The Forgotten Fly
There is a forgotten person, a sort of fly on the wall, who is absolutely integral to the acro experience. This person practically makes the magic happen. It is because of this person that flyers can achieve lofty heights and bases can be as sturdy as concrete columns. It is because of this person that acro yogis can come out of intense practices practically unscathed.
If you are an acro practitioner, you've probably already guess who I am talking about. But if you are not, you may have never thought of this person and his important role within acro practice.
The spotter is often left out of the photos and almost never appears on stage. This is the ultimate deception. In most cases, at least in the case of wise and wary practitioners, those photos, videos or performances could not be possible without the presence of a spotter in the initial stages of practice.
Spotters do more than just catch someone when they fall. Spotters often carry part of the flyers weight, help move the flyers and base into appropriate positions and can support the base to add to their strength and stability. There are many overly-eager and ego-driven practitioners who unwisely refuse the help of spotters with the idea that spotters slow down the learning process. I disagree with this logic and have heard similar views from much more experienced acro yogis than I.
In most cases, finding the strength to complete a pose or transition comes second to learning the technique behind that pose or transition. This is where the spotter can help. She can help the base or flyer find that correct movement so that they can learn how it feels to complete a move without having to fully achieve that strength or flexibility. Learning technique in this way creates a comfortable foundation to grow from.
At Acrogasm festival in Austin, TX, the instructors expressed the importance of spotters over and over again. I really appreciated that they showed us ways in which the spotter can be actively involved in practically every move. At the end of each session they asked us to thank our spotters TWICE.
So, if you find acro yoga intimidating, know that you can have someone there to support, protect and lead you every step of the way.
And if you are a practitioner, GO THANK YOUR SPOTTERS. And learn to be the best spotter you can be. AND GO THANK YOUR SPOTTERS.