The earth element is associated with survival & self-preservation. When we do not feel safe or sense a threat, we will often carry physical tension & mental stress as experienced through our sympathetic nervous system, sometimes referred to as “fight-or-flight” mode. Our bodies channel the “fight-or-flight” mode largely in response to highly stressful or survival situations. Until our bodies perceive that the threat or danger has passed, our brain continues to release hormones that keep us on high-alert & ready for intense physical activity – to “fight” or “flight”.
In moving slowly & being gentle with our bodies, we target a heavy, rooted, slow-moving, tamastic energy. This targets the parasympathetic nervous system, sometimes referred to as the “rest & digest” response, which tends to slow our heart rate, producing an overall sense of calm & relaxation. Essentially, we tell our bodies to turn down the stress response as stimulated by the sympathetic nervous system through the physical cues of moving slowly, gently, quietly, & generally creating an atmosphere that allows us to feel safe, warm, & supported.
In addition to rope, we frequently use various props to support our body so we can comfortably release any & all engagement in our myofascial system as we melt into the yoga poses. Using props is a respectful acknowledgement of ourselves, our body, & our practice. Props allow us to accommodate our individual flexibility levels while tuning into & listening to our internal, sensory cues.
We are guided by & listen to our bodies in each pose practice.
“No thank you” should always be allowed, accepted, & respected in our relational dynamics, no matter the time in our play, our partner(s), or gender.
Copyright ©2015 Emmeline May and Blue Seat Studios
Our psychological state, including our memories, associations, & expectations, influence & shape our perception. Studies show that our expectations even modify the construction of experienced pain in our bodies. As it relates to our ropes practice, discussing the ties, locations, & techniques of permissible play is crucial to pre-session negotiation. This allows both parties to feel safe & secure, allowing the freedom to explore our limits without fear.
Jay Wiseman has created both short & long negotiation forms that address roles, limits, & so much more. They are an excellent starting point to approach first-time or private sessions when tying with a partner. You may access the forms, published by Greenery Press, below.
Are you a self-suspender or spotter looking for a form to springboard communication for your upcoming scene? If so, Stefanos & Shay have created an excellent Spotter Communication Checklist for Self-Suspension that addresses some of the frequently addressed dynamics in these types of scenes.
There are all kinds of rope available for your practice. The type of rope that will suit your practice best depends on both what you intend to practice with the rope & personal preference. Different rope fibers & diameters provide varying levels of strength & textures, a key component to consider especially when approaching any sort of suspension practice.
As listed on EpicRope.com, to calculate the safe working load of a piece of rope, we take the breaking strength & divide it by ten. While the breaking strength varies by usage, wear, & momentum, the breaking strength for one 6mm strand of jute rope is estimated at 300 pounds (giving us a safe working load of 30 pounds). One 6mm strand of hemp rope is estimated to have a breaking strength of 400 pounds (giving us a safe working load of 40 pounds).
The most common & versatile rope diameter is 6mm. 8mm is slightly thicker & is used for tying larger bodies. Given the bulkier ties, generally more length is needed. 4mm is more slender & is used for precision tying areas such as the hands, feet, or genitals. Rope width is an important consideration for the desired sensation as the wider rope will distribute the weight across a wider surface, where as the skinner rope will result in a more concentrated sensation.
The length of rope required for any given session is variable on the ties & rigger preference. As listed on TwistedMonk.com, 10-15 feet will usually suffice for tying the hands & arms. For chest & hip harnesses, measure the widest point of the hip & multiply that number by six to get an estimated length of rope required. For full-body harnesses, make a loop with the rope from one shoulder, down between the legs, to the other shoulder & multiply that number by seven to get an estimated length of rope required.
No matter what type of rope you select for your practice, important tools to have nearby are a pair of EMT Shears & a rescue hook in the event the rope needs to be removed quickly. A crash pad is also a vital tool, especially as it relates to our suspension practice.