You may have heard of yoga, and hot yoga, and cold yoga, and baby goat yoga, but this new variant could help you fill that lifelong dream of running away to the circus. 

Acro yoga is a fun and immersive way to strengthen your body and connect with people in a strange but intimate new way. What’s even better — you can find it every Saturday morning at the Madison Circus Space.

Acro yoga or “acro” is a combination of yoga, acrobatics and sometimes dance. It an expression of strength and flexibility, and also challenges your communication and trust with two or more people. 

In a group, there are three roles. The base hoists the flyer and balances them through different aerial poses. The flyer is the one lifted in the air, and the spotter watches and assists to ensure safety.

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Deanna Schneider, founder of the MCS’s acro yoga club, got into acro yoga six years ago while recovering from an injury. She claims the playfulness and ease of the hobby are very appealing.

“Remember when you were little and you flew like an airplane on your parent’s feet? We do it in acro,” Schneider said. “It’s called the bird and it’s one of the first moves we teach.”

One place to find an acro yoga open gym is Madison’s own space where every day people can join the circus.

A hop, leap and twirl past the Capitol will take you to a strange warehouse known as the Madison Circus Space, a community center that welcomes participants at any level.

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The space opened in 2013 when a small group of circus artists got together to rent a facility to do their arts together. From acrobatics to clown school, the MCS offers a variety of clubs, classes and events to train anyone in circus skills.

Their “Acro & Slack Jam” goes from 10AM to 12PM on Saturdays and costs $5. In the summer, the club practices by the Farmer’s Market, but from November to April, they meet in the MCS.

Each session starts with introductions and a few guidelines, and then people are released to play freely with each other. Their sessions are open gym-style, but trainers like Schneider and a few regulars are able to assist newcomers.

“We tend to draw a variety of people,” Schneider said. “At MCS, we like to say that circus is for everybody and every body. Big or small, old or young — you can do acro.”

From ages 4 to 81, Schneider has welcomed many people who see the appeals of acro yoga.

Getting Out of Comfort Zone

First of all, acro yoga is a great way to get out of your comfort zone. There are always regulars that are more than happy to help new timers with the positions. Plus, if you’re trying to get better at trusting people, being thrown in the air can really help with that. 

Acro yoga is a unique and fun way to step out of your box and try something new, and maybe discover flexibility you never thought you had.

Connecting With People

Moreover, acro yoga helps you connect with people because you get close to them at your own comfort. Whether you’re a base, flyer, spotter or watcher, you can participate in the bizarre joy that is lifting people into different poses. 

The regulars are patient and very welcoming, guiding you safely into the vulnerabilities you may have feared to enter. All in all, the sessions at MCS is a safe, friendly and non-judgemental environment to exercise and make new friends.

Learn a New Skill

How cool is it to say that you learned how to lift someone in the air with your feet? Acro yoga is a cool skill to learn and easy to master. With its experienced instructor and abundance of acrobats, the MCS offers training that’s safe for even children to participate in. 

And who knows — it may lead you into a whole world of stunts and wonders only a circus can teach.

Cheap Option

Finally, acro yoga is a cheap way to get your yoga fix. As the demand for yoga increases, classes can get expensive — even at the UW. The MCS’s sessions are $5 a week with no prior training required.

Other options like The Studio, Inner Fire Yoga and Aum Aubree Yoga have sessions that are more expensive but guide participants more than MCS’s open gym. Whichever you choose, acro yoga can be a cheaper option if you go to the right place with the qualifications you desire.

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If you’re looking for a new hobby this winter, try acro yoga. It’s a great way to build strength and flexibility, meet new friends and quite literally lift your spirits.