For the last three days, I’ve been at an AcroYoga intensive, doing "impossible" things with people I've never worked with before. At one point, I see my partner take a deep breath on a last attempt to do some crazy maneuver. The moment strikes me, and I breathe with her. We move together, finally succeeding. This is the moment that stuck with me after the event, a moment where I deeply understood the “Yoga” in AcroYoga.
AcroYoga is partner yoga. It is yoga with the added dimension of another human being.
In partner yoga, we can practice yoga with the added challenges of working with another person. Like Yoga, AcroYoga is a physical practice. Unlike more traditional yoga, partner yoga is a social practice, giving up some deepness of internal exploration but adding richness from interacting with others.
One of my favorite terms in AcroYoga is “calibration”. We talk of how well calibrated we are to our partner. While there is a kind of initial “chemistry” you can have with a partner, calibration is something you develop. Partners often practice together over a long period of time developing subtle calibrations, their bodies understanding each other in ways their minds often cannot express.
Wikipedia defines Calibration as: "the process of finding a relationship between two quantities that are unknown”. [ref] In AcroYoga we learn how to tune ourselves to another person with the focus of a set of movements and postures. AcroYoga is a yoga of relationships. With repeated practice in AcroYoga, partners calibrate, disconnect, reconnect, recalibrate. In calibration we tune to each other, as repeated movement and counter-movements turn into instinctive reactions.
With repeated practice in Yoga, we self-calibrate. We connect our mind with our body via our breath over physical challenges. The practice of yoga brings us into an honest relationship with ourselves. We see our frustrations from determination and physical stress. We accept our physical limits and our emotional limits. We use our mind to understand and as our bodies express a posture. We tune our internal and external reactions using the repetition of a practice that refines us.
Traditionally, yoga ends with a period of rest in Savasana. There’s a peculiar feeling of peace that is often felt here. This is the feeling of self-calibration: the mind and body having been tuned together as a whole. In AcroYoga, you feel this from the inside out. Having been tuned to a partner, you experience yourself as a individual yet one that is part of a bigger dynamic.
On the final day, after a dozen hours of intense AcroYoga practice with someone I only recently met, I experienced a singular moment of calibration: a simple breath that connected the whole of myself to another person that allowed us to do something nearly impossible. Even with all of the kinds of crazy and impressive physical moves we did in AcroGasm, it is this single breath that meant the most.
Tomorrow, I begin another “traditional” yoga intensive, with a focus on Anatomy. In it, we will learn an intellectual understanding of the body, and apply it as "experiential anatomy" as a particular way of connecting the mind with a body. I’ll take with me a deeper understanding of what it means to tune my body, intellect, emotions and ultimately spirit into a well-calibrated self.
Many thanks to my partner Brooke, the Acrogasm team (Jason, Lux & Chelsey) and the San Marcos School of Yoga (Christina, Gioconda & guest Joseph) along with all my other friends, partners & teachers.