6 poses to put you in touch with the physical and introspective sides of acrobatic asana.
Though this series is safe and doable, let intuition and judgment be your guide. Who plays base and who plays flyer is generally determined by size, with the larger person taking the base position. The spotter, not pictured in our photos, can be any size. The spotter should take a stable stance, like Goddess Pose, standing next to the flyer and the base, and keeping his or her eyes on and hands near the flyer’s hips, ready to catch her if she falls. Nemer suggests settling into each pose for three breaths.
Pose 1 helps both the base and flyer build core strength and learn how to support a partner.
BASE Take Plank Pose, with your hands shoulder-width apart, arms straight and vertical, core engaged.
FLYER Facing your base’s feet, place your hands on his ankles. Press down with straight arms, lift the foot closest to your base, and place your ankle on his more distant shoulder. Point toes and press into the top of that foot. Engage your leg and core muscles. Place your second foot on your base’s near shoulder.
ALIGNMENT TIPFlyer: Stack your shoulders directly over your base’s ankles for stability.
Poses 2a and 2b help build trust and teach the base to support the flyer’s weight.
BASE Lie down on your back. Set your feet parallel and hip-width, with knees bent, onto your flyer’s hips.
FLYER Stand at your base’s feet, with your arms in a T, body firm and straight, and abdominals engaged.
BASE Bend your knees more, receiving your flyer’s weight slowly. Lower her a few inches, and then extend her back to standing.
FLYER Keep your feet on the ground. Relax, and trust your weight to your base.
ALIGNMENT TIPBASE: For optimal support, place the arches of your feet against your flyer’s hip points before liftoff.
Poses 3a and 3b teach the base to stay steady when the flyer lifts off.
BASE Stay on your back, stacking your feet over your hips.
FLYER Cross your forearms and stack them onto the base’s feet. You can make eye contact with your base to establish trust.
ALIGNMENT TIP BASE: If your legs are too long compared with your flyer’s height, bend knees as necessary.
FLYER Press your folded arms into your base’s feet and lift your legs off the ground.
BASE Straighten your legs into a 90-degree or L shape, stacking your feet over your hips for stability.
ALIGNMENT TIPBASE: If your legs are tight and you can’t straighten them, try placing a folded blanket under your pelvis. Keep your knees slightly bent, with your heels directly over your hips.
This pose teaches balance, laying the foundation for more-advanced poses.
Start in Plank Press (see pose 2b).
FLYER Reach forward and clasp your base’s hands. Keep your arms straight, creating a straight line from your shoulders to your base’s. Press into the ground with your feet to lift off.
BASE Keep your arms straight as your flyer lifts off. Receive your flyer with bent legs, and then slowly straighten your legs, stacking feet over hips.
FLYER Once airborne, keep your core engaged. Point your toes and straighten your legs.
ALIGNMENT TIPSPOTTER: Cue the base and flyer to stack their arm bones vertically, which will help keep the pose stable.
Front Bird hones balance, teaching the flyer to feel comfortable letting go of the base’s hands.
BASE From a stable Front Plank, press your toes into your flyer’s lower belly. This helps her lift her chest.
FLYER If you feel stable, let go of your base’s hands and reach your arms back like bird’s wings.
ALIGNMENT TIPBASE: Keep your hands up and ready in case your flyer tips forward or wants to come down.
Our peak pose, Bow, allows the flyer to play with a more advanced asana midair.
FLYER Once you feel stable in Front Bird, slowly bend your knees and grasp your feet. Keep your core engaged, legs strong, and chest lifted, breathing slowly and deeply, trusting your base to support you.
BASE Point your toes even more to help lift the flyer’s chest.
ALIGNMENT TIPFLYER: Request “more point” or “more flex” in your base’s toes to find a stable position.
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