A new edge. A new opportunity.
AcroYoga is important to me. It is neither only a hobby, nor just a fun way to play with friends and meet new people. It is one of my favorite means of embodiment. One of my greatest challenges - and thus one of the most amazing opportunities for learning and growth I have come to know in my life.
It gives me the chance to learn about myself in ways I might otherwise be resistant to. It teaches me to listen - to the people I am practicing with, as well as my own body.
To be present in the current moment. To trust myself and place my trust in others.
To fall and laugh about it and get up to fall some more. Until I don't. Until it feels effortless.
It is a practice that teaches the power of honest, but non-judgmental communication. In myriad ways. In a playful environment.
It affords me the opportunity to register within a split second, when I've stopped sensing my body and instead started to listen to the stories of my mind. Often stories of fear.
It teaches me how to live with fear, and still keep on playing.
The practice of acroyoga means the world to me. Then recently, it took me to a new edge.
While practicing with other acroyogi(ni)is in a park, I fell and hear a very disconcerting *crunch* in my neck, as my head hit the ground. Since I retained consciousness, didn't vomit, was able to breathe and move all limbs and digits, I figured that I didn't need to go to the hospital.
Fast forward about a week.
I was training again, at a retreat, after having been cleared to continue by a doctor. During a training session, I developed a sharp pain in my left arm that lingered on well after I had ceased to move or put weight on it. I had to spend the rest of the retreat sitting at the sideline and battling my bruised ego, which kept trying to scold me for not being 'strong enough'.
Taking the advice of some kind and caring friends, I went to see a specialist when I returned to Berlin. She immediately sent me to get an MRI of my neck. After countless hours spent in doctor's offices and even more hours enduring the continued pain from aggravated nerve structures in my arm (by way of the cervical spine), I finally got a diagnosis. Aparently the fall caused a fracture in a part of my cervical spine, as well as some bruising around it. I keep getting conflicting advice, but basically this means that I shouldn't be doing any acro, or yoga, or using my left arm very much, during the next couple of weeks. Which is incredibly difficult for me, not only because those movement activities are a huge part of my life. My arm is also involved in me writing (the main activity of my job), riding my bicycle, carrying things...
The crux to this story: I was practicing with spotters, when I fell. Spotters is the term used in acroyoga for people whose role it is to ensure the safety of the people practicing a move (usually a base and flyer).
I want to be clear. My intention is not to point fingers or talk about responsibility or blame. Who knows if my spotters could have dones something to prevent the fall. Who knows what I, or my base, could have done differently. I'm not interested in the 'would have'/'should have's. It happened. I got injured. That fact cannot be changed.
What I am interested in, what my intention is in writing about this publicly, is to take this as a learning oportunity.
This injury - and the resulting reprocussions of being forced to stop practicing anything that places weight on my arms or could result in me falling on my head/neck for a couple of weeks - has motivated me.
It has sparked the desire to become the best spotter I can be. To seek out ways of improving my own spotting skills. And - when appropriate - pass those on to others.
Because this situation has caused me to realize that spotting really is an underappreciated art. And a skill that deserves as much attention and honing as basing or flying.
If you've got any spotting drills, send 'em my way! I'm eager to learn and to grow!
Perhaps my story can start a(nother) dialoge about spotting and staying present during acro-playtime. Perhaps it can spark the same eagerness to learn in others as it has in me. Or perhaps it just makes a kick-ass spotter out of me and has no effect on anyone else.
And that would be just as perfect an outcome.
Keeping still for the next couple of weeks will be an incredibly difficult task for me. As odd as that may seem. But I am determined to take this time to learn as much as I can about spotting and to find safe, hands-free and head-safe ways of continuing to move.
Come find me a the next festival (as soon as I've healed) and be part of the journey!