Some of the biggest issues that come up in relationships, regardless of the gender make up of the people involved are of course : trust, commitment, communication, and vulnerability. These are some of the hardest challenges to overcome because the give and take is so intangible. Once you get into the habit of second guessing your partner it is almost impossible to break it. Not only because we have our own issues we are trying to figure out but it is nearly impossible to know what is going on with the other person as well. Even when we try couples therapy it can just lead to the same cyclic conversations and lead us to know where. Our words can ignite emotions that make it difficult to hear what is is being said and make us reactionary as we have learned, the highest form of communication is touch.
Acro yoga is a type of yoga that mixes thai massage, traditional yoga, and acrobatics, and is often referred to as partner yoga. Working with a partner is a good idea for any physical activity and specifically yoga as well. What makes acro yoga unique is that you are aligning a mind and body connection, not only to calm and center yourself but to achieve synchronicity with your partner. As you progress towards each position you must be aware of you own movements but constantly checking in an maintaining contact with you “significant other”. The to roles are the flyer, which is the person being supported and is elevated and the base, who is supporting the flyer. If you can recall those trust falls you might have done on with summer camp or as a team building exercises? This is like that but simply with one other person.
The movements range in difficulty and require different skill sets to perfect each. Some positions require the base to be flexible, and others require them to be strong. Conversely, the flyer might have to balance themselves or rely on the base to keep them in the air. It is an all ages, all body types series movements that can be routine or improvised. What is constant in successful pairings, is the characteristics between the two people participating.
Commitment, the first thing must be agreed upon is that both people want the same thing. To get from one place to the next and to get there as safely as possible. It is too easy to hurt someone if that is your intention. You must commit to bringing your best self to the pairing to ensure that you are both in a comfortable place.
Trust, Once that initial commitment is made, you must trust that the other person has your best interests at hear. The beauty is that poses and transitions increase in difficulty as you progress so you can’t just skip to an advanced state with out a foundation with a risking injury. You must go at a pace comfortable for each of you and clearly articulate that pace with your actions and body. And this is how increased trust is developed, we gradually increase our ability to perform as a pair when out trust levels grow.
Communication, if the flyer feels like they are going to fall it is their responsibility to say. “I feel like I am falling.” Otherwise they will not get the additional support they need. Same as the base needs to let the flyer know ” My hand is slipping.” You have to be honest about what is going on with yourself and be open to accepting the other persons truth. If the flyer is not very flexible there are certain positions that may cause discomfort and others that may be downright painful. If the base is not strong enough to support the flyer in a position, they couple is not ready to be in that state. The two can only perform at a level as high as BOTH are comfortable.
Vulnerability, Fear is invariably going to come into play, not only for the flyer but the person that has to support them. You are forced to confront your own insecurities and fears with another person there to witness it. If the base tenses up and grips the flyers body because they are afraid, it can cause injury. If the flyer to quickly reacts, then someone could easily be hurt by and accidental punch or a kick, that was not intentional but simply based on a reflex. We must be open to the possibility of being hurt, all the while doing everything we can to ensure the other person is taken care of. The selflessness is at times, the glue that makes the holds stick.
What happens as a result of these connections is that every so often the flyer will receive a thrill of accomplishing something they never thought they could. The base will vicariously revel in that joy as a supporting part of another person’s growth. When everything lines up, it is possible for both people to click, and find a harmony that may last an instant or an hour. It is that harmony that we are really searching for in our relationships, in sex, and in companionship.
That zen, meditative moment we can get to practicing traditional yoga is one that can be share between two people. Male, or female, straight or gay, and is symbolic of the possibility within all of us to connect. We here about these relationship elements time and again but in acro yoga you have a tangible means to communicate these principles and see real results. You can also see truth of two people’s incompatibility as well. Acro yoga is the physical mirror that reflects your mental changes in position, the same laws of gravity apply to keep us from falling, we need support. When you fall in love, there should be someone to catch you.To paraphrase Sir Isaac Newton “Objects in emotion with to stay there.”
all photos, including cover image by Jasper Johal