Just like yoga, I’ve come to understand that Acroyoga is so much more than cool movements and fun poses (although those are really great side notes). Aside from the obvious of testing both your will and your body awareness and capacity, there are some really great life lessons, habits of mind creations, and — dare I say — personality changes that come from an active acro practice and community.
Learning how to say no in a safe space. Acro provides a really great container for people who don’t keep strong boundaries perhaps for fear of rocking the boat or making other people feel bad to learn how to prioritise themselves. Saying “no” in Acro can literally be the difference between health and injury so the “shy” and innocuous either learn how to say it with their chest or struggle to advance in the practice. I obviously chose the first.
Learning how to communicate your needs and give feedback while also taking responsibility for what you can do better. Not everyone in Acro (and life essentially) is good at this. But in a solid community, you definitely are pushed toward it.
Believing in yourself or for some people, believing in others. Acro is as much about trust in others as it is about trust in yourself. Whichever one you need to work on.
Celebrating success. Even though social media wants to paint a difference picture, I actually think it’s a majority of people who struggle to celebrate their small wins in life. In Acro, you hold your first h2h for 0.5 seconds and that f-king counts. Other notable mentions: when you jump to star for the first time without assistance—even if you don’t keep the balance in the end. Making a micro adjustment to your foot placement that helps complete the washing machine. L-basing a flyer for the first time and not dropping them. Etc etc.
Learning how to accept support, even from strangers. This is a tough one and can sometimes lead back to number 1. But when that person you’ve never met before and whose name you don’t remember catches you when you over jump your standing hand-to-hand, you become close very quickly. They’ve actually possibly just saved your life. Who cares what their name is?
Realising that it’s almost never about you personally and that your ego is better left at the door (or the parking lot of the park). I’m not sure that this one is a majority but I figure since someone wrote a whole book about “not taking things personally” that it must be pretty common to think that everything is about (and revolves around) you. In acro, you’re part of a half. And even better if it’s a trio. It’s never only about you, and very rarely about you as a person. It’s mostly about what you bring to the table and how you engage with the people sitting there makes all the difference. The bottom line is that you’re part of a team and therefore you have to get over yourself.
It pushes you out of your comfort zone. In almost every way you can imagine. If not because of one or more of the above, then just the movements themselves or being touched by strangers or having to touch their sweat (or feet if you’re me). There’s bound to be something about the practice that will push you to get past yourself. In the best way.
Being honest with yourself about where you’re at. Obviously you don’t have to do this. And I’m sure there are still plenty of people who aren’t self aware. But you really put yourself at risk in this sport by not being honest with yourself and not self-assessing. Sure it’s nice to trust others but first you need to know yourself and what you’re actually ready for. This is a great practice to encourage that.
Patience and humility. I guess most things in life teach you patience and a good many humility. But here especially you have to keep yourself in check and understand that tiny progressions are still progressions. And not because you couldn’t jump straight away into 2-high doesn’t mean you aren’t on your way. It can be very intimidating to be at a jam and see people doing standing mono foot-to-hand and you can sometimes feel out of place or even unwelcome. But.. it can also be inspiring. You can also find amazement and appreciation for the sport and the human body and the dedication of the practitioners. The choice between the two sides is always yours. It can be difficult. Number 6 helps.
Community. Connection. Collaboration. Finally we’re here. This is probably one of my favourite things about acro. Not only is it very community-oriented but it is also global. Most major cities in the world have an Acro community and it’s a universal language. It’s a guaranteed way to feel at home no matter where you go and to find friends with common interests, epecially if you’ve gotten to/past all of the above. And eventually, you’ll start running into people from various global communities in other countries. The chances that you know someone who knows someone who you know are very high. It then becomes like a family reunion that you’re actually excited to attend. How can it get better?
As always, I am so grateful for the practice.