There is a condition in acroyoga that i absolutely despise. It only shows up when two or more people work together. It pops up, takes over, and wreaks the most havoc it can on everyone involved. Whether in couples, teams, or friends, it is one of the strongest ways to destroy a good connection. And it is called mywaying.
Once I was at an acroyoga jam playing with a relatively new flyer. After a few failed attempts at ninja star (which she said she can easily do) she got a bit frustrated with me and said “I could easily do it with (base)”. I found out that she “did it easily but didn’t really know what she did” and that “(base) just put me up and spun me around and that was ninja star”. Poor flyer. She had just been used and abused by a mywayer. What’s worse is that she even thought she gained something from it!
What is mywaying? It’s when someone in a cooperative team forgets that there is another consciousness at work besides their own. And usually, the mywayers prioritize their needs and wants, while neglecting anyone else’s.
As a teacher, it pisses me off to witness any victim of mywaying. Even worse is finding a student who has been misled and used as an object by a mywaying teacher. And worst of the worst is seeing someone get hurt because of a mywaying partner! So i started consciously developing my practice to incorporate (and eventually teach) qualities that help avoid mywaying, and it has actually made my practice (with anyone, but specially with my life partner) safer, more fun and a lot easier!
Take it Nice and Slow (Baby tell me what you wanna do)
I’d like to talk about the “next” attitude. There are way too many people in acro whose main incentive is nailing the next trick. Excitement and drive is great, but when all we want is executing the trick, we get impatient with learning and frustrated when it gets hard. This impatience usually brings out pressure, the blame game, or insecurities from one or both partners.
Giving more value to acroyoga as a practice saves us from this 100mph learning. There is so much more to gain by having a more mindful acroyoga practice. Besides the obvious physical gains, there is sensitivity, communication, and a deeper understanding of relationship to be learned from acroyoga. Knowing that there is value in slowing down and refining (and even redefining) results in more patience towards yourself and your partner. Next time you find yourself frustrated and impatient in acro, ask: What else can we work on to make this more accessible or steadier? And why am i in such a damn hurry to nail this pose?!
Of course even with patience and an open mind to the value of acroyoga as a practice, there are still other things that can cause mywaying. One notorious reason is how people tend to expect. That brings us to the next value of a great partner practice.
There is no i in acroyoga
In acro(and relationships), it will surprise you how your perspective will change when you constantly try to remember that you are always working with someone else. Why is this important? Because from there follows the fact that there is a whole other factor that you cannot absolutely know. It’s just not possible unless you are playing with yourself! (Get a room :P) So all assumptions and expectations have to be traded in for sensitivity and cooperative action.
I ask three things from a partnership: mutual respect, an agreed intention and constant communication. Each individual is aware of respective roles and responsibilities. From there action is done with sensitivity and free flowing communication to reach the intention (or pose in acro).
So how is intention different from expectation? With expectation, if the goal is not reached, someone messed up. With intention, if the goal is not reached, the partnership makes adjustments together to reach the goal. The focus is on the common choice to keep working to change for the better. Even if it means doing an easier progression or looking for a different approach, the choice is to keep moving forward instead of stalling and letting frustration or ego (or mywaying) take control.
This does not mean that control should always be equal. It changes from person to person. There will be the bossy flyers or bases, and there will be the subservient counterparts (why isn’t that as popular as the bossies?) But that is what makes partnerships awesome: someone for everyone. Talk, agree, and act together. If your practice has no sensitivity and no cooperative action (and probably lots of mywaying), then you don’t need a partner. You need a prop.
What better place than here, what better time than now
It is hard to keep partnership or patience if we aren’t present at the critical moments. Hindsight is 20/20 but limited to damage control or recovery. Too much forward-thinking leads to expectation and disconnect to what is actually happening. In acroyoga, the balance point (or stack) is the easiest place to work from. So we have to balance hindsight and forward-thinking to reach this amazing place of ease: presence.
Acro calls for intense presence. The focus needed to simultaneously maintain form, stack and alignment make thinking too forward or back very difficult (and dangerous!). What’s challenging is maintaining presence specially as we get further in the practice. Every once in a while I hear “it’s what I am used to doing”. Sometimes I even catch myself saying it! We get so used to something it becomes automatic, regardless of whether it works or not. Not being aware of these autopilot actions take us out of being present in the practice, and when fueled by ego can lead to really bad cases of mywaying.
Being present also provides a solution to the issue of working with a separate consciousness. Even though we cannot predict or absolutely know how the person on the other side works, we can feel and listen for what they can communicate to us in the present moment. We can see when they get scared instead of assuming we know what will scare them. We can take note if and where they feel strong instead of telling them where they should feel strong. Staying present, with strong communication, is how two separate consciousness merge to work as one, resulting in a completely whole partnership.(and a truly badass acro team)
Acroyoga is a practice that is essentially a physical practice of relationship. So it makes it one of the simplest ways to understand and adjust how mywaying affects any partner practice we have. If anybody noticed, i even use the words acro practice, partnership and relationship interchangeably in this article. Let’s admit it, relationships are also partner practices just as much as acro is! As a devout acroyogi, It is so wonderful to discover, practice and share not only amazing tricks or poses, but also all the intangible lessons and qualities they bring. So now i take my own advice and exercise partnership with the whole partner practice community (YOU :D): Have you been a mywaying victim
(or culprit)? Tell me about your practice by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s see what we’ve got!