"When I was really young, a Native American psychic told me that my mother speaks to me through crystals and is in the crystals," says Ava Levine of Ritual Yoga in Laguna Beach. She had lost her mother to addiction when she was 3. "They've always been a part of who I am and what I do. Using them with other healing modalities, like essential oils and singing-bowls, make for a really powerful experience, especially with the yoga I do now, which is why I like working with people who are going through rehabilitation."
Levine is a healing solutionary, someone who uses crystals, sound-healing singing-bowls and essential oils in her yoga classes. She got into yoga in middle school, when her best friend's mom worked at the Bikram Yoga in Encino and guided Levine and her friend through the Hatha postures. "We used to practice in her living room," recalls Levine. "I loved it. It was such a beautiful introduction. It was really transformative and detoxifying for me as a young adult, which sparked my interest to explore the healing arts and doing a lot of the things I do now."
Many moons later, she relocated to San Diego, where she began leading guided meditations for people detoxing from drugs. Her success as a meditation guide led Levine to explore massage therapy, seeing as many as eight clients per day. After a particularly long time of manually healing bodies, her arm got stuck in the socket, keeping her from being able to massage. "Yoga was the only thing that worked," Levine says. "It actually healed me, which I took as a sign to deepen my practice."
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Since then, she has completed nearly 500 hours of cumulative yoga training and is certified in various areas, including Reiki, healing touch and sacred space designing. "I've broken down and faced my wounds while getting my certifications," says Levine. "But I had to in order to find my own healing so I could be a better, more empathic healer, rather than someone who just goes through the motions, and then leads other people through the motions."
Levine's gift lies in the way she's able to guide her students to deep meditative states. Whether a yoga or meditation class, she activates multiple senses by projecting stars onto the studio-room ceiling, spraying essential oils and playing singing-bowls while walking around the room, focusing on each student.
"My classes are a lot like playpens for adults," says Levine with a laugh. "But the most important thing about what I do is provide scientific knowledge, like the fact that frankincense pulls 70 percent to 80 percent more oxygen into the brain, creates a meditative state, helps cure cancer and is an anti-inflammatory. Because of its healing properties, it was once more expensive than gold. It's so healthy for us, which is why I use that modality in class. . . . The science adds another layer of understanding and makes it so much fun."
Between the sound healings, yoga, fire spinning and other certifications, Levine is also an ordained minister, once officiating a wedding in the dust at Burning Man. "It was really great," Levine says, giggling. "But the more you call yourself a minister, prophet or master, I feel like people are looking at you for perfection, and I'm the furthest from that. I'm just a reflection, and sometimes that's more powerful than anything else."