How I Go From Fearful To Fierce In Acroyoga

by kendracharts
July 6, 2015

I partnered up with an acroyoga newbie for bird pose at an acrojam in Manila, Philippines. The thing is while basing he kept closing his eyes. Although my mind was going crazy with fearful commentary I was able to stay fierce and not let it take over.
In hindsight, I now realize how powerful it is to know your partner’s got you. And how important is to see and be seen to build the confidence and connection between each other. 
Even though Acroyoga is intended as a partner practice, many of us feel alone while doing it which, exponentially escalates the fear. The signs of your partner being scared are not always as obvious as the base closing their eyes.

Instances of fear arising may look like:

  • Someone’s body in the partnership is super tense, frozen, flailing or spazzing
  • Breath holding
  • Facial expressions of complete horror and uncertainty
  • Frustration
  • Holding on for dear life and not wanting to let go where there are stable contact points between the base and flyer

Which is why I’ve started looking, listening and tuning into those moments of fear and seeing how it can shift to a place of courage between partners. 
Fear will always exist and its actually a gift as it keeps us safe. But, there are times when it overtakes in a not so healthy way.  It serves us more to manage and use it in an empowering way. One of the most powerful tools for me to go from fearful to fierce in my Acroyoga practice is asking. 
For example, in Francis and my practice when we are pushing our edges and doing things that scare us we are asking a lot of one another to be confident  and practice in a safe, mindful way. And I’ve found if I verbalize that I am scared and ask for extra support, instead of reacting in the moment or staying stuck in the lizard brain, it shifts us to a place of calm focus.

Here are my favorite things to ask for to go from fearful to fierce in Acroyoga:

  • To go slower in the movements
  • To get solid in the current pose before moving to the next level one
  • To do progressions before going for that trick that’s frustrating or scary
  • For an experienced teacher for guidance
  • For more support where it feels weak or unstable in the connection between the base and flyer
  • For a trustworthy spotter
  • To change roles (base if you fly, fly if you base) in basic poses with someone same size or smaller
  • To sync the breath using the inhale and exhale to move together

Through asking I’ve found that a constant level of mindfulness between the base, flyer and spotter exists. Without this level of awareness the whole partnership and possibly community starts to fall apart and with it comes injury, burnout and frustration. In the big picture, asking allows trust to grow and fear to diminish in our partnerships both within the practice and outside in everyday life.
Please take a moment right now and comment below if fear is a factor in your Acroyoga practice and what you’ve tried to overcome it.  I would absolutely love to hear from you.

5 thoughts on “How I Go From Fearful To Fierce In Acroyoga”

  1. Pingback: Acrolibrium: The Sweet Spot Science of Acro

  2. I have always liked the look of Acroyoga and have recently had the opportunity to try it. I had fun but was TERRIFIED that I would fall the whole time (I’ve battled with fear of falling for a while.. I panic and can’t think straight). Ifter around four hours I could just about get into bird pose and got into leaf with lots of help but really struggled to let go of the bases hands (especially to try superman pose) as genuinely felt like I was unstable and would fall 🙁 I don’t know how to get over this fear so any tips/insights would be greatly appreciated xx

    1. Hi Alex,
      So glad you had the chance to try Acroyoga and stayed with it even though some fears were coming up. A great way to work with getting comfortable and confident is to keep practicing in a safe and supportive way. Such as taking a class or workshop, using a spot and/or keeping hands in bird until your base feels super stable underneath you (there’s no rush).
      The things that make me feel most stable in bird particularly as a flyer is 1) to make sure the foundation aka the bases legs are over their hips 2) That the base helps me lift my chest by pushing through the ball mounts of their feet like their pressing on a gas pedal and 3) Avoiding hail mary attempts and instead getting so light in the hands that the hands simply float up and away from the bases (you can ask them to keep their arms up for extra support). Let me know how it goes!

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