Wednesday, 25 April 2012


Blogger has this interesting function whereby you can see the search terms people have used to arrive at your blog. I think it must be because I've blogged, (fairly mildly and infrequently it must be said), about kink, transvestism and shibari that people find my blog through some delightfully naughty searches. I actually feel a little sorry for them, for the mild disappointment they must experience when they realise I'm writing and not uploading porn at all.
Still, all that borne in mind, I'm still going to title this entry 'harness' and see what happens.

These are pictures from the harness workshop I took with Company Retouramont, which I rather suspect inflamed my sciatica...Not their fault at all, warm ups and cool downs were great, we worked safely etc. I just think I have a substandard back. Thanks genetics.

Bungee against a wall...
Still, aside from my usual frustrations at ground work (it takes me an age to learn floor choreography. Honestly, it's embarrassing. I think aerial creates a kind of life or death incentive that activates the 'learn this NOW' part of my brain) the workshop was good fun. We tried wall running on harness, bungee dance, static harness improvisations...

My very favourite was counter-balance harness. We tried out a system whereby one partner sat on the floor (most of us had to be additionally secured by a more heavy and sturdy gentleman sitting behind us and holding our climbing harnesses) and the other climbed the taught mainline.
Once airborne, you can move around the taught line as if flying - it felt a bit like corde lisse, at an angle, but with such a reduced need for arm muscles that it was dream-like, like being in water. I was ecstatic.

So, it is a little bit of a shame that I feel rather a lot of hesitation about the idea of doing any harness work again. I'm just not sure the small of my back can take that much pressure. We'll see. As it is, I'm still on a bit of a break from aerial training as my back is not back (er...) to normal. I've seen people who are long-term injured, and I do not want to end up in that place.
It is good that I can use the time to fully focus on my dissertation, rather than, you know, spending ages uploading photos and writing blog entries.

Monday, 23 April 2012


Following a four day intensive course in aerial harness dance, I met my dear friend Nicola at Gatwick airport and flew to Knock. Another friend drove us back to Nic's current residence - a beautiful little yoga studio retreat type affair, with hot tub, sauna, amazing views etc - and we settled in for some serious relaxing. Whereupon, I was promptly stuck down with sciatica.

Now, I've never had it before, although my sports massage guy had been warning me for sometime that if my back muscles didn't slacken off I was in danger of developing it. It is a shocking pain. I've been very fortunate in my life to be born with a healthy body and to have avoided major accidents, so the worst pain I'm familiar with is menstrual which, for me, ranges from an annoyance to having to do some more serious meditative breathing.
Sciatica is a bright white stabbing/shooting pain that never quite goes away. It made me catch my breath, stopped me sleeping and meant I couldn't really walk for three days. It was very lucky that I had Nic to care for me, and that I didn't have anything I needed to get done - I was officially on holiday.

I've being doing a lot of reading about pain experience as part of my dissertation. The author Ariel Glucklich introduced me to the idea that pain is experienced very differently depending on its context, or the way it is being understood.
So, you might understand a pain to be a punishment from God. You might frame it as a healing, cleansing pain. You might be getting a tattoo done and be experiencing the stinging burn as exciting. In aerial I experience pain as potentially transformative - if I bear with it, I will be stronger.
It seems, in certain circumstances, how we frame our pain can genuinely alter the physical, embodied experience of it. 

So, although the initial intensity of my sciatica has gradually subsided, I've not trained in aerial for three weeks. I think that is the longest I've ever had off since I began two and a half years ago. The interesting thing was I didn't miss it nearly as much as I thought I would have. What made me sad (and slightly panicky) was insomnia, pain inspired midnight thoughts of never being able to comfortably go for all day walks again.
It made me realise that all day walks in sun, rain, snow, whatever nature has on that day, are what I love the very most about being mobile and fit.

In this instance, pain brought my priorities sharply and unexpectedly into focus for me, for which I am oddly grateful.