Many people have said to me: “I could never do that because I’m not strong enough” or “not flexible enough”. We are often quick quick to assume failure in something before trying it, perhaps out of self-limiting beliefs. The practice of AcroYoga has made me stronger and more flexible than ever before, and neither strength nor flexibility were pre-requisites to start learning.
The only requirement to begin an AcroYoga practice is to have an open mind. I have been a participant of and witness to amazing growth in character through this playful practice. Because we transition from our own mat into a community of support, we are given the opportunity to explore trust, communication, compassion and most importantly: playfulness.
As in a yoga practice, there are modifications to suit your body and all of its beauty: tightness, past injuries, shape, size, strength and weakness. And just like a yoga practice, it will take time to learn.
The act giving your weight to someone to support you, and in return, receiving someone’s weight is a powerful experience. The first time I was to go up on someone’s feet was a roller coaster of emotions. I was afraid I would crush the girl beneath me and thought there was no way I would get my feet off the ground unless strong winds were to blow through the studio. But she had me, my spotter had me, I just had to trust. And when I did, it was freeing, it was joyful, it was empowering.
I am grateful to be able to share this gift with my community, to empower through flight and to spread playfulness wherever I can. My family has supported my passion from every corner of the country, and in the past year I was able to fly both of my parents and all four of my siblings in return. I will never forget the look on each of their faces, the wonderment of flight, and for that I am even more grateful to them.
I am constantly inspired by the excitement in the eyes of someone taking a first-flight. My heart swells when I see my students sharing what they’ve learned with others new to the practice. This experience is more than flashy tricks; it is a family of open-hearts, supportive hands and curious feet.
So yes, a big yes- AcroYoga is for everybody.
When I hear this, I often see between the lines the question: “is it romantic?”.
No you do not need a partner, and it is not inherently romantic. Though like anything, two people can choose to make it romantic if they like.
For me, AcroYoga is a playful practice among friends. It does not have an implied sexual or sensual nature. Like Yoga, this is an intimate practice in the sense that you are connecting with yourself and others on a deeper level. We explore trust, communication, compassion, balance, joy and challenges together.
AcroYoga may become another beautiful way to connect with a loved one, and I have seen some beautiful relationships grow in the AcroYoga community.
However, classes are a safe space to learn and explore as a community, not a place for pick ups. We ask that you respect the boundaries of others and the experience of learning in community.
You do not need to bring a partner to a class or workshop. It is definitely OK to come solo! We work in groups of 3 or 4 to ensure safely for everyone, as well as offer the opportunity to learn every role: base, flyer and spotter. If you do come with a partner we will honor that, and ask that you work with another individual or pair so that there is always a spotter present.
A Jam is not a class, but rather a time and place to practice and play. It is a gathering of AcroYogis and playful people to share what they love to do. Teachers who may be present are there to work on their practice in community as well. AcroYoga is meant to be shared through physical transmission; it is best learned by doing. A Jam is a great place to take what you’ve learned in classes and workshops and try them out with others of different levels of experience. To keep our community healthy and safe, asking for a spotter is expected when working on something new or difficult.
Another element of safety is the use of “accurate self-assessment”. It is easy to get excited about or inspired by high-level acrobatics seen at Jams by experienced practitioners. Before trying something potentially dangerous, you should ask yourself and your community a few questions:
Does this pose or transition fit in my current range of abilities?
Do we have willing and knowledgeable spotters?
Are there calibrations or pre-requisites I should learn first?
Do we all feel safe trying it out?
Jams are meant to be fun community gatherings and injuries are no fun. It is our responsibility as a group to avoid injury when possible. So show up ready for fun, and all you need to do is ask: “do you want to play?”.
Flight Club is a safe place to come as you are, to play, to grow and to find support from others. As our community continues to grow I want to remind those old and new about physical safety at Jams. We had over 60 (SIXTY!) people at our Jam on Wednesday night, I could not have been more proud and exited to see so many come together to play. I look to our dedicated, longtime members to be examples of safety and ambassadors for Flight Club. And those newer to AcroYoga and Flight Club, I ask that you follow their lead and continue to learn how to practice in the safest way.
We have not had any injuries recently (and very few in our history) and I would LOVE to keep it that way. Injuries can and will happen in AcroYoga, but many can be prevented. There is often a “monkey see, monkey do” effect with skills that travels through the group. For example, acroyogi sees another acroyogi doing something fun/cool/pretty/exciting, and says “me too!”, without knowing much about the skill itself, the skills leading up to it, or how to safely spot it.
Training foundational skills is key to becoming a badass, and a trustworthy playmate. Training spotting is THE MOST badass. We have some phenomenal spotters in our community with whom I trust my life, and they allow me to train up towards newer and more difficult skills. Without that sense of security, I won’t put myself and others in harm’s way.
Consent is another MAJOR part of safety in acrobatics. What I mean is that all parties are informed of the skill at hand, are willing and able to attempt and a spotter or several spotters all knowing what their role is. Spotting dynamic and/or standing skills truly is an art. If you are asked to spot a skill, be honest! Ask questions, and be sure that you know what is expected of you. It is safest to decline, say no, if you do not feel like the best candidate for the job.
I would like to set a precedent for our Jams, and remind everyone of some guidelines to follow so that we all stay safe:
* When working with someone for the first time on a skill that one or both partners have not done before: HAVE A SPOTTER
* Any standing skill, any day, with any partner: HAVE A SPOTTER, at least for the first few attempts while you calibrate. Know your exit plan, and the ways it could go poorly and plan for that as well. Have plenty of space above and around you.
* For standing skills the spotters must be taller/bigger than the flyer
* If you have done the skill but your partner never has: HAVE A SPOTTER
* Any group pose (more than 2 people): HAVE MULTIPLE SPOTTERS
Feel free to add any suggestions to this list, or voice any safety concerns you may have. I am always available to talk about it. I am so grateful to each of you for coming out week after week to try some pretty amazing stuff. Keep it up, keep yourselves safe and keep sharing!
Blogs by: Jen Cameron