Art and I have spent a week in Sayulita, Mexico. We went for a yoga retreat with 20+ other people who happen to come from all over, though many were from the Aspen area. Though Art and I went primarily for the yoga (synergy—which is partnership yoga, and Bikram’s) and the instructors—Kate, Amanda and Ambere, who have become good friends, what I love is the extra surprise of meeting other participants and spending a week with them in a relaxed setting.
We’ve stayed at a resort called Haramara, up in the hills of Sayulita. No electricity, no air-conditioning, just open thatched huts that look out over the jungle and ocean. The waves that hit the shoreline rocks fiercely have lulled us to sleep each night. The trek up the hillside to either the open aired yoga studios, or to the beach or restaurant, aren’t always easy on the knees but good for the legs and waistline. The views and privacy are good for the soul. The yoga… good for everything.
Synergy yoga is all about connection and trust. You work with a partner and or the group to allow yourself to be stretched (literally and figuratively) in new ways. You practice Thai massage on each other and learn how to “fly” someone, where they balance on their legs, similarly to the way my father used to fly me in the air as a little girl. As a big girl, the move takes trust and letting go of my ego. The Bikram yoga, a series of 26 postures, is meditative while also challenging. It’s about trusting myself to let go and “be” in the moment, to allow my body to bend and move in ways it sometimes wants to fight.
When you put twenty people together of all ages and backgrounds, you find yourself in a myriad of conversations at dinner. I’m mostly a people watcher. I can talk with anyone and I love to ask questions, but what I love the most is to observe. I see in others what I know is true of myself. Insecurities, shyness, fear of opening up, anger that can show itself in many ways, but mostly defensiveness. That is what I love about being in a group like this…that I can see pieces of myself in others.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had it together? If we all felt like we were perfect and could just coast through life and have the world at our feet? I’ve thought of that quite a lot because I spent my childhood feeling like I was never enough. I didn’t always have the right clothes or the right car or didn’t live in the best house. Even now, when many would look at me and say I have it all, I still think that the beauty of life, the discovery, the learning to open and share, is in the lessons we learn from all of our faults.
One of the men on our retreat, Jimmy, brought this point into focus the other night. Jimmy is a man who on the outside has it all. Money, success, travels the world. He’s funny and carefree. I looked into his eyes the first night we all met and I thought, “Hmmm…there’s something deep in there. He’s not all fun and games. He wants more.” He gave a toast last night to all of us and shared his heart and his tears. He had begun reading Art’s and my book and it had his emotions on the surface. What I loved was seeing this man, so strong and so manly, show us all what real strength is by showing us his soul.
Life is not about having it all together. It’s not about all that we have or what kind of job we have. It’s not even close. It’s about what we give and share of our selves. It’s about giving a smile or a hug to someone in need, about reaching out in any whatever way we can so that we stretch our own lives in order to do something for another.
Synergy yoga is about working with another or a group to create balance and openness. It is an ever-changing art form of yoga that enables two people to mutually trust one another. Or not. Because, just as in life, we must make adjustments and make choices to trust and let others in, synergy is a choice, a mindset.
As our friend Jimmy taught us al this week, as we open up to our emotions, change happens. Shereen, another yogi here, baked special bread tonight for Shabbat dinner. It is what is special to her, what she will give. May we all give more in our life, may we all synergize.
Amen to Kate, Amanda and Ambere.