A little history of my path to yoga – written in Dec 2012 after my first yoga teacher training:
I just graduated from my first yoga teacher training course. I say first because there is SO much to learn from this ancient philosophy….and my studies will continue for the rest of my life. I like to think that I know a bit about it now, at least enough to teach and write about it! So. Yoga. It’s just stretching, right? I vaguely remember asking this question when I first heard about this…yoga…back in the day when I was more concerned with becoming fit to make sure my butt looked awesome in my new pair of jeans while I was out drinking at every $1 highball deal in the city….ahh University….good times indeed. How can you get fit from stretching? Well, I looked it up on the internet a bit, and quickly lost interest when all I could find was 6 minute long videos of people I could not relate too (are they praying at the beginning?), from what I could see, stretching. I shrugged it off and continued to keep up my not-so-routine gym routine by running on the treadmill, struggling to make it to the 30 minute mark and see that coveted ‘1000 calories burned’ come up on the screen every month or so. Clearly this ‘routine’ wasn’t helping me get in shape….I’m moving to Australia soon, I need to look good in a bikini!
When a workmate asked me to sign up for a 6 week beginner yoga class with her I obliged since I wanted to get fit and was rather curious about it, having read interviews with Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna claiming they only did yoga to stay in shape. The cost of yoga had always kept me away from the studios, I was a student on a budget: $20 a month at a gym I hardly use was a way better deal than over $100 at a yoga studio! This beginner class had a reasonable price attached to it so I really had no other objection. I did not have the instant connection with yoga that many teachers say they have had. I thought it was weird, I thought they were trying to get me to pray to god (I had strict atheist beliefs at this time), and whats with the OMMMM at the beginning? I also left feeling super sore and didn’t like how long the postures were held, down facing dog is hard when you have never done it before! I made it to a few classes and opted to nap on my couch at home during the rest…and then moved to Australia with a bad taste for yoga in my mouth.
I was pretty bored in Aussie land during my two years there. I moved there to take my Masters in Genetic Counselling, but dropped out after an enlightened trip to India (India trip circa 2009 – still avoided the yoga). I started running almost everyday out of boredom and quickly became an addict of the almighty endorphins produced. Flash forward to moving back to Canada: my boredom in Australia faded quickly and I settled nicely into my old life, crazy partying and all. So what finally nudged me into yoga? It started with a bad break up. An emotionally broken Ashley, feeling ridiculously lost and unhappy despite being surrounded by family and friends and all the comforts of home, started running again. I remembered those endorphins that I clung onto to find happiness away from my life on the other side of the world….I ran and I ran and I ran but the running was no longer doing the trick! My friend had invited me on a yoga & tea date one evening, I hadn’t seen her since I was back so I decided to go, despite thinking it was a strange way to hang out. We went to an Ashtanga class that night and wow…instant relief! During tea she updated me on her new path in life…yoga had transformed it completely….no stress, no worry, true happiness and an added bonus: the best body ever! Needless to say, I was intrigued …. and this is where my yoga journey began!
I started reading about yoga while I was pretending to work at my day job, and cashed in on every Groupon available for yoga in the city. So many kinds to choose from! I really enjoyed the Ashtanga class but I’m a scientist through and through and needed to test them all before arriving at a conclusion, besides, it happened to be at this exact same studio where I had the beginners class I didn’t like. I tried Bikram: not for me….its way too military. I tried other hot yoga: I went about 5 times a week for the month I had the coupon for, but didn’t go back because it was way too busy and sweaty. I tried yoga at a gym: It was flailing your arms to Taylor Swift music. I tried Hatha: a bit too slow for me, but getting closer.
I finally ended up back at that exact same Ashtanga class my friend had brought me to for our yoga date. The pace, the sequencing, the challenge! I love it! I ended up devoting my yoga practise to this studios Sattva yoga (Ashtanga inspired) – it just clicked so effortlessly. I was introduced to pranayama (breathing techniques) and meditation here as well, both practises I didn’t have a desire to seek out, but they found me…thankfully. It was here that I came to realize that yoga isn’t just stretching. I began to see how clear and calm my mind became. How my stress and anxiety completely evaporated from my life. I was walking around with a perma-grin on my face. “Why are you smiling Ash?” “I dunno, its from yoga I guess!”. All of this peaked my curiosity, what IS going on here? Going to the studio and getting on my mat to practise became something that I looked forward to, the gym had never had this appeal….I even managed to make it to 6 am classes for 9 months straight, unheard of for a life long morning sloth! I can’t even describe how clear I was beginning to see my life…it was taking a whole new direction…I no longer had the desire to drink and party much anymore (if the extra special occasion calls for it, I’m totally there though!). I started to question why I was settling for mindless work that wasn’t important to me, and quit soon after. I was so happy just being me and being by myself, something I had never truly felt before.
I spent the following two years building and strengthening my practise with the ultimate goal of taking yoga teacher training in India. Now that I have my Ashtanga/vinyasa flow teacher certification, my goal is to spread the love, the happiness, the ancient practice of yoga to everyone that wants to live an effortlessly joyful, stress free life. I want to make yoga relatable to even the biggest of skeptics, because believe me when I say “I understand! I was there!”. I want to help people find true happiness, peace, and security….because, as I’ve learned through continuous devotion and surrender to the yoga, this stuff only comes from within.