"Stop. Before we do anything else, we need to build trust with a hug."
I nervously giggled and we hugged.
"No, stop patting each other on the back. This is a hug."
We hugged a second time, and I resisted the urge to pat. Instead, my hand reverted to a light rub.
This was the first time I had ever tried AcroYoga, and was lucky enough to have Dylan Werner as my base.
Dylan Werner is an incredibly accomplished yogi, and over the past few months of working with his material, I knew he could perform superhuman feats of strength such as planche push-ups without breaking a sweat.
I was in good hands. It would not be difficult (I thought) to trust him as my base.
That all went out the window when we actually started the AcroYoga practice. He placed his feet on my hips, and instructed me to lean forward.
I leaned forward a few inches, and promptly shrieked in fear.
Mind you, at this point, I was still standing on my own two feet. This is when I realized the AcroYoga practice was not so much a practice of Yoga, but a practice of trust -- both within Dylan, and within myself.
Many people pride themselves on being distrustful, on building up impassable walls that only one or two people in their lifetime will manage to break through. These folks remind me of Alastor Moody, unable to trust the pumpkin juice at Hogwarts, taking swigs from their private flasks, making "Constant vigilance!" their personal motto.
But let's be real for a moment: Constant vigilance is fucking exhausting.
There's a saying in yoga: Finding balance in the physical will help you find balance in the mental. I believe the same is true for trust.
Finding trust in the physical will help you find trust in the mental. And that's what AcroYoga allowed me to do.
We constantly talk about trust as something that's "built", but really, trust is more about breaking down & letting go. Trust lets our minds relax. With trust, you don't need to worry if you fall, because you know someone will catch you. Without trust, we live in constant tension; always anticipating the sidewalk to fall out from under our feet is no way to live.
To practice letting go physically is to practice letting go mentally.
My AcroYoga session with Dylan ended with me precariously balanced on his feet, in an upside-down wheel pose.
"How does this feel? Relaxing?" he prompted, while rubbing my shoulders with his hands, "AcroYoga is supposed to be therapeutic."
Dylan was right. Despite being upside down, body contorted into a circle, I was actually very relaxed (the shoulder rub definitely helped). I had stopped holding on for dear life, and instead, trusted that Dylan wouldn't drop me on my head.
Walking away from the practice, it astounded me how easy it was for me to develop complete trust in this man I had met only an hour before.
Trust is like any other skill -- be it math, a musical instrument, or yoga -- it becomes easier with practice. And how often do we actively practice trusting others? Probably not too often. But it's something that can make your life -- and potentially the world -- a much better place.
So for those who have difficulty placing your trust in yourself: Is this how you want to move through the world? Let go of your self-doubt and don't be afraid to fall -- someone will always be there to catch you, even if it's just yourself.
For those who are currently working through trust issues in their personal relationships: Have you practiced a trust fall recently? Maybe you need to get your butts into an Acro class for some couples therapy.