DISCLAIMER: This article talks about Acro as my practice. It is not specifically sport or circus acrobatics, nor is it exclusive to an acroyoga brand. It is my own eclectic practice derived from many different lessons I learned from studying yoga, acro, life and with some teachers from circus, sport acrobatics and various acroyoga schools. This is how I play, study and teach acro.Everyone who knows me knows how much I love acro. It is almost my religion, my mantra and my life art. Most current acro monkeys may understand and empathize. Others who won’t will still respect it. But majority of non-acro people ask me: “Why acro?”
Keep in mind: I feel that everyone should acro. So to me this is the same as “Give me a reason to try acro.” I have so many reasons. However, a number of them stand out more, so I decided to share them publicly. These are the best reasons I have for doing acro. It might make you realize you are missing it in your life. Simply because it should be.
First of all, notice that physical fitness and acrobatic skills are not here. It’s because they are not my first priority in acro, and I get them from a number of other practices that I have. So even though acro gets you pro wrestler strong and ninja-warrior agile, these things don’t make it to my top list. Here are the ones that actually do.
You remember in school when you take a basic class that eventually opens you up to a knowledge explosion? For example, you start out with one plus one and then eventually end up with vector calculus. Acro is the basic class for existence. It teaches how to interact, adapt, trust, be accountable, and most of all, co-operate. It illustrates in the simplest way how it works to be truly IN the world.
Acro exemplifies how things gets more complex when working with someone else. And more so with a group. It highlights the importance of having a role. And even if someone is able to do everything, It’s not just them anymore. Assumption and commitment to roles are needed to get things done, otherwise everyone gets stuck in a stagnant struggle. Acro also exposes the danger of self-righteously manipulating someone else, or being totally ignorant of another person’s struggles and problems.
Sounds familiar? Prejudice, racism, politics, community, these are but a few of the life courses that I believe Acro should be a prerequisite or treatment for. Acro is virtually a practice of Existence 101 that opens us up to the chance of graduating to harmony and balance.
One wonderful thing acro has is the sharing of intangible traits such as confidence, fear, strength and creativity. The greatest teachers I have met aren’t the ones who make me go: “Wow, so good!” Rather, they are the ones who made me go: “Wow, I can actually do this.” They spark the instant change from being totally terrified to going all in. Through touch, words, a glance, or even just presence, metaphysical traits get shared and multiplied almost magically. Having this meta-sharing ability, even subconsciously, dramatically improves the ability to help people hindered by fear, nervousness, misery or low energy.
There are so many acro photos or videos with the hashtag #relationshipgoals. How appropriate! But not solely because of the impressive physical feat or the beautiful poses that so often accompany this hashtag. It’s because acro acts on relationship at its rawest level. It refines the relationship’s trust, compassion, reliability, sensitivity, and compromise with real-time physical consequences. It gets so raw and deep that a lot of couples usually go through a real rough patch when they start practicing acro together. The truth is that acro is not guaranteed to bring everyone closer. In fact, I have seen it break couples apart more than I would like. But on the other hand, pushing through results in a relationship reinforced with super-enhanced Wolverine adamantium steel (That means really, really, indestructible for any non-nerds :P).
To succeed, Acro has to be in the moment with the right amount of vision towards both the future and the past. Going too far forward or back can hinder any kind of movement or progress, especially if it distracts too much from being present. It’s great to have a goal and be prepared for certain things, but everything can change depending on what happens right now. Acro shows how the past can be a great teacher but can also become potential-limiting blinders, while the future can bring a paralyzing fear if overthought. So having both goal and past in my peripheral vision is really all that is needed, and the key is having majority of the focus on what is happening now.
Harmony And Tolerance
A popular quote says if you want it done right, do it yourself. It’s either my way or the high way. This has created a culture of separation and of singular sufficiency that has made it quite difficult to work cohesively in groups without establishing dominance, some sort of hierarchy or power system. In acro, there is strong value in having a role that shouldn’t come with ranking or bias. Everyone has their skills, responsibility, and part. There are enough of us that there is room for everyone, and no one should be forced to stay in a certain role. There are different types, methods, and dynamics that allow multiple paths to similar goals. So what matters is not the manner of execution, but rather the collective aim.
Another lesson from acro is that it’s perfectly fine to not want to work with someone for individual reasons, as long as that decision doesn’t come with any hatred or bias. Rather, it is done as an act of respect and tolerance for each other’s differences and a big-picture decision to reach a mutual goal.
Acro is fun. There’s no better way to put it. It’s simple, portable, and ready-to-eat. It looks cool, it gets you fit, it’s exhilarating and exciting, it relieves stress, and we get to connect with friends from all over the globe. I’ve had students saying “It’s so hard but it’s so fun that it still relieves stress.” It’s also ultra-compatible with almost any other activity so you can integrate whatever you want: juggling, calisthenics, yoga, strength training, parkour, belly dancing, whatever! It develops confidence and trust. And if practiced consciously, it promotes success without forcing or putting down other people.
In a culture where most of what we learn and study is used to manipulate, force, or take advantage of other people, it is no surprise I am drawn to this practice that teaches progress through cooperation. In addition to physical, social, mental and energetic improvement, I get an activity that is so much fun I forget how many other good things it does for me. How many things can you say that about?
THAT’S why I acro. (And why everyone, including you, should too.)