Considering Yoga? for Natural Awakenings (Sept. 2016 Issue)

While many seek out yoga for stress reduction, the challenge of finding an accessible class can create its own level of anxiety for potential students. According to a 2016 study conducted by the Yoga Alliance, 61 percent of yoga practitioners come to yoga seeking flexibility, with 56 percent attending for stress management and 49 percent to improve overall health. Holistic health professionals and traditional doctors routinely suggest yoga for patients and clients who need to develop greater body awareness, mobility and stability. And yet, the prerequisite level of flexibility and strength required to safely and skillfully participate in a majority of classes eludes many, if not most people.

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Turn and Face the Strange (originally published on 1/22/18)

This post appeared on the blog page of Reverb Charleston, a project Ashley started in 2015 to help make yoga more accessible across common physical, philosophical and socioeconomic barriers to the practice.  Problems with the construction of the space forced the business to close after only 10 months, but all things tend to happen for a reason, don't they?  This post shares my mindset during the last week of that 10-month journey.

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Accessibility: The Money Issue (originally published 3/22/17)

This post appeared on the blog page of Reverb Charleston, a project Ashley started in 2015 to help make yoga more accessible across common physical, philosophical and socioeconomic barriers to the practice.  Problems with the construction of the space forced the business to close after only 10 months, but all things tend to happen for a reason, don't they?  This post outlines efforts around financial accessibility and is shared in the hopes that others may find it useful in reaching those in need of the relief from emotional and physical pain that yoga may provide.

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Growing Your Yoga Teaching: Beyond Traditional Trainings (originally published 4/12/16)

I’ve had a half-a-dozen or so yoga teachers ask me lately about 300-hour program recommendations (which lead to a RYT 500-hr certification), each sharing this sentiment almost verbatim: “I feel like I’m ready for more.” It’s a common response that I believe arises for two main reasons. First, it’s lovely to be immersed in studentship, so after awhile we begin to crave that cozy YTT learning environment again. Second, once the initial excitement of teaching wears off and we settle into a routine with the work, it’s easy to crave something new and different. While I believe that 300-hour trainings certainly can be a great investment, they aren’t the only way to learn more and improve as a teacher.

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The Heart is the Little Engine that Can (originally published 10/20/15)

I’ve probably only run twice in the last year, maybe even months.  I went through periods earlier in my life where I ran with more regularity.  When I was in my early to mid 20s, I ran toward some unknown solution, an indeterminate destination, the person I thought I was supposed to be but couldn’t see very clearly.  In my late 20s and early 30s I ran to get away – from responsibility, from pain, from promises I didn’t know how to keep.  But I never felt like a runner. “I run,” I would say if it came up in conversation, “but I’m not a runner.”

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Lost in the Light* (originally published 4/25/15)

Last night marked the end of a difficult day. I’m prone to depression and certain conditions and hormonal shifts can kick it into high gear. I’ve learned to manage it, but those with first-hand personal experience understand it’s not something you can “shake off” as well-intentioned folks will often suggest. When it grabs me, this feeling, it seems as though my brain is the dark mysterious inky liquid in the Magic-8-Ball, but the answers just won’t float to the surface. Last night after the children had gone to bed, even the sweet angelic face of my daughter peacefully slumbering next to me couldn’t raise the shadow. I worried about her future, her brother’s and mine, the fate of the world at large. I was tired but I couldn’t sleep.

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Circumstantial Effortlessness (originally published 11/10/14)

I inadvertently summed up the mission behind much of my yoga teaching in passing earlier this week, in the middle of a conversation that had nothing (but apparently everything) to do with yoga. I was discussing some parenting decisions with a friend – rationalizing and rethinking, and I found myself saying, “I don’t want to spend my time and energy trying to create situations and circumstances that make things easy for my children. I want them to have the skills and resources to find a sense of ease regardless of the circumstances.”

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Body Image and Attachment (originally published 11/25/13)

When I walk out of my bedroom door I am met with a reflection of myself in the bathroom mirror, which runs from counter (mid-thigh) height, up about three or four feet, and two to three strides to the right toward the sink, toilet and tub.  Sometimes I turn left into the rest of the apartment, but regardless it is hard to leave my room without coming face to face (or face to body) with myself in the mirror.  I noticed not too long ago my habit of coming out of my room and heading to the shower, taking a right and as I do frowning, or grimacing, or rolling my eyes at the sight of my ass in the mirror.  It’s a habit that seems fairly small and harmless, but one I’m working to change for various reasons.  We all have a personal narrative, an endlessly exhaustive collective of experiences that have brought us to this moment and our perception of who and how we are.  Some of these stories help us see ourselves honestly, some hold us back from going we need to grow.  Truth is always up for debate, but here’s the brief version of my personal story about body image:

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Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow* (originally published 11/10/13)

It seems as though every time I log onto the Facebooks these days an article or status update is attempting to define what yoga is and is not.  To label certain styles / methods / teachers / trainings / clothes / foods / practices as more or less “yogic”.  Good or bad.  Right or wrong.   Depending on the day and my mood my responses to such posts may vary, but overall I can say that it just bums me out.   So I decided to write about it.  Is that just me trying to convince people to see things my way because I don’t like that they are trying to convince people to see things their way?  I hope not.  But if so, I direct you to the Walt Whitman quote below…

I suppose it’s fair to point out that as a fairly independent spirit I’ve never had a difficult time living with perceived contradictions of identity.  To provide a simple example, I was captain of the cheerleading squad, but I wore my motorcycle jacket over my uniform.  I was never a joiner, or found any identity from belonging to one particular group or another.  When I read Walt Whitman for the first time it was quite validating: Do I contradict myself?  Very well then, I contradict myself.  I am large.  I contain multitudes.

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The Hero's Pancakes (originally published 9/22/13)

This morning I made pancakes for my children.

For some moms, this could be an every day statement.  No big deal.  For me, it feels like a major victory.  It’s probably been a year since I made my children a hot breakfast.  Looking at the positive, between their father and me, we’re able to provide food daily for our children, a sign of abundance that far surpasses what most in this world ever experience.  But I was born into a First World life.  As a parent and recovering perfectionist, I have gradually let go of many of the unrealistic expectations I had for myself before I had children, especially in the last two and half years I’ve spent as a single working mother.  Some unknown but very wise individual (not Shakespeare, despite regular attributions) said, “Expectation is the root of all heartache”, and I have definitely found that to be true.  Resisting the urge to compare myself to others has been particularly helpful too, although in truth I continue to practice letting go of expectation and comparison daily and probably always will.  So much expectation and comparison is connected to this notion that certain ways of being are “normal”.  As a teenager I was always trying in the most safe and innocuous of ways to demonstrate my “independence” from what “everyone else” was doing.  But when we do what we do to thumb our nose at the norms, we are just as bound by them as if we only do what we do to succumb.  Gradually I’m learning to find guidance from within without those filters of expectation and comparison.

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