Yoga and Chocolate – Postscript

Here is what I can resurrect from my memory about the two sessions I had with Dave Romanelli at Thrive Yoga last weekend, one of his yoga and chocolate workshops:

Two-hour sessions are a delicious experience. Most of my classes are in the 75-90 minute range, though most of my teachers usually go over their time allotment. But when you have a full 120 minutes, it gives you a chance to dig deep into your body and mind. First, Dave had us do several vinyasa sequences and then he asked us to do another couple of rounds at our own speed. Although my teachers have requested me to do just that, in the workshop setting, I just then realized how it can be an opportunity to explore the poses and movement. There was no sense of having to rush through the vinyasa so that I could catch up with the others. The other reward of the 120 minute setting is a long, long, profound savasana at the end of the class. (On Thanksgiving, I have another two-hour class with Neva Ingalls at Thrive so I will be doubly grateful that day.) It’s when you can really dive into the interior space that you created.

Core, core, core and more core. As a 50-something adult, I know that I am not endowed with the same physical attributes as I was as a young man, but this weekend I realized how much I needed to improve the strength of my core muscle, especially between my hips and rib cage. It’s probably the single most important aspect that is holding back my practice. I’ve decided to step up my home practice for those muscles.

Scoring points Dave said that if yoga were a competitive Olympic sport, you would be judged by the quality of your breath, not on the difficulty of the pose or the fluidity of your movements. That confirms a conviction that I have been developing over the past couple of months as I try to balance my breath with the pace of my classes. Sample your breath and you’ll get a glimpse of honesty. I have reconnected with my own pranayama practice, especially the Art of Living kriya.

Presence of a cloud Dave had us start out lying on our mats, still, listening and it built from there. Dave and his music were a constant stream of ideas, sounds and vibrations, but never intrusive or domineering. He had to manage 40-plus participants so he had his hands full, but he never seemed to interfere with the interior process. At the end, I said to myself, “Boy, that was smooth!” the sign of a balanced, subtle teacher.

Rewarding Prior to the Yoga and Chocolate weekend, the two teachers with whom I study most frequently at Thrive, Kim and Anya, had taken a yoga teacher retreat with Shiva Rea at Triangle Yoga in North Carolina. They came back with the idea of shaking up their yoga classes, breaking out of familiar, cozy sequencing of vinyasas and urging us to explore the full experience. It meant that for two weeks I had some challenging classes. It was a perfect prep leading into Dave’s sessions, rewarding the effort of pushing my practice a little further and seeing blessing in unexpected places. For that matter, the chocolate that Dave gave us was a savory morsel of payoff for focusing on the senses — an apt metaphor of the whole experience.