Lessons From Acroyoga...

Disclaimer:  I am no expert in acroyoga nor in relationships.  These were just my humble observations and what I gathered from this creative form of play...

1.  Choose your friends and your partners wisely.
     They will either uplift you and support you, or they will drop you- leaving you vulnerable, injured, fearful and bitter.  Good friends and partners will allow you to feel more grounded, enabling you to challenge your fears head-on as you become your most epic self.

Testing our balance with one hand supporting my body weight.
2.  Communication is key.
     From the moment we started, we were always checking in with each other- "How does this feel?  Can you straighten your legs more?  Is your back feeling ok?  Can you hold this pose longer? I am going to let go of your hand now and grab my leg- should I shift my weight to the left?"  When your safety is in the hands (or feet, in this case) of another human being, it is important to constantly assess and communicate with each other.
    Similarly, it is always important to keep lines of communication open.  Or else someone (or both people) can end up getting hurt.

DIY acroyoga. Start with double downward dog. Pretty much failproof.
3. Start with the easy stuff and work your way up.
    This seems like common sense, but I got really excited and was googling images of these complicated poses.  There were no hard directions, so we had to guess how they even got into those advanced poses.  So we started with something simple- stacked downward dog...then a forward balance, then a backward balance.  Each time we practiced, it became easier as we learned how it should feel, got used to each other's sense of balance, and trusted each other more.
     Just like in sport, a lot of people get really enthusiastic and excited about training for an event.  They have their mind set on completing an event, like a marathon, or a 50K, and go waaay too fast out of the gate and end up getting injured.  They forget about the baby steps and how it takes time to learn technique and for your body to adjust to the new distance or activity.  I'm now back to running 5K distances and building my way back up.  An easy lesson in theory, but difficult for endurance-junkies in practice.

"I'm on a boat!"
(This was the most difficult for me...looks easy, but balancing was very difficult...)
4. But know when to stop.
    I spotted an image of a girl doing bow pose and grabbing both of her feet while balancing on her partner's feet.  Since I could easily grab one foot, why not the other?  As soon as I mentioned it, we both agreed....NO.  Not this time around.  Know your limits and respect where you're at.  There's always next time- like when there's an actual padded mat around and someone to assist your form.

The controlled release. He never EVER dropped me.
5. Sometimes the most subtle shifts can make the biggest difference.
   Doing a backbend on someone's feet was a new experience for me.  We had no spotter and a hardwood floor.  I was scared I would overarch and end up falling backwards.  But with good communication, I learned that shifting my weight back actually was more comfortable for both of us.  It gave my partner more stability in holding me.  Relaxing and breathing in the pose, versus fighting it, surprisingly allowed the movements to feel more effortless.  Learn to let go.  Breathe.  These subtle shifts can dramatically change your comfort and your practice.
   Likewise, sometimes subtle conversations can shift your entire outlook on a situation.  This morning, I was ready to throw in the towel for my 2013 triathlon season.  But after a good phone call with my coach, my perspective has changed, my attitude is much more positive, and I feel more understood as an athlete and as a person.  Good people who not only hear you, but listen to you.  There is a subtlety in this, but being the recipient of a good listener, I can assure you, it makes the biggest difference.  And tomorrow my off-season officially ends.  :)

6.  You can't judge a book by its cover.
   My partner has yet to appear on a book cover, but he has appeared in TV commercials and print ads.  He's not really a 'yogi' by trade, but he has a strong core and a good heart.  He is an artist at heart (aren't we all?), and his creativity is manifested through furniture design...

Love this! My souvenir for the night for not cracking my head open.
A month ago, I had no idea that my fellow colleague was also training for an Ironman.  Turns out she has some acroyoga moves in her too!  Lesson here: You never know what hidden talents people have.  We are surrounded by beautiful individuals and we have so much to share with each other....

Cammy and I in downward dog, following the Debbie Downer 49ers loss.
Don't make the mistake of categorizing an individual just by the way they look.  You never know who you may be double downward dogging with! 

Get out there.  Don't be afraid to try something new.  Life is meant to be experienced, tasted, felt, and grasped.  Today I did my first barre-fusion ballet class, followed by a pilates class.  You can bet my muscles were shaking!  Only by stepping outside of our comfort zones do we grow...we were not made to merely exist, but to thrive and create and BE...

Wishing you all the courage to follow your inner child...

(Huge huge photo cred to Raleigh, his fish-eye lens, and his crazy Cuban stories.  Thanks, bro!  And also to Nate the Great, who patiently continued to play photographer as we were yelling at him to use the flash and move the table...all while in our downward dog pose.  You rock. You also married a rockstar. #fitting)