5 Tips for Flying
Similarly to basing (or any movement practice), there are a lot of tips you can employ to improve your flying, depending on where you are in your practice.
Here are OUR top 5 tips for flyers to continuously focus on, with the intention of improving across all of their practice. Once again, we want to emphasise that these are OUR tips and they are in line with our acro philosophy. We know everyone develops their own way of doing things so these tips are not meant to be universal but more of a guide to what works for us.
1. CoM Control
What does this mean? CoM is short for centre of mass.
It is an imagined point in space that can exist inside or outisde the flyer's body, depending on their shape. A flyer is in balance when their CoM is directly above the WBpoc (weight bearing point of contact) with the base. If a flyer is balanced on one point of contact, moving an arm will change the location of their CoM and the flyer might no longer be in balance (we call this falling).
We encourage you to improve your awareness of your centre of mass in relation to your main WBpoc.
Centre of mass directly over
weight bearing point of contact
When balancing, try to react as early and softly as possible, it will make your acro less demanding (fast, sudden movements will feel like you are fighting with your base). The lighter approach will allow you to release the hands (/stabilising points of contact) without the system changing, or falling apart completely. You probably figured out by now we really like hands free acro.
When transitioning from one pose to the next, focus on transferring your CoM from one WBpoc to another, slowly and continuously, frame by frame, as if you intended to freeze in space at any moment. This is one of the main aspects of controlled acro.
2. Wait for your base
There comes a point in your acro practice where (as a flyer) you learn to move into points of contact that you can’t see and where you have no spatial reference (you are lost), yet you still manage to do it. In fact, it becomes a reflex. Now it is time to refine that reflex into a conscious choice. This tip is crucial if you want to make your hands free transitions controlled and effortless.
Instead of dumping weight onto the next point of contact the moment you feel it, wait for your base to get (what they think is) a good placement on your body. It might not be the best, it might be uncomfortable to hold, however (provided it is not injuring you) stick it out. Giving your base time will ultimately result in them having more understanding of: the move, the foot (or hand) placement and how to make it comfortable for you. It will also allow them to make adjustments without disturbing the whole system.
3. Don’t snake, extend (reach) instead
When transitioning from one pose to another, some flyers have a tendency to snake the spine. When snaking happens it becomes difficult to control your CoM and make small subtle adjustments. Instead we encourage flyers to try to extend their torso during transitions. This helps you hold muscle engagement in a very efficient and applicable way. Imagine standing in a shop aisle reaching for an item on a shelf that is just out of your grasp, you extend your body without (consciously) squeezing your muscles, yet they become engaged, rigid and most importantly, malleable. This is the ideal “body setting” for smooth, ergonomic, effortless acro transitions.
Easy and comfortable to deal with.
Difficult and uncomfortable to deal with.
4. Look where you are going
As a flyer it is so easy to become disoriented when transitioning. Having a a point of focus helps the flyer to become more aware of the position of their body in space. This point of focus can be anywhere in your (potential) field of vision. If possible, find a point roughly where your gaze will be, post transition. This way you have a reference point to align your body to the final pose.
5 . Anchoring (combined with extension in side star)
Oh side star. So painful, so uncomfortable, so bloody tricky. How can we make this better? As with most movements, nothing beats repetition. So make sure you throw in a healthy dose of daily side star practice paying particular attention to anchoring combined with extension.
Bringing the bottom leg down in the direction of the base’s ribs.
Reaching with the lower side of the torso.
These techniques are two ways (of many) in which you can balance as a flyer in side star (in particular, hands free side star). Anchoring brings your leg to the ground & extension brings your torso down, the right amount of both will hold the side star nicely.
When: in side star, transitioning into side star, and transitioning out of side star; anchoring in particular, is a phenomenal tool to balance with. It will adjust your hips and in turn your CoM.
There we have it, our top 5 tips for flyers to focus on when training. They are based on how we like to acro, and they give us an energy efficient practice with maximum comfort for the base and flyer.
We hope they help you too, enjoy.
Natalia & Joshua
P.S. check out our 5 Tips for Basing & 5 Tips for Being a Terrible Spotter articles.
Images 2 & 3 are taken from the Top 5 Tips For Flying - AcroYoga video.
Images 1, 4 & 5 are taken from the Tick Tock Hands Free - AcroYoga video.