Learning AcroYoga: Terminology and Body Cues

Specific Terms To Align The Body

AcroYoga 101

Today I’m going to go over some standard cues you might hear when learning acroyoga technique. These verbal cues are designed to be simple and clear, as well as to instruct an individual into a proper stack. It’s easy to get confused when your upside down and disoriented. Using verbal cues to navigate participants into the correct position is important. These terms allow a base and flyer to communicate effectively to get to a stacked position as quickly as possible. Here is a list off the words I will go over today:

  • Arch
  • Hollow
  • Pike
  • Straddle
  • Straddle Pike


Photo by Damien Lamee

These words are neutral and non-threatening, making it easy to receive them as instruction.  This helps create a fun and safe environment for individuals to explore countless body stack positions. So let’s take a look at each of these words one by one. Luckily my roommate @yakovstove was willing to be a model for all the following pictures. I took a picture showing the body position for each term.


Torso Alignment

Arch, Hollow

Let’s talk about the torso (hip to the shoulder). There are two words that instruct alignment specific to this region. The first word is ARCH (photo 1). The chest and ribs are lifting up towards the sky and away from the spine, creating a curve in the low and mid back. Imagine you are lying back flat on the ground, and I say “arch”. Now you know lift the chest and ribs to the sky. But what if I want you to come out of that and go more towards a flat back again? That brings us to the other word that instructs torso alignment, HOLLOW.

Hollow (photo 2) is the opposite of arch, meaning the chest and ribs are drawing in towards the spine, rather than away from the spine. Engaging the arms helps to activate the core as you hollow the body. Looking at your toes also helps fire up your abs as well as your shoulders. This is an active pose, so it’s great to train on the ground as a warm-up exercise. Hollow is also a great cue to give a flyer when they are inverted with a big arch in their back, and you want them to be more straight up and down.

These are two common words used to encourage torso alignment. Next let’s talk about the hips. These upcoming words are all specific to leg orientation from movement driven with the hip-joint.


The Hip Joint

Straddle, Pike, Staddle Pike

The cue STRADDLE (photo 1) generally refers to your legs being wider than your hips. Your legs and feet are moving away from the midline of your body laterally. This ‘moving away’ motion with the legs is known as abduction. The opposite motion, bringing your legs towards the midline or across the midline is called adduction.

Next we have PIKE. To pike, simply lay on the ground and raise your legs away from the ground. This means bending at the hips, moving your legs out in front of your body.  This motion of moving your legs out in front of you is known as flexion. The counter movement, bringing your leg back toward the ground to a stacked position under your hips, is called extension.

Now put those last two together and we have STRADDLE PIKE position. This means feet wider than hips and raised of the ground. You can have a wide or narrow straddle in a straddle pike. You can also have your feet several inches off the ground or have your ankles over your hips, creating an L-shape with your body. These are all variations of straddle pike.

Straddle Pike

These are just a few of the basic terms you’ll come across when learning acroyoga technique, but it’s a great place to start. Now when you go check out an acroyoga class you will have a head start on the body cues. Proper bone stacking is key for finding success in your acro practice. The faster you find your stack the better for all parties involved.

Sometimes, less is more. Trying to describe what you want someone else to do with their body can be challenging. These terms simplify the process and take extra words out of the equation. When you familiarize your body with the motions associated with these words, it becomes easier to control and isolate individual body parts. Once you harness this strength and find this mind/body connection, you can start to move with ease and grace in your acro practice. HAVE FUN, STAY STRONG.



Buddy Thomas