"They sleep deprived them to keep everyone vulnerable so their hearts would be open to the teaching."
This account of a Yoga retreat made me reflect on the nature of sleep deprivation. Short term effects include decreased performance and alertness, memory and cognitive impairment, increased risk of occupational injury. Driving while sleep deprived is as dangerous as driving drunk. Lack of adequate sleep affects mood, motivation, judgment, and perception. Any school teacher will tell you - students need sleep to be able to learn. This is counterproductive for yoga and dangerous for acrobatic training.
Where is sleep deprivation used? Fraternity hazing, cult indoctrination, military training, interrogation, and torture. There, the physical and mental stress is intentional.
The schedule at my AcroYoga Teacher Training ran from 7am to 10pm, optional meditation at 5am and music jam until midnight. Squalid living conditions with some sleeping on floors and outdoors added to the stress. Living out of my car left me constantly sleep deprived. When I ask myself why I tolerated the abusive environment, I attribute it to impaired judgement from sleep deprivation.
To my friends who attend retreats, I ask: Is sleep deprivation a normal part of the experience?
To my colleagues now planning their own AcroYoga Teacher Trainings: allow your students time to sleep. Otherwise, you are not training, but doing something else entirely.
The AcroYoga Curmudgeon
"It is used by military trainers for the same reason it is used in interrogation. To break the individual spirit. The whole purpose of boot camp is to break recruits so that they will follow orders without thought or question. The practical training they receive is beside the point. The entire enterprise is designed to stomp the individual to make him a non-questioning team member." What Is The Purpose Of Sleep Deprivation