The other night I learned a little bit more about communication in relationships when my partner and I went to an acro yoga date night at our local yoga studio.
Acro yoga is short for acrobatic yoga and is also sometimes called partner yoga because it is designed for two people. Typically one person acts as a “base” and provides support to let their partner “fly.” At the event we attended, there was also stretching and some fun partner games.
It was two hours long, and everyone there was able to learn enough of the basics to have a good time. Our acro yoga experience was fun, playful, and physically engaging; all great qualities for a date night.
Acro yoga as relationship metaphor
It occurred to me as I looked around the room that I was seeing relationship dynamics in action all around me. Acro yoga was providing a metaphorical insight into the essence of each couple’s lives together.
It’s been said that how we do something is how we do everything, and an activity like acro yoga will often reveal the something we do that affects the everything we do, especially in relationship with our partner.
“We need better communication tools” is the refrain I hear daily from the struggling couples who call me for help. Partner yoga is all about communication, and it provides a format for practicing communication in an unfamiliar and neutral environment.
Acro-yoga requires qualities like trust, connection, surrender, leadership, collaboration, negotiation and personal responsibility. There’s a give/take sense of leading and following, of giving and receiving. A partner yoga class like the one we attended could very likely help someone see firsthand where they struggle with trust or other important areas of relationship, including –
- Asking for what they want or making requests
- Offering (or receiving) support
- Working co-operatively
- Dealing with frustration or failure
- Tendencies to blame, shame, withdraw, or give up
If we’re able to use an experience like acro yoga (certainly there are many other experiences as well) to look at ourselves and our relationship, we might also be able to use it to work on ourselves and our relationship dynamic. The context of an acro yoga date night offers a possibility to first see things differently, and then to do things differently.
If the communication isn’t working there on the yoga mat, you’ll know quickly. Then you can use the space as a playground or laboratory to experiment with new approaches. It’s a relatively low-stakes situation, but it’s also visceral, immediate, embodied. You’re literally holding each other up. It demands your attention.
I’m not the only one who recognizes the partner communication benefits of acro yoga. I noticed that our teacher Katie Thacker was quoted in the news –
“Just being able to say ‘hey that doesn’t feel good or that feels really great, or can you please bring me down?’ Being able to express things in those ways helps build communication.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Our teachers Katie Thacker and Brandon Sherbrook were great, and they offer their acro yoga date nights around Victoria and Vancouver Island (see their website here). If acro yoga holds any interest for you, look for classes in your area!
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