (Arnold and Coolridge recommend having a third person present as a spotter to assist and ensure safety.)
- Base (person on the ground): Lie on your back with arms by your side.
- Flyer (person in the air): Stand with your toes lined up with the base's fingertips.
- Base: Line your toes up with the bellybutton of the flyer and prepare for lift-off.
- Flyer: Come into a Superman position. Lift and squeeze your legs together. Lift your chest and extend your arms back by your hips.
One benefit of partner yoga poses is that they can help you get a better stretch than you would on your own. Whale pose opens up the mid-spine of the flyer, helping him or her find thoracic spine extension and a deep stretch for the back, chest and shoulders.
- Base: Lie on your back with arms by your side.
- Flyer: Stand near the base's head, facing away. With the help of a spotter if needed, arch your back and begin to lean back to meet your partner's feet.
- Base: Connect your feet on the flyer's shoulder blades with your hands on his or her ankles before lifting the flyer off the ground.
- Flyer: Arch your back by lifting your hips and sending your arms overhead.
Take a seat on your partner's feet! Reap the benefits of activating and opening up your back from the previous two poses as you stack the spine and sit up tall and proud.
Both Coolridge and Arnold agree that chair pose is "fun and easy." It's a great introductory pose that's manageable for most couples.
- Base: Lie on your back with knees bent into your chest and feet flexed.
- Flyer: Stand by the base's head, facing away. Then sit on the base's feet.
- Base: Lifting mostly with the legs, guide the flyer upward. Place your hands under the soles of flyer's feet.
- Flyer: Try to hold a tight shape, with most of your weight centered over the base's feet.
Throne is one of those picture-perfect couples' poses that displays balance and poise. It may feel stable and controlled for the flyer, but the base must provide a strong support.
Arnold and Coolridge recommend elevating the hips two inches by placing a rolled up towel or mat under the sacrum.
- Once in chair, the base takes his or her arms away and brings hands to heart center or by the sides.
- Then the flyer wraps his or her lower legs around the base's leg on the inside.
- Sit up tall and keep your core engaged.
Lean on your partner and get up close and personal in this beautiful backbend. Backbends help to flex the spine, improve breathing and can help relieve stress, anxiety and tension.
- Base: Lie on your back with arms by your sides.
- Flyer: Stand facing away from your partner.
- Base: Connect your feet on the flyer's lower back. Lower the flyer down by bending your knees before straightening the legs to lift them up.
- Flyer: Reach back and grab the base's shins for stability.
- Base: Place your hands on the flyer's shoulders to ensure he or she is stable. Once he or she is comfortable in the pose, you can remove your hands.
- Flyer: Take any variation with your legs and arms that you feel comfortable with.
Fly high and flip your perspective in tripod. According to Arnold and Coolridge, not only does tripod make its practitioners look skillful, but it also comes with many health benefits.
Inversions help drain the lymphatic system, and positively impact the circulatory and endocrine system, according to Yoga Journal.
- Flyer: Stand on either side of the base's legs.
- Base: Cup your hands over the flyer's shoulders. Keep your arms straight the entire time.
- Flyer: Step onto the base's knees to get your hips stacked over your shoulders and invert. Keep your core engaged and remember to breathe.
8. Folded Leaf Stretch
"Some of the poses feel like a massage or rolling out with a foam roller," Arnold says. Acroyoga poses can help release unnecessary tension, improve flexibility and improve range of motion — not to mention, they feel great.
The folded leaf stretch provides a deep stretch of the shoulders and a release through the adductors (inner thighs) and groin of the flyer, while providing a calf stretch for the base.
- Flyer: From backfly, fold forward at the hips.
- Base: Place your hands on the flyer's elbows. Flex your feet to deepen the stretch for both flyer and base.
- Flyer: Breathe deeply and relax into the pose to allow your shoulders and hips to open up.
9. Standing on Shins
"This pose is a big leg burn for the base," Coolridge says. Despite the intense leg workout, it's relatively safe for both flyer and base. That being said, you may want to have a spotter stand close by just in case.
- Have the base lie on his or her back with legs bent at 90 degrees. Keep shins parallel to the ground.
- Have the flyer connect hands with the base.
- Step up on the base's shins one foot at a time.
- Find your balance. Keep the majority of your weight in the front of the foot.
10. Bird on Hands
This is like the famous move from Dirty Dancing, only acroyoga-style. It's also similar to bird (from #2 on this list), but more difficult, since the flyer balances on the base's hands. This move for two activates the back stabilizers for the flyer and the wrist and shoulder stabilizers of the base.
- Base: Place your hands on the hip bones of the flyer. Press your fingers into his or her lower belly.
- Flyer: Draw your chest forward. Squeeze your legs together and point your toes as you open your heart and come into a Superman position.
- Base: Stabilize through your core and shoulders. Balance the flyer with your whole arm. Keep your arms straight.