Sunday Times (Sri Lanka)
Getting their act together
Stuck in Sri Lanka from the time of the lockdown Danny Casey and Siler Head took to sharing their passion of acro yoga with others
Danny Casey had had a long winter. Like so many vacationers snuggled in the warmth of the Southern coast, by the middle of March he found himself under lockdown. It seemed an ordeal.
Yet three months on, Danny is grateful that he was in Sri Lanka when the pandemic struck. It is his parents in London he feels sorry about. All the holidaying birds of passage pocketed down the coast- looked to enliven their routine once the strict lockdown was over.
The community shared their passions, teaching each other such esoteric pastimes as dancing to yin yoga- passing through kirtan (Hindu devotional music), vinyasa yoga, ayurveda, hip-hop dance, pranayama, volleyball and circuit training.
They would take over someone’s garden for an evening. Danny and his friend Siler Head were billed as acroyoga gurus in Danny’s house in Midigama.
Both in their mid-20s, Danny and Siler are sannyasis of sorts. Danny has been learning Buddhist meditation at Nilambe- while Siler walks the world to the strains of his music and his yoga.
Acro-yoga is a new form of yoga which is “like apartment gymnastics” says Siler. It usually takes three peoplethe ‘base’ who usually lies on the ground, the ‘flyer’ who is held up in the air by the base and the ‘spotter’ who stays vigilant for safety’s sake (this being a somewhat injury-prone art).
‘Bone-stacking’ and balance are at the heart of it. Siler explains that the two people form “one straight line of energy: for example (in one pose) the base’s elbows will be on the ground; his wrists on his elbows and the flyer’s heels on those wrists”.
It is an art with all the grace of ballet, and just like yoga asanas, has poses that range from simple static poses named bird, whale and throne to “Icarian Pops” (where the flyer is thrown up in the air and caught again).
“It’s all about trust and communication between the two people. You have to communicate not only with your mouth but with your body too. If I am on the ground and I am holding someone up with my feet- I have to let them know that I am going to change the weight in the right foot now because I can no longer support them otherwise.”
Danny explains that it is a great exercise for the ego- “surrendering to the other person and letting them take the lead; knowing when you need to say ‘ok I know this is what needs to happen right now if we are going to maintain a successful flow’.”
The difficult poses are achieved with some simple basics: “lots of eye contact, establishing touch- and just getting loose.”
The benefits are for life: acroyoga is a very effective form of couple therapy which fosters quick friendships and builds trust between people. It also sharpens communication skills and brings to light what may be wrong with the way we handle our relationshipsthe acrobatic performance reflecting where we fail in interaction.
For Danny and Siler, their time with acroyoga, the classes, and the feedback from participants have been greatly rewarding. As globetrotters they maintain that the art “is a good analogy for global citizenship: an effective way to knock the language barrier- and really connect with people on a human level.”