Week 5: AcroYoga with London Acro Ladies at Indaba Yoga

I was very excited about my first foray into AcroYoga. I’ve followed a couple of Venice beach acros on insta for a while and had always thought it was something reserved for proper seasoned yogis until recently. I’ve been reading Tim Ferriss’s latest tome, Tools of Titans, and in it he talks about using AcroYoga as a restorative, challenging and fun practice; this it gave me the push to look into it.

Turns out everything is easily accessible in London. A quick google later, I was booked in for a Saturday evening class at Indaba Yoga in Marylebone.

What They Say:

Learn to trust and let go in our playful AcroYoga class, where the wisdom of yoga, the dynamic power of acrobatics and the loving kindness of the healing arts are blended into one.

My Experience:

Entering the three story studio felt like a happy haven away from the dark, drizzly night outside. I was enthusiastically welcomed by the friendly man on reception and there were lots of people coming and going, all smiles and light laughter. This didn’t feel at all like a scary, serious yoga studio. There was a soft scent of incense and a library of books and shopping opportunities to browse while sipping a free herbal tea. Indaba Yoga offers a wide range of classes, something for everyone.

On entering the studio, the two coaches, Sylvia and Katie, were practising an acro flow and having a right giggle. They clearly love what they do and are constantly learning/trying new moves. They were playing around on yoga wheels too – y’know, balancing on one leg on a wheel while bringing the other leg over your head – as you do. I was awestruck.

These two – @londonacroladies on insta, look them up – were truly inspirational and reminded me of a twinkling woodland fairy and a girl from a Rossetti painting.

In AcroYoga, you are either a flier or a base. In this beginners class we paired up and got to try both. I’d thought I would be a flier, but actually really enjoyed being a base. At each fitness class I go to I realise more and more that I’m on the stockier side of average… this is weird for me as, growing up, I was always the petite girl. Anyway, there’s something really grounding and satisfying about balancing someone upside-down on your feet.

There were 14 people in the class (4 guys, 10 girls). We spent half an hour warming up before moving on to an hour of pose practice. The warm ups were partner based, leaning and back bending into each other, opening up the shoulders and spine. There were some partner burpees too, gotta love a burpee!

Once we moved onto the poses, each one was demo-ed, with a really clear breakdown of what both the base and flier should be doing. We then practiced in our pairs, moving into bigger groups when we moved on to slightly trickier/scarier poses that required spotting. At no point did I feel unsafe and the coaches did a great job of moving around the room, giving clear cues to get the poses working. You could look at videos online and just give it a go at home, but the coaches eyes made it really easy to fix positions – e.g. a cue to “point your toes” could mean the difference between nailing a pose and collapsing! Every pose could be scaled so people could go as far as they wanted, depending on their experience and strength.

This wasn’t what I’d call a workout (although done at a higher level it most certainly would be), it was more about learning and practise. It took a lot of focus on positioning, provided a great sense of body awareness and was really quite therapeutic; my back and shoulders felt wonderful afterwards, and I came away feel poised and strong.

If you don’t go with a partner, you have to be happy getting up close and personal with strangers. Like the game where you fall backwards into someones arms, you have to really trust your partner and communicate throughout, focusing on the balance and forces between your two bodies. When someone is balancing upside down on your feet you have a real sense of responsibility not to drop them on their head with a small mis-move of the toes. Ipso facto, balancing on someone’s hands directly above their face you don’t want to go plummeting into them and knock their teeth out! Communication is key! Although some of the moves were challenging, we were also shown how to bail and make sure we we safe.

At the end of class, Sylvia and Katie showed us how the poses we’d learnt could be put together into a sequence. It was mesmerising to watch – grace and strength fluidly combined.

Everyone was very friendly and there were a mix of total newbies like me, regular acros, fashion model types and a few couples.

In Summary

The word that springs to mind when describing this class is ‘playful’. The coaches were wonderful, and it reminded me of playing airplane with my sisters as kids! The sense of satisfaction from nailing even a simple pose was enormous. If South West Trains ever get round to finishing the engineering works which knock out the main line into London every weekend, I’ll be there every Saturday night.

Where: Indaba Yoga, Marylebone

Cost: Walk in class £18 or £35 for an unlimited 10 day intro pass. Class packs cost £11-£14. They also offer a karma yoga programme, where you can help around the studio in exchange for classes – I love that!

How to book: www.indabayoga.com / mindbody app

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