Suspension Bondage Is Dangerous

We love suspension bondage and we’re excited to share it with you. We want to be very clear, however, about the risks involved.

1. Suspension bondage involves unavoidable risk. Like rock climbing, suspension is a risky activity. Good preparation and training can reduce your risk, but even if you do everything right there is still a chance that you may be injured or killed, or that you may injure or kill another person.

2. We don’t have all the answers. Unlike rock climbing, suspension bondage has no professional standards bodies and no expert consensus about best practices. This book is based on years of study, practice, and consultation with outside experts. Nonetheless, you should be aware that suspension is still a developing field, and our understanding of the best way to do things is still evolving.

3. You can’t learn suspension from a book. The only safe way to learn suspension is to work with a qualified instructor or mentor. This book is a valuable adjunct to expert instruction, but not a substitute for it. Without a skilled teacher to guide and evaluate you, you cannot learn suspension without placing your partner in tremendous danger.

4. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Suspension is fun and exciting, and you will likely be tempted to rush ahead and try activities that you aren’t yet ready for. We can’t stress enough the importance of proceeding slowly and methodically, and always working within your skill level.

5. Always use good judgment. Your best defense against mishap is your own common sense and good judgment. Always be mindful of what you’re doing, and err on the side of caution.

Your partner is placing tremendous faith in your competence and judgment. If you are careless or overly ambitious, they are likely to pay a heavy price for your foolishness. Make sure that you are worthy of their trust.

Suspended Animation accepts no responsibility for any injury or death which may occur as a result of the activities described in this book. By reading this book, you agree to take full responsibility for your actions and their consequences.

Harness Variations

The Y Hanger

You’ve just learned how to tie the face up chest harness, which often involves two separate bands of rope. This is the first of many situations where you’ll need to attach your vertical line to two places at the same time. Our old standby, two half hitches, won’t work in these cases.

The solution is to use a Y hanger. There are many Y hangers to choose from, but our favorite uses a knot called the Birmingham Bowline.

Tying the Birmingham Bowline


Pass the working end under both bands.


Pull a V several inches long in between the bands, and place the bight next to the V.

The V and the bight should be centered in between the two bands.


Make a twist in the standing end.


Place the twist over the V and the bight.

Note that there are two ways to make the twist. If you’ve done it correctly, the standing end will be captured by the twist and held in place. If you’ve done it incorrectly, the knot will fall apart.


Bring the standing end through the V and the bight.


Snug the knot tight.