The goal is not just to slow down but to ask, “How can we build a sustainable practice?”
The goal is not to win, but to keep playing for as long as possible.
The AcroChat at Divine Play 2017 regarding safety in acro was intelligent, investigative, and intentional.
We began with a sharing of accidents. Why? An important part of promoting safety is normalizing discussions of injury and accidents. In today’s social-media-driven culture, we often see the highlight reel of acroyoga: beautiful sunset pictures, the joy of first flight, the honeymoon of acro partnerships. We do not see the days we take off from training because we pushed too hard over the weekend. We do not have the privilege of retelling the stories of those who have left the practice because of multiple injuries, whether they were physical or emotional. We don’t see the exhaustion of traveling teachers who, in the current climate, may feel they need to hide chronic or acute pain to maintain a brand image of joyful bliss. People who become injured may blame themselves and feel shame. These stories, then, can become lost and hidden in the midst of fear, shame, and anxiety, contributing to selection bias when we consider the risks of acroyoga.
Discussing safety in acro  and normalizing post-accident analysis contributes to improvements in teaching methods, in the culture of acro, and in the creation of spaces where we are allowed to say “no” and exercise accurate self-assessment. Stories shared at Divine Play included the following:
Common themes for factors contributing to injury included miscommunicated/unplanned exit strategies, fatigue, inaccurate assessment of the unpredictable nature of working with beginners, lack of proper warm-ups and preparation/progression/calibration. Strategies for addressing these concerns include the following:
Use words from your own point of view when saying no, and speak to your own limitations.
Ex. “No, thank you for asking, I appreciate that you asked me and I’m flattered, I’m not up for it right now.”
On Saying no:
Let us destigmatize the use of “no.” Invite the use of “no” as a prerequisite to “yes.” Invite others to use “no” because if someone cannot say no without fear of retribution, how can we trust that their “yes” is true? “No” is a complete answer.
If it’s not a “f*ck yes,” it is a No. – Look for signs of enthusiastic consent. Consent can be confusing. Enthusiastic consent is not confusing. Notice this process of identifying consent in yourself as well – an internal ”umm…” is a no.
Practice the following:
Thank you for your care, your courage and support of a practice that continues to inspire and create space for so many of us.
 Past note from 2014 DP AcroChats
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"If you know what you are doing, you can do what you want" - Moshe Feldenkrais
Developing an awareness of one's own body and movement practice is an important piece of the acro/life puzzle. Through my Feldenkrais training, I have continued to improve my mental blueprint of who I am: how I feel in a somatic experience, how I react to my external environment, how I learn, and how I interact with others, among other things. The beauty is really in the subtle and ever-evolving nature of learning through the Feldenkrais Method®. Although I am only past the first portion of an eight-session Feldenkrais training, I can already see how amazing this approach to learning is, and how the practice extends to a way of living.
I love the focus on self-regulation and self-organization in Feldenkrais. By accessing the intelligence of the nervous system, humans can learn through play in a safe environment. This concept is one that I strive to apply in my acro and movement practices. Although acro is a partner practice, I take responsibility for my personal self-development through a solo practice. For example, maintaining a handstand practice is something that I enjoy. By taking out one variable of the equation (another person), I can focus on my personal progress and, as a result, improve the quality of my interpersonal movement-based relationships (flyer/base connection in acro, specifically) because I have worked on myself in an individual capacity.
I actually find it quite difficult to explain my Feldenkrais experiences because so much of it takes place on a level that I have not accessed regularly in the past. Many of my learning experiences have taken place in an academic environment, where the message is, "push, push, and be better than everyone else!"
Hello adrenal fatigue. o.O
I am incredibly grateful that the Feldenkrais Method found me, and I look forward to evolving at the edge of my comfort zone through a process of self-reflection and exploration.
Photo Credit: Angel Di Benedetto
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Throughout the course of my experiment, I often have the following recurring thought:
I respect people who survive the process of base learning. How do they get through this, anyways??
A huge amount of grit. Obviously.
Not only does one need to feed the physical body, but one must cultivate a mental attitude of "yes I can do this even if all the flyers say my feet hurt and avoid me like the plague because I'm stressed that everyone else around me is better, and the only flyer that works with me uses my pointy feet for fascial release around her hips -.- ..."
Furthermore, those bird squats, tic tocs, one-leg presses and long holds require a fairly patient flyer who is ok with hanging out in a position for a loooog time. We won't get into the fact that I've been chasing appropriately-sized flyers who are generally women: as a beginner base, a significant part of my energy is spent finding tiny people I can base safely with minimal long-term consequences on my body.
Here is where we come to the concept of intentional regression. This means when something hurts or stops working multiple times, I must back off. Recently, this means that in order to learn how to base, I am NOT basing (much) while I take time off to discover exactly why my left psoas is Particularly hepful when it comes to being SO much a pain in the ASs.
Apparently, grit means being ok with doing no acro for a while. :(
This means I spend "acro" time studying topics like pain management, foam rolling (noooo not again!!), and reflecting on my Feldenkrais training experiences.
What's that? Keep posted for the next article on sensitivity and technique in superbasing!
Basing is hard. In my second month as a microbase, I've found that the following contributes to the creation of a great basing practice:
3. Stability (static and dynamic)
4. CNS (Central Nervous System) training
In order to be a safe base who introduces beginners to the practice, the following skills are useful for supporting flyers in their exploration of movement (v = verbal, nv = non-verbal):
1. Good communication
-Active listening (v)
-Principles of non-violent communication (v)
2. Receptivity to a partner's goals and needs (v) and to subtle movement cues (nv)
3. Sensitivity (v, nv)
4. Awareness of Consent (Question: Am I using my partner to do what I want without their consent, or are we working as a team in collaboration to reach a shared goal?)
5. Stability through a significant range of motion (ROM): Allows for falling with intention in a slow and controlled manner as one "moves floorwards."
6. Openness to use of spotters to assist in safety and/or coaching
PS Striving to be a communicative human being who exercises patience and respect with other humans is also a great idea! Having a willingness and curiosity to explore places where one might otherwise become bored also helps.
v - verbal
nv - non-verbal