Eric Stoneberg and Lucy Child Bring The Spiritual Into The Yoga Studio
The Andes mountains of Peru may not be the most likely place for two New York-based healers to meet, but that’s exactly where Eric Stoneberg and Lucy Child first got to know each other. Eric, a yoga teacher, was co-leading a yoga-and-shamanism expedition with his friend Kay Dougherty, a shaman in the Peruvian Celestial tradition, which works with the energy of the earth. Lucy, who is a singer-songwriter, sound healer, and the founder of Sacred Sound Tribe, was a member of the group. Lucy and Eric immediately connected. When she told him about the new moon double gong baths she and Emily Horowitz host monthly at Alphabet City Sanctuary, he was intrigued.
He went, found it “totally transformative,” and “was so inspired by what she was doing there [that he] knew it would be good to bring her into yoga.” That idea came to fruition this April, when the two launched a weekly 10 a.m. yoga class on Thursdays at Virayoga with live music by Lucy. Working with gongs, tuning forks, Tibetan and crystal bowls, and her own voice, Lucy creates a live soundscape inspired by Eric’s teaching and the energy of the class. He, in turn, responds with his word choice, imagery and use of asana. Her music, he explains, “enhances what I’m doing so much. Because we’re together, we do things we wouldn’t otherwise do. We’re really playing and experimenting.”
Eric’s yoga sequencing skillfully weaves in thematically appropriate asana and mudra. Challenging poses are taught at a gentle pace suitable for yogis of all ages and experience. Last month, each week’s class was themed around one of the elements. This month, the focus has been on a different goddess week to week. In a recent session focused on Lakshmi, Eric shared a mudra that imitates the shape of a conch shell, a symbol of abundance that this goddess of prosperity is frequently pictured holding.
Throughout the 90 minutes, he continually described imagery surrounding the goddess and reminded students that their lives were “the currency of the divine,” like the golden coins that fall from Lakshmi’s hand. When he told the class that the mantra “SHREE-HEE” is one of Lakshmi’s seed syllables, Lucy proceeded to chant the mantra during the next few asanas, bathing participants in the vibrations of the sacred sounds.
A longtime student and follower of goddess Tantra, Eric states that his “goal is to make these fairly esoteric teachings accessible.” He compares his collaboration with Lucy to the Tantric idea that one plus one equals three. In addition to bringing their individual expertise in healing through yoga and sound to the class, Lucy and Eric are also working jointly with the Peruvian shamanism they both study, so in a way, one plus one does equal three.
Take their class, and perhaps you will better understand - not with your mind - but on a far subtler vibrational level. Eric explains, “it’s not just yoga. Ritual, healing, ceremony, this is all a big part of the flavor.” The ceremonial quality that both leaders create in the class is a major draw for participants. Eric says he sees people “really wanting to create sacredness in their daily lives.”
After the very first class, he recalls a student coming up to him and saying, “wow, I’ve actually never felt like that in a yoga class in my life.” Not surprisingly, she returned the following week for another dose of the potent blend of Eric’s poetic Tantra-inspired teaching and Lucy’s soothing instrumentals and vocals.
Eric and Lucy will travel together again on July 14th, this time to Growing Heart Farm which, at 75 miles north of the city, is a lot closer than Peru. At the farm, they will offer a yoga earth ceremony followed by a farm-to-table dinner.
After traveling so far to initially connect over the worship of the earth, it seems only fitting that this playful and powerful pair should once again unite in nature and, through ceremony, allow others to absorb the healing energy of the earth.
- Emily Haydock, for more of Emily's work, click here.