Born in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwestern Virginia, Ashley Bell was a deeply introverted child who found comfort and confidence through the expressive power of the arts. A lover of painting and writing, she graduated from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia with a double major in studio art and journalism for the print media. Following several positions at non-profits designed to uplift communities through the arts and education, she moved to Manhattan to attend Columbia University’s Teachers College. There Bell received a master’s degree in Art and Art Education, focusing on coursework rooted in human development, aesthetic awareness and the power of medium and message to liberate us individually and collectively.
Upon arriving in Charleston, Ashley taught art in two public schools and later served as lead teacher in an arts-integrated multi-age preschool, where she coordinated activities in the art room. During this time she painted sporadically, mostly in support of local non-profits through charity art shows and silent auctions. She later became the caretaker of her grandmother's sewing machine, using it to make simple tunics and skirts for her daughter, friends of her daughter and daughters of her friends. At his request, Bell even stretched her skills to make a dashiki for her son's preschool graduation. While art was her earliest passion, most of her professional career has revolved around the teaching of yoga.
Shortly after arriving in the Charleston, SC, in 1999, Ashley discovered yoga while seeking ways to manage the stress of working in two underserved public schools. Yoga was the most direct method she found for fulfilling her mission to empower students to embrace their individuality and recognize its value to the world at large. Since completing her first 200-hour training in 2003, Bell has been teaching yoga anywhere and everywhere, sometimes logging as many as 1500 miles in one month traveling to studios and private spaces in Charleston County alone. She has taught workshops throughout the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, serves on the faculty at the College of Charleston and has E-RYT 500 and YACEP designations from the Yoga Alliance.
In August on 2018, Bell accepted a position with Engaging Creative Minds, a non-profit serving students and teachers in Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley Counties. She works with four Title-1 elementary schools to facilitate standards-based, arts-integrated learning experiences with artists and STEM specialists in week-long residencies. Ashley currently teaches in the Department of Health and Human Performance at the College of Charleston, serves on the faculty of teacher training programs, and connects with yoga students in a limited number of private individual and group sessions. She remains curious about which philosophies and methodologies best inspire individuals to see their own potential and uniqueness as it relates to the deep and essential connection we have to all life/lives on earth. She has committed to return to a more disciplined practice of the creative processes that initially inspired her to teach and to spend more time with her beautiful family.