Francisco Morales will be at Casa Om July 19-26 to offer a Synergy Partner Yoga teacher training. Blogger Kathryn E. Livingston asked him some questions about his path as well as about this fun and healing partner yoga practice. Synergy is a healing art that incorporates Thai massage, flying, and partner stretching.
Q: Is your teacher training for individuals who are already teachers?
A: It’s for anyone who really wants to learn this art. Participants should have some understanding of the body, but not in a professional sense. This therapeutic partner yoga is for those who really want to learn more about healing touch, and how it relates to trust, communication and playful energy. It’s for people who want to learn more about this particular art to the point of becoming teachers and sharing this practice with others.
Q: What is a typical class like?
A: There is a framework to the practice, to how we teach it. A class generally starts with a circle. We do a circle exercise to get everyone grounded and ready to move on to the other elements of the practice. Also, in the circle you are able to identify people’s hip mobility, the flexibility in their knees, and other little subtleties in the body. Then we move on to some warm up exercises to warm up the body slowly and create a little bit more blood movement. From there we go into some partner stretching techniques, some flying techniques and Thai massage and then we regroup in a circle. These are the different elements of the practice.
Q: How did you get into this practice?
A: Just by bringing a lot of things that I love together. First of all, Capoeira Angola, which is an Afro-Brazilian martial art, with Mestre Cobra Mansa. Capoeira is a way of life and remains my home. Then I studied in an ashram in Maryland; the guru there was a Peruvian astrologist. And that was more like a Sivananda, Hatha yoga practice. Then I studied with Bikram and with Dharma Mittra.
Q: How did you get into Synergy?
A: Before I did all that I was doing bodywork for a long time. My biggest background is in massage, and I’ve been doing massage for a very long time. I was interested in healing the body in part because when I was younger I put my body through the wringer. I played a lot of sports. Sometimes calamity is your best teacher!
Q: What sports did you play?
A: In high school I had too much energy and the best way to get it out was through sports. I was the captain of the wrestling team, the soccer team, and the football team. Then I played soccer and rugby at the university.
Q: So from there you got into yoga to heal your body?
A: Yes, but I also got into yoga because one year I asked my mom what she wanted for her birthday and she asked me to go with her to a yoga class! So we went. Then I got more deeply into it because I wanted to heal some injuries. When I was a kid I broke the windshield of the car with my body in a car accident and I woke up in the ambulance. I had a concussion and that kind of traumatized my spine. So that was the big one, but the experience introduced me to appreciating hanging and traction. Yoga helps you make traction and evoke the muscles to maintain traction, with the uddiyana bandha. A lot of the partner stretching and flying assists that as well.
Q: Where did you go from there?
A: My intention was to serve people. I started the practice of Acroyoga with a couple of friends. The thing I really liked about the Acroyoga was that we could provide a lot of therapeutics, flying, and Thai massage, but as it grew in popularity I found that I needed a time to reflect. I moved to Virginia, began teaching daily yoga, and led a very simple life for about a year. Then a friend from DC invited me to teach at a workshop; I went and my love for teaching the practice was rekindled. Another friend suggested the name Synergy because it blends all three arts together and is greater than any one would be just by itself. That’s pretty much the history of why Synergy started.
Q: So Synergy is your brainchild?
A: It didn’t take too much brain. It was more like “Wow, this feels really good and it’s really healing for people and it really brings people together in a loving way!”
Q: It’s a weeklong training at Casa Om?
A: Yes, with five months of continuing education. Also, we’re going to have a guest teacher from the Mayan community one day. He will teach about the different Mayan ways of doing healing touch. Brian Tjon Tjauw Liem is also coming; he’s from The Netherlands, but he lives in Peru. He is an amazing man; he’s one of the best dancers in the world and a threefold National Youth Ballroom dancing champion. He’s a very dynamic being and it’s going to be great to have him there.
Q: Sounds like a fantastic training! What would you most like the participants to come away with?
A: The confidence to share this practice with love and understanding, and in a clear and loving way.