In the past week I’ve successfully been suspended twice. By “successful” I mean I went up and I came down and there were no injuries. I lasted somewhere between 10 and 20 seconds up each time.
Have I suddenly learned to love suspension?
Naaaah. I wouldn’t say I love it. I still prefer being down on the ground, for the most part. Though I do love me a partial…
But I trust the two people who I’m allowing to practice their suspension skills on me, because they’ve invested a considerable amount of time learning from reputable and respected rope teachers in our community. And when I mean a considerable amount of time, I don’t mean a half-day class and some at-home practice.
I mean hours spent in monthly supervised instruction followed by practice followed by supervised approval that they’d picked up the appropriate skills and technique before moving forward.
I’ll say this: sitting through the class where they learned safety and technique for their first suspension (a side suspension) helped me a lot as one of the people putting my body on the line for this endeavor. I was able to understand with more clarity why certain things are positioned in certain ways or in certain places in order to maximize safety (and comfort…which is minimally maximized in a suspension to begin with) of the bottom.
I’ve sat through one-off rope instruction as a bottom before. They teach how to tie the knot, which I don’t pick up very easily. I’ve tried to follow the steps but I lose them as soon as it’s over. So, generally, when I’ve been the bottom in a class before this, I’ve not taken away much from it other than the wonderful sensation of being tied.
But, in these classes, I am learning too – especially from the instructor who teaches from the bottom position – on which ways to position my leg, for example, for the best results in a well-tensioned thigh cuff. I also was able to better understand what areas I should feel the pressure in, and whether or not there’s a need to panic if my fingers go tingly.
Little by little, I’m becoming more able to articulate what I think would work best for my body and my endurance level. I want the hip harness on first, for example, to limit the amount of time my body is in a stress position once the chest harness goes on. Or which leg goes up because one is stronger and more able to withstand carrying the weight of my body for the five or so minutes that the rest of the uplines are being secured.
It makes me feel like a true partner with the person I’m tying with. This isn’t only about them and their goals. It’s about our goals together.
The more I’m able to understand how to help my partners customize these ties to my body, the more comfortable I feel with the thought of taking flight. One-size-fits-all rope has never quite suited me.
Which brought me to this conversation the other night with my partner as we came home from our first successful suspension together.
“Maybe by my 40th birthday, I can be a piñata!”
I can see it now. By next July, I should totally be able to withstand spending …what, like a whole minute? Maybe two in suspension? Then he can beat me with, with something fun…like a hollow plastic bat. Big noise, but little pain. And I can hold handfuls of candy and fling them about the room!
It’s a fun thought. Who knows if it’s something that could happen or not? I don’t even know what’s happening tomorrow, much next be in a position to plan for next summer.
But, I like that I’m learning something and I like that I’m pushing myself a little out of my comfort zone with the help of two people that I trust will think no less of me if I feel like it’s too much and have to stop.
That trust alone is 60% of what gets me off the ground. The rest is just rope.