You might think of yoga as a solitary activity more than a form of group exercise. After all, even when you show up for a yoga class, this typically involves flowing on your own individual yoga mats.
However, in our opinion, one of the most beautiful and important aspects of yoga is the community you find through your practice.
The people you share a studio with can support you not just in an emotional sense, but physically, through multi-person yoga poses that come under the umbrella of acro yoga.
In this guide, we’ll be sharing some 4-person yoga poses to try as a group. We will also be discussing the benefits of acro yoga and how you can get started today!
Acro Yoga: What Is It?
If you’ve never heard of acro yoga, this is a style of yoga that combines elements of traditional yoga with acrobatic movements.
While acro yoga can be practiced on an individual basis, it’s often more fun as a group. Group acro yoga is challenging because not only do you have to perform the movements in unison, but you also have to support one another and sync your breathing.
Although attempting acrobatic yoga poses with up to 4 people might seem intimidating, it’s the perfect opportunity to expand your comfort zone when it comes to yoga and test out your physical strength and stability.
4-Person Yoga Poses You Should Try
If you have a group of 4 people you’d like to practice acro yoga with, you first need to find some poses that work with 4 people.
These poses are not the kind you’d typically see in traditional yoga, but you might have seen some of them before, since the popularity of multi-person acro yoga has been growing in recent years.
Nowadays, there are even yoga schools dedicated to acro yoga, so if you don’t know where to start, looking for an acro yoga school in your area is a great first step.
Here are some multi-person yoga poses we recommend you try:
1. 2-Person Yoga Poses
Before you jump straight into attempting yoga poses with a group of 4, it’s best to build up to this by learning some 2-person acro yoga poses.
These don’t have to be complicated. The goal of starting with 2-person poses is to get used to balancing your weight with another person.
One of the easiest poses to do with another person is the standing forward fold. Start standing back to back with your partner and gently fold at the waist at the same time.
As your head drops down, grab your partner’s ankles with your hands to deepen the fold. You can both bend your knees if needed.
A more advanced 2-person yoga pose is the twin trees pose. You and your partner will need to stand side by side, balancing each balancing on your inside leg.
The other foot needs to be planted above the knee, on the inner thigh on the balancing leg. From here, bring the palms of your outside hands to touch at the center line between your bodies, and reach the inside arms upward.
If you’re trying to build flexibility for acro yoga, try the seated twist. Sit in a cross-legged position with your back against your partner’s back.
From here, you should twist your body in one direction, while your partner twists the other way. Maintaining length in your spine, keep one hand on your opposite knee, and bring your other hand (the side you’re twisting toward) to your partner’s knee to deepen the twist.
For core, back, and arm strength, a great 2-person pose is the double plank. One partner will get into a plank position. The other partner will grab onto the first partner’s ankles and place their feet on their shoulder blades, so they are also in a plank position on top.
As you get better at these basic poses, you can move into other poses, such as the front bird. This is a flying position where one partner lies on their back with their legs in the air.
The other partner will lean their weight onto the first partner’s feet through their hips and use the first partner’s hands to get into a stacked position. From there, release the hands, and the flying partner should be able to balance on the feet of the bottom partner.
2. 3-Person Yoga Poses
Once you’re comfortable with 2-person yoga poses, move on to learn some 3-person poses before you attempt 4-person techniques.
3-person yoga poses can be as simple as the triple forward fold (the same as the double forward fold, but you stand back to back in a circle and hold hands to deepen the fold).
Another beginner-friendly 3-person pose is the lotus circle. This is where you sit back to back in a circle, with all participants in the lotus position, placing their hands on the knees of the partners to the left and right.
To increase the difficulty, move on to the 3-way dancer. Start standing in a circle, elevate the right leg backward, and shift your weight forward. Grab your back leg with the hand on the same side, and reach your other arm into the center of the circle, linking hands for balance.
You could even try L-shape downward dog. One person adopts the traditional downward dog position. The next person will stand in front of them, go into forward fold, and bring their legs up one at a time to rest on the first person’s hips. The third person will do the same to the second person.
3. Yoga Poses for 4 People
Once you have tried acro yoga poses with 2 or 3 people, it’s time to challenge yourself with some 4-person yoga poses.
You can do the L-shaped downward dog with 4 people. It works the same as with 3 people, except you have an extra person on the end of the line.
Just as you did the double-plank with 2 people, you can do this plank pose with 3 or even 4 people. You’ll need to make sure that you alternate the direction of each partner’s head to maintain stability, and the strongest, heaviest person should be on the bottom.
The L-shape flying pose is an advanced 4-person yoga pose that involves a lot of strength and balance.
Start with the strongest and heaviest people at the bottom, lying on their backs with their heads facing opposite directions and their feet in the air. The back of the third person needs to balance on the feet of the two people underneath, with legs and arms extended in the air.
Finally, the top person should clasp hands with the person underneath them, balancing their hips on that person’s feet.
Why Practice Group Yoga Poses
We’ve touched on some of the benefits of acro yoga already in this guide, but in case you still need a little encouragement to try 4-person acro yoga, here are some of the ways this kind of yoga practice can improve your life:
Improved Interpersonal Relationships
The main thing separating multi-person acro yoga from solo, traditional yoga is the fact that it necessitates collaboration, communication, and conflict-resolution.
When performing acrobatic yoga poses with multiple people, you need to trust your partners and work together to achieve a goal. There is an element of vulnerability involved in relying on other people for physical support.
Since vulnerability and trust are such key areas of positive relationships (and also areas that so many people struggle with), acro yoga can be a useful tool in improving your interpersonal relationships.
Another reason acro yoga can help to better your relationship skills is that it’s not always easy. In fact, at the start, it’s often very difficult. Unless you’re practicing with people who have the exact same body type, strengths, and abilities as you, you’re going to need to problem-solve.
Even if you and your partners match on all of these criteria, conflict may arise when you have different ideas about how best to execute a pose.
Therefore, being successful in 4-person yoga poses requires calm, effective conflict resolution. You will need to learn how to express yourself clearly while leaving space for others to do the same.
Mental Health Benefits
Traditional, solo yoga has a wide range of mental health benefits. While 4-person acro yoga is different from traditional yoga in many ways, many of these mental health benefits remain.
Just like traditional yoga, acro yoga requires you to center yourself and be present in the moment, and in your body. This means you have to allow any worries about the past or future to float by without engaging with them.
Since remaining stuck in the past or future is a major contributor to anxiety and depression, the very act of staying present while doing yoga can improve your mental health.
Acro yoga, like some of the more intense styles of traditional yoga, is physically demanding. It requires a lot of strength and will get your heart pumping. This releases endorphins, which boost the serotonin levels in your brain. Serotonin has the potential to significantly improve your mood.
Any form of exercise is likely to improve your circulation, but the great thing about acro yoga is that it involves a lot of inversions and balances. These movements are really effective for increasing blood flow to the muscles and brain.
For example, when you balance upside down for a handstand, there is more blood flow to the neck and head. These are areas of the body that, in everyday life and most forms of exercise, don’t get as much circulation.
Even just the act of engaging your muscles and getting your heart rate up will increase the flow of blood to your muscles, providing them with the oxygen they need to stay healthy and strong.
Physical Pain Management
When you first start practicing acro yoga, you’ll probably notice that your muscles feel sore because of the exertion. However, you might also notice that other types of physical pain and discomfort lessen with practice.
One of the main forms of pain that acro yoga can reduce is back pain. There are certain poses that acro yoga can help you unlock with the help of other people, that you wouldn’t be able to get into by yourself.
For instance, with the support of other yogis, you can extend your back further, which opens the thoracic spine. The thoracic spine is where a lot of back pain comes from, especially if you work in a job that sees you hunched over a computer every day.
This kind of bad posture compresses the spine, and acro yoga is one of the best ways to relieve discomfort caused by this.
Additionally, increasing blood flow to your muscles as described above delivers oxygen, which can help to relieve aches and pains.
Tips for Getting Started with Acro Yoga
Have we convinced you to start practicing acro yoga yet? If so, great! However, even with a lot of enthusiasm, it can be difficult to know where or how to begin with a non-traditional style of yoga. If you’re still not sure how to get started, here are some tips we have found helpful:
Don’t try to run before you can walk when you start acro yoga. Not only will this make things needlessly difficult, but trying advanced poses before you have the basics down can be unsafe.
Begin with basic acro yoga poses first. Warrior III and the Crescent pose are good examples of the types of poses you should start with. Not only are they more gentle on your joints and muscles compared to other poses, but they will help you to activate your nervous system.
Even as you start to get more advanced with acro yoga, it’s always a good idea to begin each session with a light warm up consisting of simpler poses.
Warming up your muscles and joints before jumping into demanding poses will reduce your risk of injury by making sure you’re flexible before you begin.
Try Some Flying Drills
You will need to rely on your partners for support when you start doing 4-person acro yoga poses, and they will need to rely on you. That’s why one of the first things we recommend doing when you start practicing with a group of people is some simple flying drills.
Flying drills for acro yoga involve one person lying on the ground with their feet on their partner’s hips and their hands raised straight in the air, perpendicular to their body.
The other partner (the flyer) will hold onto the hands of the person on the ground, leaning their body weight forward onto their partner’s feet.
Both partners will need to straighten their legs until the flyer is balanced directly on top of the base partner. The partner on the bottom should be fully supporting the partner on top.
This kind of exercise involves building trust and practicing using another person for stability and balance. It’s very important to master this before moving on to complex acro yoga poses, so practice these flying drills as often as you can.
Build Partner Relationships
Through practicing acro yoga, you should naturally build relationships with your yoga partners. After all, you will be building trust and developing a group dynamic as you go. However, we recommend taking every opportunity you can to grow your relationships with your yoga partners.
This might involve hanging out when you’re not practicing yoga, by going out for coffee or lunch, or participating in other fun, team-building activities.
Have open conversations with your yoga partners about their perspectives on acro yoga, any limitations they might have, and how they prefer to practice.
Communicate clearly, calmly, and effectively, maintaining an open and curious mindset. This will help you all to resolve problems or conflicts better as a group if they arise.
4-person acro yoga isn’t as intimidating as you might think! By working your way up to 4-person poses with 2 and 3 people, and making sure to warm up before each session with some flying exercises, you can build the level of strength, balance, and flexibility needed over time.
Acro yoga can boost your mental health, relieve physical pain, improve your circulation, and teach you the skills needed for health and successful interpersonal relationships.
Don’t forget to communicate with your partners before, during, and after your acro yoga sessions to make sure everyone stays safe and gets the most out of each session.
Frequently Asked Questions
Acro yoga involves a lot of balances and inversions, so there are inherent risks involved. When you start practicing acro yoga, it’s likely that you will make mistakes and fall sometimes.
Any situation in which you could fall, especially where other people are involved, is not going to be devoid of risks.
With that being said, there are steps you can take to make your acro yoga practice safer. First, and most importantly, do not practice when you’re injured.
Trying to push through an injury could lead to accidents, and you could make your own injury worse or even injure a partner in the process.
Secondly, make sure your practice space is as safe as possible. Always practice on a mat, and if necessary, put down some cushions or other padding to break your fall.
Before you start working on any poses, make sure all your partners are on the same page and understand the movements. If possible, having someone else to watch and spot you is a good idea.
If you’re unsure whether you can safely practice acro yoga due to pre-existing injuries or health conditions, speak to your doctor before you show up for practice.
Acro yoga does involve many advanced poses, and these are unrealistic for yoga beginners to start attempting straight away. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t start easing your way into acro yoga as a beginner.
Just like any other style of yoga, acro yoga has some foundational, basic poses that you can start practicing at any ability level.
With traditional yoga, you might start your journey by learning child’s pose, cobra, or downward dog, as opposed to jumping right into headstands. The same is true for acro yoga. The Crescent pose is quite beginner-friendly and helps to build your flexibility.
There are plenty of other poses that will open the door to acro yoga without requiring you to do complicated arm balances straight away.
Although we’ve been focusing on 4-person acro yoga poses in this guide, you don’t have to practice with a partner or group. It’s perfectly possible to do acro yoga by yourself – the only difference is you’ll need to stick to solo poses.