On Specialization, Microcorrection, and Turning Active into Passive
If you glance at the elevenjoga social media you will likely see our preferences. Eszter loves to fly. I love to base. And while we believe very strongly in the power and precision gained from specialization, we also believe in adaptability and not always doing what seems “easiest” or most convenient. So, we are mindful that Eszter gets basing time, and that I log flying hours. The problem is, my unease in flight is nearly as strong as my love for feeling firmly and securely rooted to the ground. There is some kind of innate fear that I must face every time I mount on someone’s feet.
On a cold day in November, I found myself perched upside down in star on the feet of a man I had only just met about 20 seconds before. After some initial adjustments and calibrations, I could feel that he was starting to loosen his grip on my hands, meaning to go into a free star.
We were not allowed to speak to our partners during this exercise, so I quietly, but vigorously, shook my head at him. I could feel my heartbeat quicken.
Now it goes without saying that consent is VERY important in the practice of acroyoga, for obvious reasons. These incredible asanas and flows are truly only possible if both people agree to work as a team and put all their effort and focus into establishing this connection. I cringe when I see bases throwing around beginner flyers, cringing and clinging for dear life, exclaiming their scared beginner flying mantra: “no, no no no, no … wait …. no!”.
But my new friend simply had much more faith in us than I did. I saw his mouth form the words: “It’s ok”. He nodded his head and took a deep breath, obviously as a instigation for me to do the same. I did.
After this I realized it was silly to be afraid of free star. In any case, I came all the way to Berlin to experience something new. So I nodded my head back at him, and we started to release our hands. He kept his up and ready, just in case, but it turns out we didn’t need them at all. We floated in air for what felt like hours.
Free star, a solar asana which I’d always thought of as a sort of evil trust and tightness drill, one evening in Berlin, became a lunar asana.
I could close my eyes, relax into my breath, and simply be held. Even in our stillness, there was movement.
My base bent his knees, performing slow and steady presses, stretching his legs and giving me a relaxing sensation of being gently tossed by the ocean. What had once felt like a marathon became a meditation.
As I was floating in my meditative state, Eszter was across the room practicing reverse star (because, you know, she’s a way better flyer than me). But just like me, she was able to find relaxation and comfort in this asana with only a small but invaluable adjustment: relax your shoulder muscles.
These are only a few of the take aways from our time at the Berlin Urban retreat, where we had the privilege of learning from Lucie Beyer and Jeppe Skovgaard for the first time. We really fed off of their playful energy, and enjoyed connecting with them as well as the other participants in play.
About the Urban Retreat
The theme of this year’s Berlin Urban Acro Retreat 7 was “Hand to hand, heart to heart”. We loved being able to connect with hands, hearts, feet, and minds in a new place with new friends. The four day retreat kicked off every morning with a morning yoga flow, followed by two intensive acro session. Particularly impressive was Jeppe’s morning yoga session, which managed to both be calming and grounding while encouraging deep and satisfying movement.
Besides turning solar into lunar, and playing extensively with foot to hand and hand to hand, we also worked with washing machines featuring the always exciting crocasana (one of our favorites this summer) and Daniel Scott’s addictive washing machine: “Finding Uranus”
Of course, one of the best benefits of an intensive workshop is coming back home. It is here we can reconnect to our own practice and experiment with our new tools and tips. Stay tuned to facebook and insta to see us playing hand to hand and heart to heart! And if you find yourself near Berlin, check out next year’s Urban Acro Retreat 8, set for next April.