WATCH: Israel takes yoga to a whole new level

Combining elements of acrobatics and yoga, Israelis meet in parks around the country regularly to share their passion for Acrobalance.

Israelis flip out over Acrobalance (photo credit: Courtesy)
Israelis flip out over Acrobalance
(photo credit: Courtesy)
When I have tried yoga in the past, instead of drifting into spiritual abyss, my mind wanders. I tend to sit there wondering what my Mum is doing, how I need to go food shopping and what I need to do before the weekend. I can't make my mind be silent.
However, I may have found the perfect class for me. Acrobalance and Acroyoga incorporate elements of acrobatics and yoga, strengthen muscles and improve flexibility; and, as the names suggest, improve balance too.
Thanks to Facebook and word-of mouth, more Israelis are meeting for sessions under shady trees in different cities all over the country to try out this alternative, fun way to exercise.
I certainly felt like Superman when I tried it out  in the Negev on the weekend.
Sessions are done in pairs with one partner, the Base laying on the ground with their legs at a 90-degree angle while the second partner, the Flyer balances their body on top. There are many different positions you can do and with this type of yoga, it really feels like you can fly.
Beersheba students Or Furer and Roni Rosenthal say there is a lot more to the practice than it seems; that it teaches people about themselves and about others.
"I like that it's relaxing and fun, but in order to be able to "fly" you need to trust your "base". It's not always people you know, sometimes it's people you don't know so you need to trust that they won't drop you," Furer says.
"As both base and flyer you learn how to control different muscles in your body. As a flyer, you also need to be able to move your body weight from front to back. Acrobalance and Acroyoga is becoming a big thing all over Israel," Rosenthal says.
Acrobalance instructor and performer Avner Hochfeld of Tel Aviv says anyone can do Acroyoga and Acrobalance.
"It is beautiful and unique and it's for everybody," he says.
"When I started 17 years ago, no one heard of either exercise so I started to teach and did circus performances with the practices in it, and, slowly, slowly people are joining it. I think we have good weather here in Israel, we are warm people and I think those two things combined make this country successful in Acrobalance and Acroyoga.
"With yoga you do your own practice with your mat, but this is special, it is a beautiful sport with people working together," Hochfeld says.
"Acrobalance is something that came from the circus art, with two people or more. People make human pyramids and find the balance between lots of people to move from one trick to a different trick. Acroyoga takes the technique of Acrobalance and puts in the practice of Thai massage and yoga and is all combined to make therapeutic flying. It is healing, Acrobalance and yoga, and is simply beautiful."
The sports have become so popular in Israel that four years ago Hochfeld and instructor Yanai Levor created the Israeli Acrobatic Convention where teachers from all over the world come to the Negev for four days of teaching and performances.
"In the first year we had 150 people all come to Mitzpe Ramon for the convention and it is growing so fast that we expect at least 400 people coming to the next Acrobatic Convention in June," Hochfeld says.
"We have 13 teachers coming from all around the world for the June 4 – 7 event.
"It is a beautiful community to be part of and with our good weather it is making Israel the best place in the world for Acrobalance."
For more information, visit here
Upcoming AcroIsrael events:
May 30 - 31 Acrogasm: Wingate Institute (near Netanya)
June 4 – 7: Israeli Acrobatic Convention: Mitzpe Ramon. Call +972-8-659-5190.
June 13: AcroMania: Yakum (20 mins north of Tel-Aviv)