Retreat Goddess Aarona Ganesan on Yoga, Travel, Oracle Cards + More
October 5, 2015
Whether she is leading us through an inspired yoga practice or guiding us through a healing session from her own set of oracle cards, Aarona Ganesan is by far one of our most inspiring guides.
We took time to speak with Aarona on our upcoming retreats and got to know one of our favorite teachers a little bit more.
Aarona, we are so excited to have you as a retreat leader for YOGASCAPES! Can you tell us a little bit about why you love leading retreats?
Travel has always been a love of mine. For one, I live in Brooklyn/NYC and as much as I thrive in the culture here, I need a break from the city and a deep dive into nature – so travel is one of the ways I get to soak it up.
I also love seeing this planet and all of it’s magic, experiencing different cultures and people, exploring new lands; I’ve always loved this since I was a child.
Retreats are an amazing way to work. I blend my passion for teaching, guiding groups, travel, culture, nature, art – into one amazing experience. I love seeing a retreat group transform from beginning to end. No matter the trip, there is a huge shift for everyone. They arrive with the weight of the world on their shoulders, a little shy, or tense, and stepping out of that world and into a more vast world of travel lightens their load. It’s amazing to see physically, mentally and energetically.
You’ve been practicing for 20+ years and teaching for 12+. Why yoga? What is yoga to you? What do you hope your students get out of your teachings?
I‘ve always been a mover my entire life: karate, dance, ice skating, hiking, etc. In retrospect, I think I was doing yoga before I even know what I was doing with all of my made up stretches and poses. But when it really whisked me away was at 19 when I was going through a bit of a depression.
I was in my final years of getting my BFA in photography, and went home to LA where my older brother Sean introduced me to Kundalini classes with Guru Singh. I was totally and completely blown away and studied the entire summer. When I returned to Connecticut where I was in college, I found whatever yoga I could, which was an Ashtanga/Hatha fusion. I stuck with it, explored many styles over the years, and it eventually became such huge part of my lifestyle that I didn’t want it to feel separate from my work anymore.
I hope my students allow yoga to really become a part of their lifestyle. That they truly realize that even though the practice of yoga may ebb and flow throughout life, with consistency and willingness to show up again and again, regardless of what life is throwing at them, yoga will still be there for them. And it is the cumulative impact that makes such a profound shift in our body, our mind, and in our life. I often remind students to throw the all or nothing mentality out. Show up for 10 to 20 minutes if that is all you can do. It will benefit you and ripple into many other aspects of your life.
Tell us a bit about your other endeavors, specifically “The Moon Deck” / “Yoga Soundscape?”
The Moon Deck is an oracle set to stoke the powers of intention and ritual. It’s a set of 44 cards with gorgeous and inspiring illustrations and mantras, and an accompanying booklet full of insights, lessons, and rituals tailored to each card. It also comes in a handcrafted wooden box. It’s inspired by the cyclical beauty of the moon and the inherent wisdom of women and shares experience and insights on cycles, growth, intuition, change, purpose, transformation, creativity, and beauty. We also hope The Moon Deck contributes to the rise of sisterhood and women coming together with more self-love and support for one another.
Creating a deck has been a dream project since 2010. I didn’t know what the theme would be or what it would look like exactly back then, but I knew I wanted to create my own deck. Oracle, affirmation, tarot – all of these decks have been so helpful in my own healing and meditations. I am a very visual person. So, to see a beautiful card with a simple yet powerful word and image combination was very attractive and digestible for me. I’m super excited to see The Moon Deck out in the world soon! We are in beginning to lean into our final production stages.
Yoga Soundscape started in 2008 and has evolved from DJ’d classes to world class musicians since. About once a year I do a Yoga Soundscape on a mass scale with a 5-7 piece orchestra (NY and Icleand) and I do weekly classes every Friday night at Kula Yoga in Tribeca. The music ranges from healing crystal bowls to upbeat percussion to gliding string instruments to electronic vibes. And the music always shapes the class. I am a huge music lover and am lucky enough to be in a talented community of musicians. Plus grew up with a lot of music around me. My father was a music manager for Motown, Johnny Cash, and Stevie Nicks before she went off to Fleetwood Mac way back in the day.
In many ways, Yoga Soundscape planted the seed for The Moon Deck. I used to paint my own words and mantras on small pieces of paper and hand them out on student’s yoga mats. Then I started to pass out cards from my favorite decks and wished I had my own to pass out! Lately I’ve been having students write their own mantras and inspirations at the beginning of class which has been really well received.
Why is Peru a great place for a yoga retreat and a special place in general? What are you most excited about for this upcoming retreat?
Peru is an incredibly magical place. The last time I was there was 2009. I am pretty excited to go back as a new version of myself. The people, the land, the air, and the vibration of this land is incredibly high. The prana here is a direct reflection of the power and beauty of our planet. Peru deeply connects me to earth. And is a reminder of the magic and beauty that this planet is made of. This is such a great place for a retreat because we will be supplementing all of the epic hiking and site seeing with yoga and nourishing food. It’s an incredibly well rounded trip.
You mention opening the 3rd and 4th chakras in Peru – how are you going to do so?
The land itself will do this! I will simply help to facilitate it in the yoga and meditation classes I lead – which will focus on the solar plexus and heart – amongst the rest of the body. The land is covered in green – the color of our heart chakras. We will be breathing this in every day. Because the land is so abundant and the sacred sites are so auspicious and incredible, I truly feel Peru is a place that connects us to our roots and an important piece of our history. It is empowering to witness. When we feel connected to our land, to our history, to the earth – our solar plexus and our heart will vibrate at a higher frequency which will create great resilience, strength and connection.
You are also leading our FP Escapes trip to Yelapa, Mexico. Why are you excited to be a part of this trip? What are you most excited about? What do you hope the participants gain?
I am SO thrilled for this trip! And honored to have been invited. I’ve been to the Xinalani Retreat center years ago when I was a participant on a retreat. And it’s a beautiful place. I love Free People and am happy to help represent this trip. My main hope is that participants can experience a healthier connection to their body, bring yoga and meditation into their life in a more meaningful way, and walk away inspired and fired up to unleash their creative potential.
Plus for me personally, getting out of the city during the winter and into the sun is crucial. So I’m also psyched for this!
In general, what do you hope the participants take from you throughout the upcoming retreats?
In general, for any retreat, I want participants to take away an experience of wholeness and connection. I think our world desperately needs more self-love and self-approval. Thankfully we benefit from this – but more so we become healthier and happier vessels to give back and create beauty in the world. We may all do this in different ways, yet I truly believe that stepping out of your norm and into a retreat will help reset our system and our perspective so that we feel more at home in our body and more connected to the collective experience.
I also want participants to see that they can speak to me, that I am approachable, that I share many of the same struggles and triumphs as they do, and hopefully take away some of the tools that have helped my own growth and healing.
What’s one quote that inspires you?
For travel: “I love the abstract, delicate, profound, vague, voluptuously wordless sensation of living ecstatically.” – Anais Nin
Other inspiration:”Beauty (in native wisdom) refers to a very specific perception of the world, one informed by elegant balance and harmony…..I believe that each of us is responsible for and capable of walking the path that our spirit dictates. That is, walking in Beauty. If you want this in your life, you can learn to listen to your spirit.” – Ana Forrest
“We can make room for difficult feelings to move through the body and breathe with gentle acceptance. In doing so, the shadow energies dissipate, integrate and resolve.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Besides yoga, what do you like to do for fun?
I love meeting up with my girlfriends, whether we are enjoying a night of dinner and wine, a yoga class, a juice date, or our monthly new moon circle. Also, writing, traveling, putting together music playlists and discovering new music, street fairs and farmers markets, aimless long walks throughout Brooklyn or Manhattan, adventures with my husband, and one of my favorites is collaborating and connecting with inspiring people.
What’s one thing no one would know about you?
I have a BFA in photography and mixed media arts. Above all else, I see, think, translate, organize and feel as an artist. I can also dilate my pupils on will.