This is a re-post from the old blog site when I first opened Kudzu Aerial and remains one of the most-visited articles on my site.
My teaching philosophy comes from the belief that we only have one body in this life and we have to learn how to nurture it into difficult poses, rather than force it (and the best part is that the science backs this belief up).
The following is the article with a few minor updates in content & graphics, if you want to visit the original story, you can read it here: http://www.kudzuaerial.com/fromthevine/noteachcontortion
I've had several requests to teach Over-Splits, Needles, and Back-Bending moves from parents and children over the years. My answer has not and will not change: No.
That isn't to say I won't teach healthy stretching, but contortion is usually not a safe or reasonable exercise for most bodies to practice - especially, the bodies of adolescents.
Our social media feeds are clogged full of bendy kids or performers who take it to The Extreme but the problem is, that no one sees what it takes to get there, or what happens next.
People who go viral with their talents are usually the products of years of moulding into a certain way, and before that, they had the correct anatomical build to get to where they are. You are born with the body you have, and it is the only body you will have, maximize it's use, don't limit it by pushing yourself to the point of injury for an Instagram photo.
I don't want your child's back pain on my conscience, no matter how badly they want that Instagram photo. An injury is not worth a few hundred likes. An adult life spent in chronic pain is not worth a "viral video".
I realize to many I come across as a hypocrite, my personal Instagram account is chock-full of me being bendy...but at the heart of it all, I'm not proud of being bendy - I was born bendy, I'm proud of the strength I've struggled to build my entire life. Aerial made that strength possible.
Every ounce of strength I've gained, I've had to train for EVERY SINGLE DAY. I know the oversplits look impressive, but the ability to use my body in a healthy way is why I continue to train, and why I enjoy teaching others.
For a majority of my life, my extreme hyper-mobility caused more problems than it solved. Thankfully, the dance training I received did not force my flexibility, otherwise, I can only imagine the problems I would have now.
I know I've lost a few clients because I won't teach them my "Secrets". The truth is my Secret is a genetic abnormality with several health consequences (including being blind in one eye, thyroid problems, and chronic pain for several years of my life).