5 tips to work on your Communication in AcroYoga
Do you every wonder why are so many of us are ill-equipped when it comes to using our words to communicate? Especially when it comes to communication in AcroYoga?
Of all the skills we have developed, language is one of the most recent. Our hominin ancestors walked(1) and were able to use stone tools(2) for over 3 million years. The use of complex language though is dated to 30,000 – 150,000 years ago… that’s just a blink of an eye in our evolution.
Yet still, of the various communication channels open to us (e.g. body language, facial expressions etc…) words are often what we cling to the most when interacting with our partner. Especially in situations that feel dangerous!
As stress-hormones are released, self-defence mechanisms are activated and an „older“ area of the brain, the limbic system „takes over“,(3) this one is driven by our emotions. Therefore, it’s no wonder why we sometimes snap something along the lines of: LET ME DOWN!
We simply don’t manage to stay calm and polite. At least not at first. As with all things, communicating while under stress is a skill that we can train.
If this has happened to you, then check out these 5 tips:
1. Don‘t be so thin-skinned
A person’s choice of words whilst under stress, or while afraid is driven by an ancient self-defence mechanism, understanding this helps us to be more humble & patient with our partner. The person experiencing fear longs for someone who is grounded and who can empathise with what we’re feeling.
“Be not disturbed at being misunderstood; be disturbed rather at not being understanding.”
Practice taking a moment before responding to words spoken from such a place and being there for the other, rather than promoting your own hurt in response. Because there really is no reason to feel hurt.
2. Understand what the other is going through
This we mean as literally as possible. Do you dare to try your partners role?… Flying something on someone’s wobbly arms or legs, often whilst upside down or moving at speed? Being responsible for carrying someone, through a difficult movement that taxes your balance, co-ordination & strength?
Yes, both of these can be freaking scary! Even if you can’t base or fly the full trick, there are at least ways to attempt a variant which might give you an inkling of what the other is feeling in that moment.
3. Practice non-violent communication
Non-violent communication is a method for building trust and encourages cooperation. It’s useful in daily life, at work and especially for communication in AcroYoga.
Communication is a bit more nuanced than just talking and hearing what the other person says. (4)
The core of it is formed by active listening. You are encouraged to pay attention to more than just the words said, but also the feelings and needs of your partner. The theory is based on the idea that static language makes it impossible to describe the complexity of a situation and also that subjective observations can lead to a vicious cycle of blaming the other person, feeling defensive & responding with blame. The short version of how to approach it is:
- First, share your observation and feeling. For example: we are always falling to the left at that point in the trick, it makes me feel scared. I don’t want to get hurt.
- Second, make a request while emphasizing that it is not the others fault. Such as: is there any way we can make it more stable? Do you need anything from me to help?
Test your knowledge, which of the below sentences do you think will assist in co-operation and a good feeling at training:
Flyer’s case: You can’t keep your chest up in bird, you keep diving down towards the base.
A) I just can’t do it! You have to straighten your arms!
B) I am afraid when my upper body drops down like that… Could you straighten your arms to help me?
Base’s case: Your legs keep falling sideways, but you don’t know why.
A) It’s difficult holding the weight in the center, what can we do to make it more stable?
B) I can’t keep my legs there! Can’t you just stay in the center?
Not that hard right? 😜
4. Reflect on your training
What went well? What can we do better? These are two questions that help to improve your training sessions, both skill wise and – most importantly – experience wise. Even though we are trying to learn more; a new trick, or to smooth out one we already know, it should also be our focus to make training a pleasurable pastime!
AcroYoga offers so many possibilities to connect, be playful and to feel free – so remember to also focus on these aspects when it comes to your evaluation of how the session went… Perhaps a third question, what did you enjoy?
5. Agree on a set of rules
In the end all talking is useless unless put into action. Discuss guidelines on how you’d both like to structure your training, and how to communicate while you’re training. This helps to focus your training sessions. But most importantly, it helps you to be your own teacher. As teachers, we provide the foundation… We can show you how to practice safely, the basic techniques of a trick and give advice on how to structure your own training.
Ultimately though, our aim is to help you to become an independent practitioner, so that you can share your Acro Adventures with the world!
Summing it all up:
Finding the right words in any moment is challenging, especially under extreme situations. So it’s worth working on improving your communication in AcroYoga. The skills you gain will benefit your relationships in both training and everyday life.
These are the main points we focussed on today:
Generally: Use non-violent communication; Reflect on your training sessions; Agree on rules to guide your training & communication; Understand why we snap & offer support instead of react.
Acro-love & hugs,
Tomas & Marie xo
We sincerely hope that this article provided you with useful information that you can put into action. If you have any feedback, personal experiences or questions, feel free to leave a comment.