Audrey (Adi Firefly) is a current student in the MBS Foundation Training (graduating in 2019). She is working on projects related to safety in acrobatics, applications of social circus aspects in acroyoga, and developing pedagogical tools in somatics.
“Make the impossible possible, the possible easy, the easy elegant…” – Moshe Feldenkrais
Smiling confidently at the crowd, the acrobat turns, takes her partner’s hands, and launches into the air, twisting dramatically before falling into a perfect handstand on the other woman’s arms. The crowd gasps as she bends her form into impossible shapes five feet off the ground, supported by her partner’s striking show of feminine strength.
Making the impossible possible…
For ages, circus has inspired the capacity to dream the impossible, evoke feelings of awe and wonder, and bring the flavors and colors of the world to one’s doorstep through artistic connection.
More recently, the rise of “acroyoga,” or recreational partner acrobatics mixed with elements from yoga/dance/therapeutics, has brought a form of circus to parks, studios, and even living rooms all around the world. While a solo yoga practice generally focuses on awareness within the individual, I find that acroyoga cultivates connection with self and other, using the vehicle of acrobatics to develop communication, trust, and partnership in a collaborative activity. In this partnership, multiple roles build a team: the base, positioned at the bottom to support the flier; the flier, who is usually held up by the base’s feet and hands; and the spotter, who provides added safety and/or instruction. Through a combination of various transitions, breath and teamwork, acro is a fun way for people to interact socially with the added benefits of exercise.
Acroyoga is hard. Many participants start learning acro with very little movement background. Often, I find beginners struggle to differentiate movements of their arms with movements of their legs (Bend your legs, straighten your arms! Don’t pull your flyer’s head to the ground! No, it’s not necessary to strain your neck and push your head into the ground while you’re straightening your legs…). It is very hard to try and hold a partner off the ground while worrying that they will fall, fighting the instinct to bring the falling person closer to one’s face, and hoping that your squirming flyer isn’t hurt by your feet on their hips while trying to understand what they are asking for. No wonder that it takes a base up to two years to become proficient in this sport! With so many moving parts, lending itself to complex demands on attention, it is often useful to refocus on the basics of why we do this activity: connection.
Since acroyoga at its best involves creating incredibly intimate connections with another individual in a safe, consensual, non-sexual way, it often becomes a vehicle for personal development. Communicating clearly to someone else using “body-speak” requires the ability to simply first connect with yourself in a healthy manner. Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais’ Mind Body Studies (MBS), as taught by MBS Academy, (www.mbsacademy.org), is a powerful tool in this process: at its core, the method provides a way to access and change one’s self-image and identity through movement lessons and reflective processing. It gives me the opportunity to ask the question, “how is my relationship with myself?”
…the possible easy… (revisiting my relationship with myself)
As a gymnast who is used to repetitive drills, strength training exercises and often painful stretching and a “push through the pain” attitude, I used to think that I had to follow a “no pain, no gain” rule, always striving for that perfect handstand line, that flawless execution of a trick. After I attended a Mind Body Studies workshop, I moved with an efficient ease that I had never felt before, and I heard the gentle whisper of “it doesn’t have to be that way, you can do less” come into my reality. I found that MBS gave me and my students a gentler, more accessible way to learn the fundamentals of movement…for everyone, not just athletes and gymnasts.
The lessons at MBS show me how to understand the origin of motion before it even begins, to slow down and really feel the DNA of a movement – to not only understand the what, but the how and the why. I learn to see what people are thinking by watching how they move. I see how I can sense patterns and habits in every movement, whether it is walking, standing, turning, or something as simple as raising and lowering my head. The best part of MBS is that the lessons bring the same feelings of joy in connection and ease of movement that I feel in acrobatics, without the often-strenuous training regimen required for acro! I have found a way to share the freedom of flying without unnecessary tension and striving, a way to explore with curiosity in the absence of perfectionism
.…and the easy elegant
As I find new ways of being with myself, I am starting to feel how I can provide similar opportunities for other athletes and non-athletes. Through a series of questions directed by noticing, sensing and feeling in the body, I ask my fellow students to explore with curiosity. When someone makes discoveries through this somatic questioning process, their “can’t…yet” turns into “yes, I can,” and their self-perception changes. Their body language shifts. They start moving and feeling, seeing and hearing, in different ways. Dr. Feldenkrais’ Mind Body Studies (MBS Academy) is a potent method to develop awareness and effect these transformations in self-image. Why does this matter?
When someone finds that they have the power to learn through self-discovery, they start to sense that they have the potential to direct their own agency. I have seen that as students refine their capacity to learn, they find not only new ways of moving, but new ways of being. As we refine our perception of ourselves, clarifying internal connections, we are able to interact with more sensitivity in our external relationships as well. We discover the gift of self-reliance, increasing our ability to determine what impact and role we want to have within our communities and society. Once we understand the basis of learning, we have the ability within ourselves to realize our true potential.
MBS has fundamentally changed the way I think and feel about acrobatics, and thus, how I move about and interact with the world. As Moshe once said, we now have a basis of learning to “…make the impossible possible, the possible easy, and the easy elegant.”
More about Audrey (Adi Firefly)
I am a current student in the MBS Foundation Training (MBS Academy). I am working on projects related to safety in acrobatics, applications of social circus aspects in acroyoga, and developing pedagogical tools in somatics. My aim is to create community connected through the shared experience of humanity where emotional resilience is taught and built within a social network through the arts. I continue to expand my psychosomatic experiences abroad, creating opportunities for others to nurture themselves through movement and care of their bodies in a holistic manner.
(LINK: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLlxX_N4xl01KJbDlJZbn58L3bympvRQEn) to watch behind-the-scenes videos of Audrey’s acroyoga practice
(LINK: http://www.idefirefly.com/explore-original-flows.html) to watch some of Audrey’s acro discoveries