“Maybe nothingness is to be without your presence,
without you moving, slicing the noon
like a blue flower, without you walking
later through the fog and the cobbles,
without the light you carry in your hand,
golden, which maybe others will not see,
which maybe no one knew was growing
like the red beginnings of a rose.
In short, without your presence: without your coming
suddenly, incitingly, to know my life,
gust of a rosebush, wheat of wind:
since then I am because you are,
since then you are, I am, we are,
and through love I will be, you will be, we will be.”
— Pablo Neruda
Yesterday, my friend Mac asked me to go to a partner yoga class (not to be confused with Acro Yoga) at the recently opened Priya Pilates on Hwy 89A here in West Sedona. I had never done a partner yoga class, so of course I had to try it.
The teachers of the partner yoga class were Marc Titus & Heather Driscoll.
The class started with Marc asking Mac and I to put our mats right next to each other. Then we began in Tadasana and began breathing, first normally and then with Ujjayi. It was so awesome to be that close to someone and feel how our breathing began to change naturally to match each others. Each inhale and exhale we took together. Mac and I have practiced yoga together for over six years so matching our breath wasn't new to us, but being so close was. It was a totally different experience.
We began by stretching and opening our hearts and lengthening our spine together. Marc asked us to send prana to parts in our body that needed it and to even send it to my neighbors body. This was such a nice thought. During this section I have to admit that being this close to Mac was kind of funny and we couldn't stop laughing. We've never touched hands before, let alone knees, elbows, forearms, backs (other than when helping each other with minor adjustments in our own personal practice). If you went to this class with a loved one it could be considered romantic and sensual, so if you have a date, bring them along...You'll definitely be happy about it :) Or! Come alone, because there are other benefits as well. While I was practicing with Mac, I felt grateful that he was trying to be a mountain for me in Warrior III or a big Oak tree for me in tree pose. I felt appreciation when my friend said he was sending prana and strength to me in my lunge or when he was consciously careful while leaning on me in seated forward fold. It's nice to openly send that kind of love and care to each other. So if you come alone, I believe you will leave knowing that your partner sent you love, prana and grace as well. It's a nice feeling.
After the opening sequence with Marc, Heather took over and led us through vinyasa. Side by side vinyasa is just amazing. Each inhale and exhale moved Mac and I together into plank, cobra, downward dog, warrior. With eyes closed we somehow managed to move in unison without knocking each other in the face lol. This part was my favorite. I love vinyasa and I was surprised to see how much heat I was creating in my body after just a couple of vinyasas. I really enjoyed this part. Heather is trained in guiding you seamlessly from one pose to another. I recall though that her yoga language is a little different than mine, meaning we call Warrior I different things in English and this confused me once or twice, however her knowledge of the yoga Sanskrit terms are flawless. If you are new to yoga, she is definitely capable of helping you with adjustments in order to be in the pose.
Side Note: Don't worry... the heat/sweat that we built during this section did not get exchanged with each other. It was during this time that we did not use each others bodies for support, etc. So, when we moved on to balancing poses, we had an opportunity to cool down.
Next: Balancing poses. HAHA.... It was so funny to try to hold tree while holding each others elbows. This was a lighthearted moment in the class. If Mac happened to move to the right some, I did. If he fell, I did too. We finally figured out if we focused our drishti on something other than each others bodies then we could hold the pose. When I found my balance, Mac did too and our breathing began to unite again. Very cool. At one point we had our backs to each other and Heather said to feel how the back of our hearts touched and how it was all together one heart in the world (something like that)... union, yoga... It was so inspiring.
Last: Seated Folds, Deeper Stretches & Savasana: This winding down section involved deeper stretches and forward folds. I love it when a teacher touches me to adjust my position or deepen my stretch — it is the equivalent of a free massage from a trained professional in my opinion. So, having Mac firmly pressing down on my quadriceps while gently pressing on my back while I went into seated forward fold was just heaven. With each exhale he added a little more weight on my back and soon I was in the deepest seated forward fold in my life (other than this one time I totally fell asleep in seated forward fold and woke up with my head on my knee / long story lol).
While in Savasana, Marc played a wooden flute and led us deeper into our resting pose. It was a nice finish. After the class we casually played around with inversions and I learned a new assist that helped me go from headstand to dolphin. I had never done that before and I truly enjoyed it. I can't stop doing it on my own now.
In conclusion: It was the first time Marc Titus & Heather Driscoll had taught this class and I believe they did a wonderful job. They seem very knowledgeable in the world of yoga anatomy, energy, adjustments, and prana. The class was held in a beautiful studio and was candlelit, which made the whole experience even more personal for me. (I explain this at the very end of this blog post). They are going to host the class every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. I hope to see you there next Wednesday! In summary, this partner yoga class was so much fun and I highly recommend it to any and everyone no matter how long you've practiced yoga. If you go, share your thoughts with me here! I'm curious what you think as well.
Yoga Pose Examples During the Assisted section of the Partner Yoga Class at Priya Pilates
Power in Balance
Yoga of the Sun & the Moon
With Marc Titus & Heather Driscoll
Explore the joy of partner yoga. Come to the mat to open your heart in union and love. Enhance flexibility, strength and consciousness together to create balance and harmony in all relations. Bring a date, partner or friend.
Is Partner Yoga Beneficial to My Meditative State?
Yoga is a spiritual practice. The "goal" of yoga is to “achieve union with your essence” through a combination of physical and metaphysical means, including postures (asanas), breathing exercises and meditation. Traditionally, yoga is taught one-on-one, takes years to master and has nothing to do with improving the definition of your shoulder muscles. It also emphasizes emotional detachment, which I admit was difficult for me to achieve in partner yoga.
Being so close to another person while practicing was a little distracting, but having the candle light versus bright lights, seemed to bring the essence of the practice to my center. It added something to this practice. Also, Marc's deep love and gratitude towards prana and energy radiates from him and so being in any other partner yoga class that would (I assume) typically be very distracting, somehow, still remained a spiritual practice, although on a different level than I am accustomed in my own personal practice.
I am going to continue to go to the partner yoga class on Wednesdays and I realize that I probably will not reach the same level of meditation that I am used to in my own practice, but I am okay with that. Partner yoga is almost a foolproof way of getting people to lighten up, and somehow it kept me out of my mind. It makes people interact. Through practicing partner yoga, we experience a deepening trust in ourselves and others, and realize that by working in a partnership, we manifest more than we ever could alone. I am grateful for that. Namaste'.
As 2012 comes to a close, some of us celebrate the good that has entered our lives and reconcile that which has brought sadness, insecurity, or anger. This kind of emotional (vichara), or self-reflection, is a powerful way of releasing the past and making space for new life to flourish. I often celebrate the New Year by making a list of my intentions for the year to come — writing down what I want for myself, using affirmative language, and, of course, making it all sound yogically kosher: "In the year to come, I'll serve my students with joy. I'll experience abundance in my spiritual, emotional, and material life. I'll live within my heart and center and respond through love." Stuff like that. This year I intend on spending more time consciously recollecting my words and actions of the previous year... Something that's not always easy, but I find that it is exactly what I need sometimes.
In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali says that Vichara/Self-Reflection is a way of clearing the underbrush out of our inner field. When we make up our mind to look clearly at our own unconscious actions, or the inner murk that can hide our less savory motives, we dissolve a lot of the sludge that we carry around in our heart. The miracle of (Vichara), or self-reflection is that it creates a current of self-awareness that can bring transformation all by itself. The process of recalling a charged event, bringing it to consciousness, feeling remorse if appropriate, and then letting it go is the precursor to letting go of the negativity and self-judgment embedded in the memories of actions we might regret.
Looking at ourselves honestly is not easy for most of us. Often it's downright uncomfortable. Our habits of self-justification, blame, and denial are sometimes deeply rooted. Some of us have a hard time admitting our successes. Most of us have an even harder time admitting our mistakes. One reason for this is that we identify so closely with our usual way of doing things that we don't believe that we can change. Sometimes we don't want to! However, the more you get in the habit of looking back at your day, week, or month and clearing your discomfort, the more automatic it becomes.
And so this morning I spent time rearranging my alter and my inner-self to reflect my new focus and intention for the upcoming year -- Gratitude and Self-Healing. The essence of an altar is to honor Divine energies, express gratitude, give offerings and ask for blessings and protection. My last alter was focused on opening my heart and so it had pictures of people I hoped to forgive or send love and compassion and peace towards... My new alter includes a picture of my grandparents and of my love, Mike. Other little things are here and there. A mala that I gave to my Grandma about a year before she died. Flowers and a rose quartz mala that Mike gave me. Crystals, incense, and pictures of deities that create a loving feeling in my heart... A quote that moves me, which I posted in the last blog entry, but you can read it here if you like.
While I was adding a few finishing touches on my new space, I became just a little bit sad... The idea of purposely spending time meditating on my own self-healing and continued gratitude for everything, well it's a little bit intimidating. And then, this song came on my iPod (Into your arms - Ashana). Perfect timing. I closed my eyes, naturally fell into a meditative position, my left hand went into Gyan Mudra, while my right hand rested on my heart... and I surrendered... to myself, to my past, to the future.
I sent love to my past, present, and future self and to everyone I love... Despite having a following moment of slightly wet lashes, it has been a good day. This new alter seems to create a feeling of peace and harmony with the way my life is at this moment. I feel more gratitude for the people in my life, the memories I have, whether good or bad; the experiences I've endured or thrived in... So today, I adjusted my alter, spent about 25 minutes in seated meditation, practiced Anusara Yoga and then went running/frolicking with my dog Gracie. I feel really whole and happy today. I hope you do too.
“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.
Under the harvest moon,
When the soft silver
Over the garden nights,
Death, the gray mocker,
Comes and whispers to youa
As a beautiful friend
Under the summer roses
When the flagrant crimson
Lurks in the dusk
Of the wild red leaves,
Love, with little hands,
Comes and touches you
With a thousand memories,
And asks you
Beautiful, unanswerable questions.
~ Carl Sandburg
Love is the essence of our life. I have written this blog with love, and I offer it to you, dear reader, with the hope that the suggestions offered here will become a vital part of your self-healing and continued well-being. ~ Ashley
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by Amy Ippoliti
Enlightenment Is Your Nature: The Fundamental Difference Between Psychology, Therapy, and Meditation
❤ WHAT STUDENTS SAY ABOUT ASHLEY CRUZ YOGA ❤
"From Aldea Yanapay (great school of love to children), to the incredible homely hostel la boheme, to the food at mercado san blas and at greenpoint... My 6 weeks in Cusco/Qosqo/centre/gravitational centre were all truly well balanced out by Ashley ● I have been doing yoga for five years in London, Lisbon and NYC and I was wonderfully surprised by the teacher Ashley in Cusco, Peru. From her words, to the sense of opportunity, helping, the pace, the getting everyone's names and brief "why am I here", taste for music and simply those oils... vinyasa gained a new look for me. ● You made me feel so balanced out, just when I needed that push. May your excellent work continue and your knowledge be taken further." ~ Yours, Ana Maria (portugal)
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