Fitness From The Field: Yoga At Ashintully Gardens
The Rural Intelligence region offers a plethora of fitness and healing modalities, but it can be hard to know which is the one that fits your needs, your body type and your schedule. Enter Paula Boyajian, a yoga instructor certified in Interdisciplinary Yoga and Yoga for the Special Child, who has taken on the role of RI’s fitness contributor to sleuth out the details of the many health and wellness options in our area.
I feared having trouble writing about yoga class with Tracy Remelius since I’ve been taught a good story contains conflict. But with Tracy’s classes set in Tyringham’s glorious Ashintully Gardens, her calming voice guiding us while gentle Libby (Tracy’s dog) meditates on tiny creatures inhabiting a glistening pond, I just can’t think of one discord. Oh wait…you won’t want to leave.
What Is It?
Hatha yoga practiced in the Ashintully Gardens — so beautiful and well proportioned that it earned The Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s Hunnewell Medal. The class is similarly balanced, following the classic pattern of starting with centering breath work, followed by invigorating poses and closing with relaxation. Tracy also incorporates mudras — hand positions that evoke particular qualities. She asks us to decide which to use by noticing what we need: to stabilize, unify or energize.
Tracy reminds us to be aware of all our senses lest we miss the garden’s incredible gifts: birds serenading, breezes gently massaging skin and sweet grass inviting deep inhalations. She also urges us to be open to different perspectives — even look through our legs during a standing stretch – which made me smile; the upside down trees reminded me of a Mass MOCA exhibit.
Moderate. The class I took was categorized as such, because, in my opinion, Tracy doesn’t define each asana so you may be more comfortable if you’re not familiar with yoga terms. However, she is fully focused on her students’ safety and continually offers modifications for every level.
Many of us are aware of yoga’s benefits: toned muscles, increased flexibility, improved balance and body awareness — all of which you’ll gain from Tracy’s class. However, what I found most rewarding was the final relaxation or “savasana”. This Sanskrit word means “to surrender” — but not as some Westerners may think. It doesn’t mean to give up, instead it means to give in to the moment without changing anything. And as you lie under a blissful blue sky polka-dotted with cotton ball clouds, feeling the trusty earth beneath you, why would you want anything different? As Tracy’s suggested mantra states, “In absolute stillness I experience complete serenity.”
A peaches-and-cream complexion and a sincere smile; a wicker basket holding a small notebook to keep track of students, Tracy is the real deal, embracing yoga not only as a physical exercise but as a complete lifestyle. Her voice is encouraging and soothing without a lick of judgment or expectation, perhaps because of her own path.
In 2009, she said good-bye to a fulltime teaching job because she was “stressed-out, over-caffeinated, overtired (and) overweight.” She saw similar issues in her students and coworkers. Through yoga, she hopes to help people take care of themselves and bring them to a better place from where they can make a positive impact in the world.
Her training (including Certification at Mama Nirvana’s New Yoga, Change the World Teacher Training and Divine Sleep® Yoga Nidra YTT) allows her to offer Health Coaching and Yoga Adventures that combine outdoor sports like hiking with yoga.
When Tracy says Ashintully Gardens is the most beautiful place for yoga, you may take it with a grain of salt since it is her classroom, but I agree 100 percent. The garden is exquisite, but as if to gild the lily, surrounding it are majestic stone staircases, welcoming benches, delightful footbridges and urns overflowing with greenery. When weather precludes outdoor classes, the barn provides is an equally awe-inspiring experience being both rustic and elegant, with distressed beams bearing crystal chandeliers and a stone fireplace topped by an opulent mirror.
$10 per class for Trustee members, $12 for nonmembers.
Tracy offers peppermint oil to help keep away bugs; please bring a mat.
Saturdays, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. - moderate; Mondays, 7-8 p.m. — vigorous with optional Nidra Sleep Practice, 8-8:30 p.m.; the fourth Thursday of the month, 7–9:30 p.m. - Restorative Yoga and Yoga Nidra Workshops.
Sodem Road . Tyringham, MA
Since there are special events at the Garden, check Tracy’s website to confirm class.
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