Practice in Action

Tina hovers above the ground, one leg in the aerial hammock; black cat Takeshi stretches in an elegant pose beneath her.

Today I was back in my cabin, stretching my muscles and my imagination, flexing out the holiday stillness, to contemplate what the next aerial yoga class might entail.

I like to allow myself time to play, to be, to hover, clamber, see what happens. I set myself a question. “What is the focus?” Sometimes it comes easily, flows from my body in tandem with the fabric. At other times I have to coax it out, work through a single idea and allow that to lead me to the next. Once a short phrase emerges, I video it. My memory isn’t quite as good as I would like, and I move quickly onto something else. I often find I revisit past actions, but they appear anew.

It was exciting to throw open the doors to the damp but drying air, allowing the cattens (they’re not quite cats, but have certainly grown beyond true kittenhood) to enter at will. Takeshi even jumped on board as I swung back and forth. I opened the fabric behind me, taking time to enjoy the snuggles. Ten days in a cattery-cage has left him hungry for cuddles. I approve.

“Ouch!”

Retho has made her presence known too. I am so careful with my fabrics. “NO ZIPS ALLOWED!!” I say again and again in preparation to class. But the lush turquoise that embraces Takeshi and me are for me alone. It is only my sweat that soaks the strands, my cattens’ claws that threaten to shred its strength away. There’s something childlike, naughty, in disobeying my hard-and-fast rules. My bottom, rudely poked by her extra-sharp talons reminds me she must not be ignored!

As the cattens grow bored and set out on another feline adventure, I consider my plentiful options. Attending this year’s European Aerial Dance Festival, I at last had the chance to experience Ana Prada’s Vayu Aerial Yoga. I enjoyed so much of it that am contemplating her teacher training programme. It would, I think, complement my own style.

What I particularly liked was being able to adjust the fabrics mid-session. Always keen to fine-tune the accessibility of my classes, I bought a pair of her (expensive) links to play with. I couldn’t help but think there was a simpler, and more cost effective way of doing the same thing. Using links and slings I already had, I mis-matched one of hers to one of mine. They worked the same; only mine are easier to operate with the type of fabric I have. Bonus! I quickly ordered more slings from Rigging Services, that will arrive in time for next week’s classes.

I lower the fabrics. “How can we guide ourselves to the floor?” I lean back, luxuriating in an arch, allow my weight to lift marginally from the feet and slide forwards, descending gracefully.

I (re)create three short phrases. They are drawn from teachings I’ve already offered, but being able to adjust the fabric height so particularly allows them to shift in focus, giving more or less height as desired, facilitating greater or lesser contact with the floor in equal measure. I am no Danilo de Campos Pacheco. I am no Jill Franklin or Erin Ball. My dramatic aerial skills exist in a past life now, but I am (usually) content with that. I play, I create, I offer, I share. Sometimes we just have to be happy enough with that.

So the first few phrases are recovered. There is plenty more to play with. I borrow from my own past, from courses I’ve attended, books I’ve read, videos I’ve enjoyed, the ether I’ve lived through. When Monday night’s class participants arrive, I will be ready to share whatever it is that has been concluded by then.

It is after all, simply part of a process, a practice, a way of being.

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