Athens and Ohio University are home to many different types of yoga for people to try, but one practice people may not have heard of is acroyoga, hosted by the OU Acro-Nauts.
The Acro-Nauts meet weekly to practice poses requiring multiple participants, utilizing people as bases and other people as flyers who are lifted during the poses.
Acroyoga is about a lot of stretching and creating cool poses, but most importantly it’s about trust and communication with the people they work with in the poses.
Madison Clay, a sophomore studying English, is the president of the club, and believes everyone should try acroyoga.
“Because of what we do, we build friendships so fast,” Clay said. “And that’s what I like — just the bonding of it. And I like doing stupid tricks too.”
The club was started two years ago by the current vice president, Naomi Campbell, and her old roommate. They wanted to create a club that focused on yoga, but put their own distinct spin on it by bringing in the acroyoga focus.
“It’s partner yoga, and a lot of aerial work, but relaxing in the way that yoga is,” Campbell, a senior studying french education, said. “But it also requires a bunch of communication, tons of trust and a lot of hard work.”
The Acro-Nauts refer to their practice as “extreme yoga, with beginner acro.” They welcome anyone, and no physical prerequisites are needed, but they do emphasize the importance of being confident in oneself, due to the huge amounts of trust necessary to put into oneself and other people in the club. They’re looking for members who are ready to learn and excited to be a part of the club.
The group meets once a week on Sundays at 5 p.m. When the weather permits, they practice their tricks and poses on OU’s College Green, but once the weather begins to get colder they move into Ping Recreation Center. The meetings last for about two hours, and though it’s not mandatory that members stay the entire time, the Acro-Nauts leadership encourages it.
The first hour of the meetings are dedicated to stretching, working on flexibility and practicing the poses and tricks, and the second hour is dedicated to members pitching new pose ideas by showing photos or videos, which they call “open jam.”
Their three most popular poses are bird, candlestick and straddle throne.
Bird involves the base creating an L-shape, lying on the ground with their legs in the air, and their feet supporting the flyer’s stomach while the flyer planks in midair.
Candlestick is where the base lies on their back with their knees up and feet flat on the floor. The base’s hands hold the flyer’s shorts, and the flyer’s hands grip the base’s thighs and they go straight up in the air.
Finally, straddle throne has the base sitting in an L-position with their feet on the flyer’s thighs, and the flyer’s legs are wrapped around the base’s legs in a straddle position, where it looks like the flyer is sitting on a throne.
Though anyone can come to the meetings, if people begin to regularly attend they are asked to pay the yearly $5 dues. The Acro-Nauts require little supplies, but member dues and club fundraisers go toward raising money to attend one of the many acroyoga festivals around the country.
Last year, the Acro-Nauts started a talent show at the end of spring semester, where people auditioned for an hour-long showcase. The showcase featured singers, magicians, dancers and even a pianist, but was finished by an exhibition performance of a choreographed acroyoga routine.
The Acro-Nauts are trying to make the talent show an annual event, and charge $3 admission as another form of fundraising.
The group likes to meet outside of the club hours as well, with game nights, movie nights, going out to dinner and they even traveled to Columbus last spring to train with James Heugh from Cirque Du Soleil.
“I really enjoy the entire atmosphere of the club,” Jake Lundgren, a sophomore studying integrated social studies, said. “I genuinely have a great time hanging out with all these people which is great. It’s also a great way to get some exercise.”
More than just the exercise and a fun party trick, acroyoga is a way for Clay and Campbell to work on their emotional skills with confidence and trust, but also build lasting bonds and friendships.
“Acro is kind of my tribe, in a way, because it attracts the type of people that I like to hang around,” Campbell said. “It’s a really nice way to decompress and get out that creativity every single week. Being in my senior year and feeling all of the nostalgia of leaving everything behind, it’s nice to know I’m leaving something really cool behind.”