Walking the line

Walking the line

Balancing acts have been around, fascinating us, for a long time. As kids, everyone has tried balancing on something — either compound walls, thin wires or on ropes. Slacklining is nothing but a derivation of all of this. It is a sport which involves walking, jumping, balancing and performing tricks on a slackline.

A slackline is a flat webbing made of nylon or polyester and slacklining is similar to tightrope walking. A fun sport, it is now popular among Bengalureans, who are making a connection with the serene environment of parks to playing the sport. Slacklines can be set up pretty much anywhere between two solid anchor points. However, the best anchor points for a slackline are trees with a minimum diameter of 12 inches and at a distance of 15-20 feet from each other.

“Once the slackline is set up, balancing on a single spot is the first step, which is followed by learning to walk  backwards, and turning on the line,” says Syed Zaid, a
slacker.

Since trees are a natural anchor to set up slacklines, slackers are known to be environment-friendly. Protecting trees is an important factor. “A high volume of water is transported through capillary tubes directly under the bark to all the branches. The high tension of the slackline can interrupt this vital flow of water within the tree. This frictional force, generated on the trunk of the tree especially on trees with an even bark surface, can cause damage. Therefore tree protectors are a must.

A tree protector is able to conserve trees, by balancing out tension and working as a buffer against the build up of friction,” adds Syed.

Hardik Shah, a slacker, says, "‘For me the slackline creates a new connection between myself and the trees. With a tree on either side of me, I am able to float in between on my slackline. I feel encouraged by their strength. The trees are my partners to stay with a better balance in life."

There are various types of slacklining and one is highlining, where the slackline is at a height of over 30 feet above the ground. It is one of the toughest forms as the height adds to the risk. Rodeo slacklining is extremely slack and has no tension. It is setup between anchor points at 20 feet above the ground that droop down to three feet above the ground in the middle. Slackline yoga combines slacklining with traditional yoga poses.

Maleva Robert, a slacker, says, “The beauty of slacklining is that it can be either an individual or a group sport. Acro yoga slacking and trickling is the most popular form and it is set up three to five  feet above the ground and is bouncy.” ‘Slack Sundays’ is a slack session at Cubbon Park from 7 am to 12 pm. Beginners can connect with the slack community by visiting their Facebook page — ‘Slack.in’. “Another interesting aspect is that it has no age bar. We have had kids as young as five to six years trying it and elderly people as old as 60 getting a feel of the slackline at the park,” sums up Syed.

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