Jenni Fox remembers Ram Dass's saying, "Relationship is the best seminar in town." For her and Paul Gould, relationship is an ongoing practice, like the yoga that's so much a part of their lives. "When two people get together, they need a third point to focus on. For many couples, this is a child. For us, it's yoga."
The two met eight years ago at a Nia technique workshop in Portland, Oregon. (Nia is a "spiritual sweat," a movement technique combining elements of yoga, jazz, and modern dance for a mind-body-spirit approach to fitness.) Fox was teaching both yoga and Nia; Gould was a longtime meditator and personal trainer.
Their meeting had every earmark of destiny: An astrologer had told Gould the week before that he would meet a Leo, begin a serious relationship, move, and change careers. Fox, at home in San Francisco and preparing for a teaching stint at Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico, had a premonition she should attend the workshop. On the way there, she said, "Okay, God, the man who comes into my life needs to be emotionally available, involved in my work, and like to dance. Make him tall and give him a ponytail." The Leo and the guy with the ponytail met that weekend and have been inseparable ever since.
Gould had been a commodities futures trader and land developer. He had acquired a lot and lost a lot. "I learned to be nonattached, patient, compassionate, nonharming," he says. "I learned to love people, no matter how they were behaving. Those lessons put me on the path I needed to be on."
With all these yogic traits in place, Gould was ripe for joining Fox in yoga practice. "He was a quick study with asanas," Fox says. "I think he was a yogi in a past life." Today, the two teach yoga and Nia together in Santa Cruz, California, and travel worldwide offering "Joy of Yoga" retreats through their company, Yoga-Nia Adventures. They have plans to open a center in Northern California, and they are also under contract to write a book about the healing power of yoga.
"Yoga is such an all-encompassing philosophy and science," says Gould. "Our relationship is grounded in it. It's a positive spiral: The practice deepens our relationship, which deepens our practice, which deepens the spiral."
Seeing many people caught in negative spirals, Gould and Fox aim to model something higher for their students. They teach together much of the time, offering the benefits of two sets of hands and eyes, male and female energy, and evidence of what a good relationship can be. And they're grateful for theirs.
"Living a life consciously can be frightening," says Fox. "You never know if you're going to have enough strength and commitment to live with integrity, beauty, honesty, and power. It helps if you have someone to share that with."