Acrobatic Yoga: Magical partner play or tangled mess?

Does trusting someone to move you through the air or ‘fly’ you while balancing in yoga poses intrigue you or intimidate you?


We recently hosted a workshop to find out if we could create a day of magical partner play or would we all wind up a tangled mess?

The workshop was an introduction to partner yoga. In this particular case, partners were welcome, but it was NOT necessary to have a partner. We had two visiting groups, Acro Yoga Tour Costa Rica traveling from San Jose and Acrotans from the UK and had just arrived from an Acro Yoga conference in Portland, Oregon.  And it just so happened that these two groups were coming to Samara on the same day!

Could the Acrotans and Acro Yoga Tour, two groups from different parts of the world, that had never met before come together and create a beautiful workshop ‘on the fly’?

Acrobatic Yoga? Partner Yoga? What’s that?


We began with simple exercises to feel the presence of our partner, to connect, feel how we could move them and follow them.  This is a level of awareness and attention partners barely give on another day-to-day. Throughout the workshop we were in groups of 3 and sometimes 4, depending on the exercise and how many spotters were necessary. We all took turns, sometimes being the base, the flyer and sometimes one of the spotters.  You are then guided to ‘climb’ onto your partner or play like you may imagine a child climbing a jungle gym.


Supporting and being supported

While doing partner yoga, you cannot focus on anything else but your partner.  You must be ‘in’ the moment. Work, your phone, stresses do NOT matter in that moment.

Only supporting your partner and being supported.

This activity will not work one sided.

You both must be focused in the moment.

It’s incredibly fun.


The instructors were very hands on in demonstrating and supporting couples as we tried different lifts and holds.  Some people were partnered with people they just met and others married 10 years.  Everyone learned new things about their partners through this workshop.

Were you willing to trust?

Able to listen actively? Focused on supporting your partner?




Everyone discovered, together, they could do amazing things they never imagined.

Can you picture your partner enjoying a partner yoga class with you? Or would it be pulling teeth to get them there?

Many years ago, I eagerly attempted to introduce my husband to both yoga and dance (separately).  For sure I had images of the bonding and intimacy that would be enhanced between us…

I thought Glenn was onboard for basic intro to yoga classes that were starting up at our local gym. I had cautiously brought it up, encouraging what great exercise it would be for us together and that we could go for sushi afterwards… When the day actually came…

I remember sitting in our car in the parking lot of the health club offering yoga classes I’d already paid for, and my husband refused to leave the car. I could not for the life of me convince him to go inside the building directly infront of us. This equally shocked and crushed me.

My dreams of us bonding over yoga died in that parking lot…or so I thought.


My husband surprised me, he went from not wanting to take a class together to embracing hours of training as an instructor!?!

For sure this is the perfectionist in him.

He signed us both up for yoga teacher training without my knowledge. 280 hours, twice (that’s another story)

A few years later I attempted to get him to join me down the street from our house for free salsa lessons…similar situation…I could not get him in the building, and he later took salsa dancing lessons (while I was out of the country)

5 days a week with different instructors and ultimately went on to perform!!

So if you think you may have trouble getting your partner to join you for a workshop, you never know. They just might surprise you. This time I didn’t have to do any convincing of my husband and we hosted the workshop!!  We had some people that left their partners at home, so they could enjoy it themselves, some that came with friends, and one couple that found out about the workshop only an hour in advance and showed up eager to give it a try.


Partner connection could be instant magic, or it could be instantly stressful

As mind blowing as my husband’s turn around was, it still didn’t mean we had embraced the freedom of partner play. Much of the focus was on technique, but not so much on play and flow.  It takes effort and attention to incorporate partner play, day to day our lives are filled with distractions, it’s easy to distance ourselves from our partner and fall deeper into these distractions.

Taking time to connect or reconnect, can do wonders for rejuvenating your soul and your relationship.

I’ve always been fascinated by partner play, balance, trust, and heights.

As a child, my father would ride a unicycle and I would balance sitting on his shoulders. He took his unicycle everywhere in the back of his van and would bring it out when we had ‘Daddy spend time days’. We’d ride on sidewalks and through parks, sometimes in the road and sometimes on narrow beams.   I loved to balance. I loved being up above and looking out, I loved that it was a challenge that came to me naturally and yet surprised anyone who saw us.

These are some of my favorite memories with my Dad. As someone who was often consumed by work, these were focused together moments.  There is an incredible connection that comes with sharing the same balance.

Perhaps this early start inspired my fascination with watching partners, whether on the dance floor or the yoga mat.

If I have a strong lead, I’m a very good follower and I trust in a competent lead.

Is togetherness always harmony?

As I’m writing this, I wonder if it parallel’s life, and if perhaps being such a good follow has gotten me in trouble occasionally…

But those stories are for another day.

In terms of movement…dance and yoga, the union… it is so beautiful when two people come together in harmony, with trust, strength, and sensitivity. Throw in practice and commitment and magic happens!

Just being a strong lead doesn’t mean the dance will be a breeze…

We knew a fabulous dance instructor that occasionally danced at a local salsa night near our house. If he asked me to dance I always felt so lucky to have the opportunity to experience the dance.

Total Fan Girl style!

I knew it would likely involve lifts and be way beyond my level, but because I could follow and trust, I was open to having an awesome experience.

My husband and I watched across the dance floor as this experienced instructor asked one of our friends to dance.  Glenn commented that she was tough to dance with because she was hard to lead and would tense up and resist being led.  We watched as they danced. first time they had met, and we both watched as they struggled to trust and follow and as she resisted a lift, that threw him off and they both ended up like dominos on the floor. We couldn’t believe it!  They picked themselves up and she came over to our table to see if we had seen what had just happened.

‘Could we believe what he did? Dropping her, who did he think he was…?’

She returned to her table entirely disgusted.

Next he approaches us to see if we had seen.

‘He had NEVER fallen before, but had to in order to soften her fall, he couldn’t believe she was so rigid and wouldn’t follow.’

They were so appalled at one another, we thought they might never speak again…

And for quite some time, they did not.

However, they were in the same dance circle, so they couldn’t avoid one another forever…

And now they are married and beautiful dance partners.

Dance can create magic.

Watching skilled dancers, figure skaters or acrobats is mesmerizing. Their harmony with one another; I’ve always felt that partners look like they are meant to be together, like somehow, how they glide on the dance floor would represent their movement in life, forever.  A beautiful dance makes you forget time.

When I first experienced a skilled strong lead in dancing, it was magical.

An eternity can be experienced in a short dance or routine, long after the interaction has ended, you can remember how it made you feel.

Dancing or partner yoga will teach you so much about your partner…  Through this, I realized it is not only soulmates that can connect beautifully through dance or yoga.


What an amazing day of fun collaboration at The Relaxation Spot

We will continue what we learned in the workshop and continue to host more workshops at The Relaxation Spot. Our Mission is to be a spot for rejuvenation from injury and the stresses of life though massage, and to help couples connect and reconnect through partner play, partner yoga, couple’s massage lessons and dance.

I had so much fun at this recent workshop.  I especially enjoyed when I’d step back for a moment and appreciate everyone else enjoying themselves.

The giggling, triumphs of achieving a pose you’ve been trying for. The new friendships being built, others being strengthened…

I really enjoyed having fun with my husband. you won’t forget sharing this experience with someone working together on poses

Magical Partner Play or Tangled Mess? You decide 🙂

The workshop ended in a circle with lots of giggles, new friendships and even those watching on the sidelines were drawn in to participate in the fun. Some people experienced magical partner play, and others may have had a few tangled mess experiences, but everyone had a great time.

20161026_123551 Everyone felt a ‘good tired’ and headed for The Juice Truck with Kyle Mitri @ilovethejuicetruck to enjoy fresh juices and smoothies.  A perfect ending to a perfect day.


I just want to hit replay!

You can by sure my husband and I will be practicing.

Follow The Relaxation Spot on facebook for more details on upcoming workshops!!!!

Michaela and Florian photo credit