As the class starts to settle in for Robin and Corey Costanzo’s restorative yoga and digeridoo meditation on Friday afternoon, Robin looks out at the class. “This is smaller class than usual,” she says to the students. “Let’s make a circle instead.”
The class consists of four or five poses, all completely supported by bolsters, blankets, blocks and, of course, lavender smelling eye pillows. Students immediately drop into a deep sigh. The instructors hold the space at Asheville Community Yoga to release the stress of the week and let their mind and body rest. Corey Costanzo and Timothy Burgin, another local yoga instructor, choose different instruments to play as they walk around the room and give attention to each student. A gentle rain stick sets a soft background noise to soften the body onto the props — an African kalimba evokes a delicate higher tone while the digeridoo creates a strong, fluid sound around the circle.
“The music and sounds can evoke different emotions in the student,” Corey Costanzo says. “It is interesting what one sound can do to one person, and another can have a completely different experience. It plays on emotions and anxieties that are unique to each person.” Their combination class provides the grounds for students to experiment with what comes up for them in a supportive environment. As the students shift poses, the music changes as well.
Robin Costanzo’s calming words and gentle assists throughout the class create the structure for people to examine emotions, anxiety and stress in a supportive environment. A masseuse and yoga instructor for 15 years at Esalen, the 44-year-old is currently receiving her 500-hour training at Asheville Community Yoga with Kolaveri. “The yoga practice is steeped in mindfulness,” Robin says. “We approach the student as an individual, not as someone that needs to be fixed.”
Having met where they both worked at Esalen Institute, a holistic center and hot springs in California, the two have since collaborated their efforts to provide a well-rounded therapeutic experience for students and patients. In addition to their weekly class at the yoga studio, the couple recently reopened Stillpoint Wellness in downtown Asheville. While Robin Costanzo offers massage and therapeutic yoga in one room, Corey Costanzo, a certified somatic psychologist, offers sessions in the room next door. The two work in tandem, providing a retreat-like experience in the center of Asheville.
Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of their retreat center is a flotation tank — the chance to be completely devoid of sensory stimulation for an hour. The black box is about 10 by 12 feet, contains a filtration system, and the body is suspended in the water with a a half ton of Epsom salt.
“The experience is like no other,” Corey Costanzo says about the tank. “You can literally just let yourself be suspended and observe your thoughts. It is like a floating savasana. People who float regularly, report a deeper understanding and the ability to transform stressful patterns, habits and beliefs into new strategies for success and happiness.”
Their new center also offers aura imaging, which is a biofeedback system based on the body’s temperature. Their vision is to create a wellness center and retreat experience in the middle of downtown. A day could involve an hour float, massage, somatic therapy session and yoga. Or you could spread it out over two days.
“The body is a container to hold emotions,” Corey Costanzo says. “The biochemical release in brain triggers to release chemicals. We work to help someone notice how thoughts influence the body and how to regulate emotional responses.”
“It’s just getting present and mindful,” Robin Costanzo says about the connection of yoga, therapy, and sound healing. “They are perfect just the way they are. They just need to shift within. It is being present with people. It is about empowering them, not trying to fix or change anything. I try to convey that, to help support and help them realize that it’s all there in that moment.”
For more information on the restorative yoga with digeridoo meditation, or the Costanzo’s new wellness center, visit www.stillpointwell.com.
Kate Lundquist is a yoga instructor and freelance writer in Asheville, N.C. Her website is www.facebook.com/katelundquistyogaandwriting