It’s a blessed delight to sit across from two lovers and ask, “how did you fall in love?” After all, countless families, generations and traditions are born from the love between two people — the yoke. Now, add yoga to the center of their story and pearls have indeed been formed. Such are the beginnings of Dr. Candace Harding, a physical therapist, and handstand master Ahmed Jabali-Nash, whose shared love for yoga and dedication to synchronicity binds them tighter than svarga dvijasana (bird of paradise).
Before falling in love with each other, they fell in love with movement, breathwork and ultimately yoga. In finding yoga, Harding reflects, “I feel like it helped me get in tune with myself and realize I had been closed off and very segmented with my life.” Similarly, Jabali-Nash was looking for something that was gentler to his body and sustainable in his life. “Yoga awakened me to know that it’s more than just asana … Our minds forget a lot of stuff but our bodies never let it go until we work through those things. The vulnerability of it … I’ve cried many times,” Jabali-Nash admits.
While yoga chiseled them into a direct path towards their truest selves, their connection to each other took a less direct path. The two met during a YTT in Virginia several years ago. Even though she was single, Harding admits she wasn’t looking for a relationship during her PT doctoral studies so she compartmentalized her time with him to just yoga, and maybe the occasional meal. But, after spending some time out of town and out of each other’s presence, she began to miss the space she didn’t realize she was holding for him; similar to yoga’s magnetism — we don’t realize the powerful effects it has on us until we stop showing up for it. After all the time spent in hesitation, Harding was the one who said “I love you” first.
As a synchronized yoga couple, many of their asanas show the deep undercurrents of their bond. Their bodies just seem to move with a kinetic power (that indeed took work). “When we first started dating, I was working on my handstands. He was trying to help me and I would get mad at him. I just wanted to feel things in my own body and go through my own process to figure it out,” Harding admits with a warm smile. Jabali-Nash reflects, “I was thinking back on her love language as ‘acts of service’ and ‘quality time’ thinking that I’m helping her. When she asks for it, that’s when I have a service to give.”
Jabali-Nash then shared inherited wisdom from the late Larry Shultz, his teacher and founder of Rocket Yoga, “we show up on the mat to learn how to love ourselves and in return we can love others more.” Jabali-Nash expressed of the yoga journey, “we show up broken and put ourselves together.” For every couple sharing a mat, what an honor it must be to put yourself together, together.
Micaela Valdés Rosario
Founder of Mindfully Messaged Writing Services
Writer, Mami + Yogi at Meditations In Prose