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 6 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'.
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