Kiera Lai (’24)’s journey as a self-taught contortionist


Provided by Kiera Lai, edited by Tejasvini Ramesh

Kiera Lai (’24) holds a bridge while kicking her leg up, a popular pose in contortion.

Katy Clark, AVT A&E Editor

Kiera Lai (‘24), or @somewhat_contortionist to her Instagram followers, discovered the art of contortion through a YouTube video when she was in fifth grade. Contortion involves twisting one’s body in unnatural and unique ways, requiring great flexibility. 

“Before I used to practice, I would stretch every night but then I would really try to improve myself on the weekend or if I knew I didn’t have any homework. [I would also practice] especially if no one else was home and I just had the entire living room to practice around, but now I would say [I practice] once a week,” said Lai.

Starting a hobby

Lai has kept contortion in her life throughout her middle school and high school years as a hobby. She has not competed competitively, but has used Instagram to share her passion for contortion. 

“It is just such a small hobby of mine that I haven’t had many challenges with. There are cases where people got injured but like I said, it is just recreational for me so I push myself to how I want to push myself, I practice when I want to practice so it is just whatever my body feels that day and it is just however I feel,” said Lai.

Through her Instagram, Lai has reached many people with her videos and drawings she has posted. Instagram promoted one of her videos, and she now has over 1,200 followers on her account.

“I think I started the Instagram account in seventh grade. I started it because I haven’t really met any other contortionists and I just wanted to connect with more people. That was the only way I knew how to do it,” said Lai.

Creating a community

While contortion has been fulfilling for Lai herself, she also takes pride in inspiring her younger cousin, who is motivated by Lai’s flexibility. By teaching others, Lai not only advances her skill, but also builds a community for herself and future contortionists. 

“Originally I was doing it on my own and for like a few years, it was just me. I went to an after school day care, and I would help out with the younger kids, and they would see me doing that so then I basically taught them how to do it. That is kind of how I made friends through contortion,“ said Lai.

Even though she might not have as much time as a junior to practice contortion, Lai still  strives to keep contortion a relaxing hobby in her life and has even ventured into new interests that relate to flexibility and the body.

“I do want to start up my Instagram account again but it is kind of hard to try to find time now, especially my junior year. I did want to make it a more common hobby because I think it is a really cool art form. At the Bay Club gym, I do yoga there with my mom and I have met other teachers there, and it is really interesting. They have a barre class, and I want to see if I can maybe start something or talk to more people about contortion,” said Lai.