Complicated moves and sequences challenge our bodies and our brains on their own but are not the place to work on the specifics of each movement. Instead we use simple movements to practice and explore the specifics of each individual position, so we can later challenge ourselves by putting them together to form more complicated movements in a safe and maintainable way.
I'd never specifically thought of it that way, yet it made sense to me. In fact the goal of the entire class was to work on individual movements and show a potentially better way to do those movements. The purpose in dance being health. Finding ways to perform dance movements in a way that keeps our bodies healthy and gives longevity in practice, avoiding injury and strain as much as possible. For a professional dancer it makes sense. Yoga, for me, physically has generally been about healing, yet as with any physical practice it can cause the same issues with strain and injury. It makes sense for any form of physical movement, from the dancing to walking down the street.
Lately however I'd been somewhat frustrated. I see other acro teachers, teaching fancy sequences and washing machines, and I want to be able to do the same. I feel like I've assumed the role of "fixer", that people come to me to fix their acro problems as opposed to seeing and doing exciting stuff. Initially I was flattered and I still am. I've received many compliments and praises for helping people figure out acro moves in their bodies. Still I felt like I was missing out on the flash and fun. I wanted to be the cool teacher who showed all of the fun stuff! I could do all those flashy things and more, so why didn't I teach them? Worry about the little things later. Real or not those thoughts were weighing on me. I was questioning my entire teaching method and practicing philosophy.
Yet when I heard the dance teacher discuss her philosophy of movement I realized it was also my own. She was simply coming at it from a different direction. She was working backwards from injury and strain to find a better way, I was beginning with the basics and building a strong base for my student's practices. Both had the same goal, to reduce strain and injury, but also one more added benefit. With a strong base you can much more easily build those complex movements and sequences. Instead of a single sequence it becomes a series of basic moves. The mind and body understand each individual part and all that is left is stitching them all together.
Here I was taking a class in a completely different form of movement with a teacher who spoke to the same values and principles that I try to teach in my own classes. Acro yoga is a yoga of trust and a yoga of community. The trust doesn't simply extend to the other people you work with but also to yourself. You need to be able to trust your mind and your body in order to inspire trust in others. I'd long been told I was a safe base and very easy to trust and its because I trust myself. In my classes I try to teach those same values. So even though it may seem like I'm working slower or not teaching all the fun stuff, I'm building a practice based on a strong foundation for my students. So I can trust them, they can trust each other and most importantly they can trust themselves! Everything in acro is fun to me. The stronger and safer I feel when I work with someone the more fun we both have. The flash and dazzle will come and it will be all the more flashy and dazzily(? I just made up a word! :) ) when it does with a strong, safe and hopefully even more creative with a strong foundation beneath it.