GO WITH THE FLOW, HONEY

For­get reg­u­lar date night ac­tiv­i­ties. A ses­sion of acroyoga will help you and your spouse de­velop trust and a new­found con­nec­tion.

Young Parents (Singapore) - - CONTENTS -

For­get reg­u­lar date night ac­tiv­i­ties. A ses­sion of acroyoga will help you and your spouse de­velop trust and a new­found con­nec­tion.

A cou­ple that sweats to­gether, stays to­gether. That’s what I think when it comes to main­tain­ing a healthy re­la­tion­ship.

Af­ter all, go­ing through a tough or­deal – like ex­er­cis­ing – to­gether has been shown to fos­ter stronger bonds.

It’s been hard, try­ing to nd ac­tiv­i­ties to do with my hus­band over the last few years. We used to do long jogs when we were dat­ing, so as to spend more time in each other’s com­pany.

Af­ter­wards, we would talk about our dreams and such over a hearty meal of prawn mee or char kway teow – the two dishes I craved af­ter a long run.

Af­ter we got mar­ried, those fre­quent jogs were whit­tled down to just once a month, or ev­ery fort­night if we were more free.

Soon, those jogs gave way to evening yoga ses­sions for me and night cy­cles for him. We found new in­ter­ests, and new peo­ple to hang out with, which is a good thing. But our shared time denitely took a hit. And then we had a kid. Since then, my life has largely re­volved around my daugh­ter. Go­ing for an evening run or yoga sesh just can’t over­ride the press­ing need to be with her af­ter a long day at work. I want to catch ev­ery mile­stone I can, and spend as much wak­ing time with her as pos­si­ble, so that she will grow up know­ing her mum is al­ways there for her.

The hubby? I had been ne­glect­ing Gavin for a while. His ex­is­tence kind of faded with a baby in the pic­ture, though ev­ery­one says it’s im­por­tant to still do things as a cou­ple to keep the mar­riage alive.

We had just cel­e­brated our eighth year to­gether, with noth­ing more than an ex­change of gifts and kiss on the lips. Then this hap­pened. I was asked to try out acroyoga with my hus­band for a story. Do­ing yoga poses in mid-air with some­one sup­port­ing you sounded fun, so I said yes.

Sur­pris­ingly, my risk-averse hubby agreed with­out ques­tion.

You can count on me

We turned up at The Yoga Man­dala, a yoga teacher train­ing academy that also of­fers yoga classes to the pub­lic. Our in­struc­tor was Jes­sica Sin­clair, co-founder of the stu­dio. She’s one of the few in Sin­ga­pore who’s certied to teach acrovinyasa – that is, acroyoga done in a ow­ing se­quence that’s typ­i­cal of vinyasa style.

Cur­rently, acrovinyasa classes are held on Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day evenings at The Yoga Man­dala.

“Acroyoga is es­sen­tially about tak­ing the prac­tice from earth to air. Be­sides core strength, it’s a lot about trust­ing and com­mu­ni­cat­ing with each other,” Jes­sica ex­plained.

Gulp. Could I trust Gavin to sup­port my weight? Even af­ter be­ing to­gether for so long, we still en­counter many in­stances of mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion that lead to ar­gu­ments. Would we sur­vive acroyoga?

Jes­sica led us through warm-up ex­er­cises to stretch our wrists, quads, lower back and ham­strings. Ba­sic yoga poses like for­ward fold, lo­cust and plank were in­cluded as well.

And then it was show­time. “It’s go­ing to be easy, don’t worry! All my stu­dents have been able to do at least one pose in 15 min­utes,” Jes­sica said when she saw me ex­chang­ing pan­icked looks with Gavin.

In acroyoga, there are three roles: base, yer and spot­ter. The base lies on the ground, sup­port­ing the yer who needs to bal­ance. The spot­ter guides the base and yer to adopt good form, and makes sure the yer lands safely in case of a slip.

Typ­i­cally, the larger-sized per­son takes the base po­si­tion while the lighter one is the yer.

First pose on the list: Front bird, where the yer is in plank pose, sup­ported by the base’s arms and legs.

Jes­sica demon­strated by be­ing the base and me as the yer. I was to clasp her out­stretched hands in a rm lock. She then po­si­tioned her feet on my pelvic points, and asked me to lean to­wards her.

With­out inch­ing, she moved her feet to­wards the ceil­ing, tak­ing my weight with her. In­stinc­tively, I en­gaged my ab­domen, lower back and glutes to hold my­self to­gether. Point­ing toes helps, as it ac­ti­vates the thighs and im­proves sta­bil­ity.

When it was Gavin’s turn to repli­cate the move, my palms started sweat­ing. There he was, the love of my life, about to give me a lift that could make or break my life. I prayed, and sent him men­tal mes­sages to give it his best shot.

Plac­ing his feet on the right part of my body was cru­cial. Too high and I would be in pain, pos­si­bly spurt­ing out the con­tents of my stom­ach. Too low and he would lose the pivot point, which means I would fall eas­ily.

We tried a few times be­fore get­ting the hang of it. Then came the bal­anc­ing part.

As Gavin lifted me off the ground, we were a bunch of wob­bly limbs. One mo­ment I was lean­ing too much into his hands; the next, my body was tilt­ing back­wards,

threat­en­ing to slide off. Thank good­ness for Jes­sica, who was con­stantly by my side to lend sup­port.

What was go­ing on?

We need to talk

As I found out, com­mu­ni­ca­tion is key. When­ever Gavin slightly pointed or exed his toes, I felt my weight shift­ing dras­ti­cally. And when he didn’t fully ex­tend his arms to sup­port mine, I felt like I was crash­ing onto him.

Jes­sica taught me to say “more toes” if I wanted him to ex his feet, and “less toes” if I wanted him to point his feet. For acroyoga to work out, we had to talk.

Stack­ing, an acroyoga term that refers to the align­ment of bones, is cru­cial to en­sure good bal­ance in acroyoga. That’s also why some yo­gis like Jes­sica are able to base men who are more than dou­ble her weight.

Once his limbs were in an op­ti­mal po­si­tion, ev­ery­thing fell into place. I could even re­lease my hands, in a free bird pose!

I felt em­pow­ered to try more poses – with Jes­sica around, of course. It’s not ad­vis­able for new­bies to do acroyoga with­out an ex­pe­ri­enced spot­ter.

The next chal­lenge: Shin-to-moun­tain pose. From the front bird pose, I would have to shift weight and place my feet – one by one – on Gavin’s shins to get into a stand­ing po­si­tion. That turned out eas­ier than ex­pected, with me talk­ing him through it.

It sounded some­thing like this: “I’m go­ing to shift weight to my right rst, and step with my left foot. Okay. Now for the other side.”

There was no room for mis­un­der­stand­ing. One wrong move and I stood a high chance of top­pling or hurt­ing my­self.

When his knees started to spread out, I found my­self say­ing calmly: “Bring your knees closer to­gether. Yes, that’s good.”

That did the trick. Hubby quickly obliged, stay­ing as still as pos­si­ble to keep me sta­ble.

The rest of the ses­sion went on smoothly, as we learnt to adapt to each other’s bod­ies, un­der­stand­ing our mus­cu­lar im­bal­ances and mov­ing in har­mony.

In Gavin’s words: “Acroyoga sounded in­tim­i­dat­ing at rst, but I quickly re­alised it’s about giv­ing and re­ceiv­ing. With ev­ery move, your part­ner’s body re­acts and adapts.

“As the base, it’s im­por­tant to pro­vide both sta­bil­ity and as­sur­ance to the yer. We de­vel­oped a new­found con­nec­tion, both phys­i­cally and men­tally, plus a new level of in­ter­de­pen­dence and trust.”

Now, if one ses­sion of acroyoga could make us so ap­pre­cia­tive and open to­wards each other, imag­ine what won­ders it would do for our re­la­tion­ship if we prac­tised reg­u­larly!

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