Building Trust part 1: Finding the "Yoga" in Acroyoga series
An acroyoga practice is as much about developing yogic skills as it is acrobatic ones. And many skills, physical and non-physical, are shared by both acro and yoga. In this series we look at some of those less tangible, but very necessary skills.
Practicing Foot-to-Hand pose is extremely difficult for me. Even low to the ground, even with a familiar partner - a rock solid base, even with an experienced spotter, and an "escape route" planned and practiced, F2H is scary for me. I would rather fly ANYTHING upside down than place my feet in someone else's hands. Something about having my feet in the control of another person terrifies me. But this pose also gives me the opportunity to identify, observe, and manage feelings and sensations around the fear. And by engaging in that process repeatedly, I begin to trust myself and my partners more.
Below we discuss some of our thoughts on various aspects of trust and where we find them in acroyoga.
Does acroyoga build more trusting practitioners or do trusting practitioners build better acroyoga?
ASPECTS OF TRUST
SELF TRUST We trust ourselves...
Through the practice of acroyoga, we get stronger, more coordinated and more mobile, and we have repeated successes in skills and poses that once seemed impossible, which gives us confidence in our bodies and allows us more trust in our own physical capabilities. We also gain mental capabilities, including the ability to accurately self-assess: to be honest with ourselves and our partners; to ask for help when we need it; to make intelligent and intentional choices; to say No, take breaks, and walk away. In short, we trust ourselves to be responsible for our own personal growth. And as we grow, we can handle a more physically demanding practice. The cycle continues...
PARTICULAR TRUST We trust the people we know...
...like our regular partners, spotters, and community members. We trust them to be honest with us about their goals, limits, needs, and abilities. We trust them to be working with us toward a common goal. We trust them to be practicing accurate self-assessment so they can identify and voice their physical and psychological abilities and limits, as well as their needs. We trust them to maintain an atmosphere where personal boundaries are respected and to listen. It's basic supply and demand: the more people we work with successfully, the more people we let into the circle of trust, the more particular trust is created.
INSTITUTIONAL TRUST We trust the systems in place...
...like the venues where we practice, the teachers and leaders who guide the field, and the organizers who bring us together. We trust gym and studio owners to keep us safe by maintaining equipment and facilities, and hiring educated and qualified instructors. We trust our teachers and our teacher-trainers to be well-informed and to guide as appropriately. We trust the influencers of the internet to be inspiring. By learning to trust these institutions within the small community of acroyoga, do we learn to trust other institutions as well?
SOCIAL TRUST we trust people we don't know...
...like newcomers into the community or new communities within the greater acroyoga world. When newbies come into a class or jam, especially for the first time, it is a great show of trust. They trust the veterans to guide them through an experience that can be very intimidating. The same is true for anyone joining a new acroyoga group. Even veterans can be intimidated by visiting a jam, class, or festival in an unfamiliar part of the world. But perhaps the stronger the social trust is at home, the greater chance we will jump into a new community without fear. Does social trust travel well?
Many people who have practiced acroyoga for any decent amount of time say they are developing trust. When we advertise acroyoga, we often say, "It builds trust!" But why? And what kind of trust? And how? We hope you'll consider the following points within your own practice, partnership or community and
join the discussion...
Have you noticed a shift in your self-reliance and ability to trust yourself, make decisions, or confidence after taking up an acroyoga practice?
Has an acroyoga practice allowed one of your personal relationships to experience deeper trust?
Have you found it easier to trust strangers, systems, or people in general since starting acroyoga?
We'd love to hear your reflections and keep the conversation going in the comments below.