x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Acro Yoga is more than just a balancing act

A blend of acrobatics and traditional poses, Acro Yoga is coming to Abu Dhabi with free classes every Friday morning in Khalifa Park.

Kate Langreth, top, and Vanessa O'Malley strike a pose in Abu Dhabi. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National
Kate Langreth, top, and Vanessa O'Malley strike a pose in Abu Dhabi. Fatima Al Marzooqi / The National

Acro Yoga is a blend of acrobatics and traditional yoga which has proved popular in Dubai. Now it’s coming to Abu Dhabi, in the shape of free classes every Friday morning in Khalifa Park.

What is it?

Kate Langreth, a Canadian schoolteacher who has been in the UAE for the past three years, says the partner practice is believed to have originated in the US. It blends yoga, Thai massage and acrobatics, which cultivates trust, connection and playfulness.

“It is more than just yoga,” says Langreth. “It is about building a community, caring, sharing and having fun. We want people to reconnect with nature because when we spend so much time in the workplace, we forget to embrace the beautiful outdoors and the parks that are available here.”

Langreth has been practising yoga for the past eight years under the guidance of trained Acro Yoga instructors including Stanley Norris, the Canadian yoga teacher behind Open Air Yoga, which also offers Acro Yoga in Dubai.

What to expect

First, Langreth and her partner Vanessa O’Malley will help pair the group off and lead the duos through a series of yoga poses (asanas) designed to warm up the body and help partners build trust. Then each member of the group will try the three main positions in Acro Yoga: the base, the flyer and the spotter.

The person forming the base is usually lying on the ground, with their arms and legs free to be “bone-stacked” to provide maximum stability and support for the flyer – the one who is elevated off the ground by the base through the feet, belly and hips, freeing the flyer to move into a series of positions. The exercises start off slowly and attendees are taught the basics first until trust and efficient acrobatic techniques are built through coaching and teamwork.

“It may sound scary but it’s very enjoyable,” assures Langreth.

The benefits

The focus is on body awareness, core-based exercises and working various muscles one would never have even expected, says Langreth.

“It’s a very welcoming practice with a playful environment,” she says. “The community is open-minded and it allows you to meet so many people you may otherwise not have crossed paths with.

“We also incorporate the traditional yoga postures so it’s a different type of fitness that works with various muscles. Yoga can be very spiritual with a different mindset. It’s therapeutic.”

Availability in the UAE

In Abu Dhabi and Dubai, classes are every Friday from 10am to 11.30am. This week’s Dubai class is held in Safa Park; in Abu Dhabi, it’s in Khalifa Park this week. “Although the practice is new here, interest is really growing fast,” says Langreth.

The classes are operated on a donation basis, with Dh50 suggested; all proceeds go to a variety of charities. Sessions will continue for another month then pause during the summer and resume by early October. All levels are welcome. For more information check -Facebook for Open Air Yoga in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, or Acro Yoga Dubai.

melshoush@thenational.ae