Apr 21

Private Yoga & A 5-Star Spa

Jennifer Pansa at Acqualina Resort & Spa. Photo: Acqualina Spa by ESPA

Jennifer Pansa at Acqualina Resort & Spa. Photo: Acqualina Spa by ESPA

A private yoga class has always sounded like something reserved for the stars. (Maybe I’ve watched a few too many episodes of E! News over the years with reports of Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna’s private yoga instructors whipping them into immaculate shape.) It’s not that it sounded unattainable, but perhaps unnecessary. I’ve enjoyed a solid group class practice for over a decade now and I’ve always managed to find studios and teachers just right for me in every city I’ve lived in (exhale Spa in New York City, Shakti Yoga and Bikram in Key West and Green Monkey here in South Beach). I suppose I’ve even indadvertedly had a private lesson or two when I’ve been the only yogi to show up to a group class. And I’m no stranger to private apparatus Pilates lessons as I got to work with my best friend and rockstar Pilates teacher Krista when she was training for her certification many moons ago.

So when I was invited to Acqualina Resort & Spa last week for a private yoga class followed by a fitness massage, I jumped at the opportunity. YOGiiZA, the Miami-based organic yoga apparel and lifestyle brand, has teamed up with the Forbes 5-Star Sunny Isles Beach resort to offer a variety of private fitness and wellness programs for its guests, including yoga, mat Pilates, personal training, and health and wellness coaching.

I was particularly excited for the chance to practice yoga one-on-one because I’m working on ramping up my fitness routine to prepare for my upcoming two week surf trip in June. You may recall that my 2014 travel resolution is to go to surf camp in Costa Rica. Well, I’ve doubled down on that resolution and I’ll be joining a group of friends at a home in Nicaragua by the Panga Drops for a week before making my way to Witch’s Rock Surf Camp in Tamarindo, Costa Rica for another week. I want to get my body conditioned to take full advantage of this opportunity to really learn to surf.

The Yoga Lesson

Prior to my private yoga class at Acqualina, Dawn Oliver (who co-founded YOGiiZA with her husband Mark) got in touch to learn about my current yoga and fitness routine so that she could pair me with the perfect teacher. And that she did! I had a quick and easy connection with my teacher Jennifer Pansa as soon as I met her. We chatted briefly and learned that we’re both from the west coast and grew up loving the outdoors (she in the mountains of Colorado and I at the beach in California). She’d even spent a month surfing in the same town in Costa Rica that I’m heading to.

We practiced inside one of the spa’s relaxation rooms (you can also opt for outside on the oceanfront), and Jennifer led a class that was both vigorous and thoughtful. She’s a knowledgeable and creative teacher, and she used ocean metaphors and identified which muscles I’d be using from my chaturanga and upward facing dog postures when I pop up on the surfboard. The greatest benefit was personalized modifications to draw greater awareness and get me deeper into some of my poses.

Specifically, she helped me lengthen my downward facing dog and I can already feel the difference in my back and shoulders. She also helped me draw awareness to my shoulder carriage when transitioning from upward facing dog to downward facing dog, and she gave me the tools I need to practice crow pose and head stand more effectively. Her upbeat and down-to-earth personality was a perfect match for my style, and she challenged me to go deeper in my standing poses and be even more aware of my alignment.

The Fitness Massage

I worked up a nice sweat with Jennifer and before I could catch my breath it was time to join my masseuse Elica Bendary for an 80-minute fitness massage. Her technique combined deep tissue massage with stretching and compression for a truly tension-melting experience. Her touch was both expansive and precise, soothing my muscles in vast sweeping motions and needling away the most acute pressure points. The end result was feeling loose as a noodle and totally blissful.

The spa’s ESPA body and skincare products are luxurious and effective. Through a scent test at the beginning of my treatment, I selected the body oil that was most appealing to me, and I lavished in a scalp massage with ESPA’s pink hair and scalp mud, which had the most pleasant juicy citrus scent. I also have a bottle of their newly launched proserum at home, which seems to work miracles. It brightens and moisturizes my complexion and magically softens and evens my skintone.

The spa’s facilities include a relaxing crystal steam room with light therapy, a Finnish dry sauna, an ice fountain and an experience shower. After my yoga class and massage, I was definitely ready to take advantage of these amenities. And I couldn’t leave before refueling with a fresh bento box lunch outside on the spa’s private pool deck and nibbling cookies and hot tea inside the women’s relaxation room in my robe and slippers.

As a Forbes 5-Star spa Acqualina is placed on a pretty lofty pedestal, especially considering the glut of luxurious spas to choose from in Miami. I think you can distill great hospitality down to the ability to make guests feel like they’re in good,capable hands, and Acqualina definitely delivers on that hallmark.

For a spa experience similar to mine, you can contact Acqualina Spa by ESPA by calling 855-223-4003.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...