Acroyoga Cultivates Trust and Unity
Suspended in the air by just the feet of her childhood best friend, sophomore Jemeia Hope balances casually; her body models the act of sitting on a chair. Hands placed nonchalantly on her knees, she engages freely in conversation with the person she has trusted for a lifetime, Logan Black.
Since Black introduced Hope to a new practice known as AcroYoga over the summer, Hope has found herself in love with the sport, having no qualms or fears about hanging upside down by her shoulders.
Now, she hopes to engage other students at Ohio University in her newfound passion as she serves as president of the group called the Acronauts.
“I just want to share it with as many people as possible, first of all, because I feel like a lot of people are struggling to find their way to be active,” Hope says. “Everyone likes doing different things; some people like running, biking. But for some people, they don’t know what they like. So for them, this is so new and no one’s heard about it. So there might be some people out there who really love it.”
AcroYoga combines principles of both acrobatics and yoga into one. According to the official website for the practice, it seeks to improve the bond between others through movement, connection and play.
“The experience of taking flight with AcroYoga instantly dissolves fears and invites practitioners to tap into new and infinite possibilities of communication, trust, and union,”, the website states.
In Acronauts, the group focuses on basic movements for the most part. The first pose that they teach beginners is “the bird,” in which the base (person on bottom) places their feet on the pelvis of their flyer (person who will be on top). The base extends their hands outward to provide a platform for the flyer’s hands. The base will slowly bring their knees to their chest, and then forcefully push up to suspend their flyer in the air.
Focus and balance are key elements in holding the pose. The flyer must place all trust in the base, remaining rigid and centered. If trust is not achieved, the pose ultimately collapses.
“The basics aren’t challenging,” Hope says. “It’s only challenging when you doubt yourself, or your partner, but it’s pretty okay. “
From there, members can start to build on foundations and complete more advanced tricks, such as the superman, in which the flyer is suspended in bird position without holding onto the base. Or they can do seated throne, or straddled throne.
Unlike traditional yoga, AcroYoga focuses on communication and a connection with each other, not just oneself. It incorporates principles of empowerment, joy, compassion, trust and life-awareness.
“We really want to focus on the communication and trust in it, says treasurer Naomi Campbell. “Because between having a base and a flyer, the person on the ground, and the person in the air, there has to be a lot of communication so no one gets hurt. And then there’s trust to know that you have each other and you’re going to be safe.”
Both Hope and Campbell agree that the presence of trust alleviates anxiety about trying new moves.
Campbell says that this idea is a great fit for a lot of people in Athens.
“Athens has a lot of hippies and free spirits and yoga is all about opening your mind, especially when we have a lot of programs, like Better Bystanders, that are all about trust and making sure that other people have your back, and this (group) fits perfectly along that dialogue,” Campbell says.
The group meets on Sunday evenings, meeting on South Beach when it’s warm, and tentative locations in chilly weather. But wherever they are, Hope says it’s an open invitation for all to learn, grow or just have fun.
“Also I want to focus on helping people improve different parts of their life that they want to improve on: communication skills, trust issues, whether it be with themselves or other people,” Hope says. “And also just really getting them to be aware of their own bodies.”