Yoga gets a modern twist – India Today Magazine
Every Sunday from 8 a.m. to noon, Pradeep Mehta and his students put on quite a show at Cubbon Park in Bengaluru. They can be seen forming 10-feet-high pyramids which involve three people balancing on each other or performing a handstand on the shoulders of another. While a few walkers take out their phones to click pictures, others simply want to know what’s going on. The questions asked most often are: “Is this a circus?”, “What are you doing exactly?”, “Are these stunts?” Mehta patiently informs the onlookers that they are witnessing a class of acro-yoga, which blends yoga, acrobatics and healing arts.
Mehta is only too happy with the attention he is getting for a discipline he started teaching barely five months ago. Trained with Bharat Thakur in artistic yoga in Delhi and a certified trainer in AcroYoga Immersions from Goa and Berlin, Mehta left his job in HR to start his school, Yoga Art. In India, he is one of the few instructors of this emerging style, which was founded by Jason Nemer and Jenny Sauer Klein in 2003. So far Mehta, 34, has taken acro-yoga to Hyderabad, Mysuru, Ahmedabad and Mumbai.
An acro-yoga session begins with a warm-up focusing on building strength in the hands and arms-handstands are a vital part of the regimen-and a core workout. The participants can take up different roles: base or ‘sitter’, ‘flyer’ and spotter. As the sitter and flyer execute an asana, the latter is on standby mode in case there is a fall. “He (the spotter) plays a critical role, especially watching out for the person who is flying,” says Mehta, who also teaches power yoga and judges garba and dandiya competitions. Acro-yoga is seen as a form of partner yoga, and apart from discipline and concentration- essential aspects of acrobatics- trust and teamwork between participants is key to the practice. While dancers, acrobats, gymnasts and fitness enthusiasts will take to acro-yoga easily, Mehta insists it is for everybody-even those who have no prior experience in yoga. In Cubbon Park, Mehta’s clientele is mostly people not older than 40. “Younger people are more open and eager to try out new things,” he says.