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Friday, April 12, 2013

The One About Being Greater Than One

It is safe to say I have always been a bit of a lone wolf. While I enjoy the company of my peers when it comes time to work and practice I like to do it on my own. I prefer to be responsible for my own successes or short comings and I am always worried about failing others.  However, some of my recent training has thrown my attitude towards working alone into flux. 
It is about learning to trust yourself and your partner
It started in an attempt to increase my flexibility. I knew improving would mean the lyra and silk routines I was learning more attractive and dramatic. I enrolled in a contortion class in the hopes of, for starters, improving my splits and back bend.

I expected contortion would be similar to a yoga where we stretch in lots of different positions and over time gradually improve our flexibility. What I did not realize is that training with the primary intent of increased flexibility means pushing your body and having others help you into positions you could not reach on your own.
During my first class when I was partnered with a fellow student and then told they would stand on my thighs while I was in butterfly pose and gently push me toward the ground I was terrified. My mind immediately started going through the big list of things that could go wrong. What if I could not support my partner? What if they could not balance on me? What if they pushed too hard?
I already felt like my butterfly was already at the maximum I could achieve and I was touching my head to my feet without assistance.  What did I stand to gain from adding another person to my practice? When the exercise started my partner carefully stepped up and began pushing my back. By checking in with me we reached a point that I felt like was the maximum of the stretch. I proceeded to hold the position for the prescribed 30 seconds and wondering why we were adding the complication of a partner when I was obviously not going to be going any further. Then in the last 10 seconds my body stopped fighting back against the additional steady pressure from my partner and my knees came to the floor and I was able to relax my back into an even flatter position. I was surprised by the additional give my body had when it finally gave in to the added help from my partner. It was something I may never have achieved on my own.
Partnering can add a new dynamic to  your practice
Since starting the contortions class I have had several other opportunities to work with partners and I am becoming increasingly comfortable with relying on to achieve what we could not individually. I plan on writting about some of my favorite partner exercises as I learn so stay tuned if you want to have some fun with your other half. In the mean time tell me how you feel about working with a partner? Have you also found working with others enriching to your process?
Amanda Rebholz captured Karla, of Puppies Breath Blog, and me playing around with some partner acrobatics during our circus photoshoot. 

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