By Robert Evans: One thing you certainly will not be seeing at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London is Yoga. Although the Olympics Committee has been petitioned several times the jury is out as to whether or not yoga is really a sport – or a form of spiritual exercise – or both.
There is certainly no sense of competition in yoga – one thing which many argue is pivotal in an activity being classified as being a sport.
Yet many of the attributes necessary in many sports can be found in yoga.
As any activity evolves over time – and so has yoga.
This century has seem something different – and quite remarkable – happening in the world of yoga.
Seeing is believing. Prepare for your jaw to hit the floor.
If we avoid calling it a sport for the moment, acroyoga is a practice which brings together (as the name suggests) the essentials of yoga and acrobatics. As you can see from these incredible photographs, it demands a high level of physical fitness, not to mention mental acuity. One slip, one wavering though and it’s all over.
The third element is the healing arts. All three practices are thousands of years old and it all sounds terribly serious. Yet although the cultivation of trust between those practicing acroyoga is pivotal to its success it is also something which, by its nature, encourages playfulness – and it could be said that we are most at peace when at play.
You might at the moment be scratching your head and wondering whether this is some sort of elaborate prank on the part of World in Sport. You may not have heard of acroyoga for two simple reasons: firstly it receives virtually zero media coverage. Secondly, it is new – so new in fact that it was invented (if you can call it that) in the first years of this century.
In that time, however, acroyoga has devolved in to two different schools. The first, which is known as Acroyoga Montreal has been bringing acrobatics, yoga and dance together since 2001. The second, which removes the element of dance and brings in Thai massage, started in California only six years ago (2006).
The art of acroyoga involves three main roles. The first is that of the Base – and as the name suggests it is the person who has the greatest number of points of contact with the ground. This may involve arms and legs but often it is the entire back. The reason for this is it enables maximum stability to hold the person playing the second role.
That would be the Flyer. This person (generally the lighter of the two, either male or female but as you can see from the above, not necessarily!) is the one who gets lifted off the ground and moves around forming the diverse dynamic positions you can see here. As much as the base is all about stability, the flyer is all about balance.
There is a third, very important role in acroyoga and that is the Spotter. This person has the responsibility of carefully monitoring the base and the flyer and making sure that the flyer is safe at all times. It is also the responsibility of the spotter to make any suggestion for movement and balance of the pair.
Sometimes, two is company but three or more is a party. There is no real limit to the number of participants in an acroyoga session but of course, this involves more health and safety issues, so the number of spotters should increase with the number of acroyogis.
Let’s return to the original question – is this a sport? To people who practice yoga, there is no real need to answer this. Many would say that yoga and as an extension acroyoga is a way of life. Whether or not we will ever see either at the Olympics is an irrelevance to most people who practice.
For them, acroyoga is a connection between the body, mind and spirit. It is a healthy way of living as with it one can achieve a perfect balance between a fit body, a healthy mind and a clear spirit. And you can’t argue with that, now, can you?