Ever heard of the phrase, “slacklining”? Recently, I heard the phrase for the first time and got the thrill of trying it out while in Hawaii for my son’s wedding.
So what is Slacklining?
Slacklining refers to the act of walking or balancing along a suspended length of flat webbing that is tensioned between two anchors, typically trees.
Slacklines are tensioned significantly less than tightropes in order to create a dynamic line which will stretch and bounce like a long and narrow 1.5 inch trampoline suspended about 3-5 feet from the ground. The practice simultaneously develops focus, dynamic balance, power, breath, core integration, flexibility, and confidence.
So back to my experience in Hawaii and what I learned from it...
While at a park one Sunday evening, a slackline had been set up between two coconut trees. I was intrigued by what I saw and walked over to the line to watch young people with great balance lined up to give the slackline a try.
Some people would take a running leap to jump up from the ground onto the line (often falling off). Others walked the line with confidence repeating the practice over and over getting better each time. Still others would try it and take a few steps, fall off and walk away and not try again.
I was definitely a fish out of water with this group of young people and certainly the only grandma in the mix. I had a tingle to try it, but didn’t want to embarrass my kids by falling off and ending up in the ER. But finally there was a gap in the people waiting to go on the line and I decided to try it.
With my kids on either side of me, I had a death grip on their hands as I stepped up to the line which was about 3 feet high. After falling off before I even got up, I tried again.
This time I made it, tightly holding to the hands of my supporters.
I was tense from the top of my head to my toes and then the “trampoline effect” began with the line bouncing my feet up and down uncontrollably. The more I looked at my feet to try to stop it the faster and higher I was bouncing.
A young woman saw what was happening and said, “Don’t look at your feet. Look at the tree ahead of you.” Suddenly the bouncing subsided a little. Then she said, “Press your feet down with confidence and tighten your core.”
As I followed her directions, it was amazing, the strap suddenly got quiet and still. I was able to walk almost the entire length holding my supporters hands without falling off. I did it several more times and loved the feeling it gave me.
The next Sunday, the only thing I wanted to do was to go back to that park and try it again. As the sun was setting on my last attempt, I was able to walk the length of the strap, with just two fingers on my son’s shoulder and end with a passable Warrior III balancing on one leg.
So what did I learn from my experience?
- Don’t be afraid to try new things, they may be challenging but fun.
- Ask for support and help when you need it. Those reassuring hands helped me have success.
- When life starts to get out of control, stop and look ahead to your goal and it will help you get back on track.
- Walk with confidence. Rooting down with your feet one confident step at a time will help you stay present, focused and calm.
- Finding your inner strength that bends when needed, but is strong and sure, can bring joy and confidence to your life.
How many times in a yoga class have I told my students or heard it said to me when I was taking a class, to find a focal point and to press down on the four corners of their feet or tighten my core. These instructions became so real to me on the line. Let me tell you, to balance on a 1.5 inch piece of webbing lightly tensioned between two trees is not easy, and doing yoga poses on the strap was even more challenging.
But remember, your real yoga starts when you step off the mat. My lessons from my first slackline experience will stay with me for the rest of my life.