It has been a long while since I have written in this yoga blog and it feels really good to be back. I hadn't written here because I had to spend most of my time and energy creating and successfully running my first yoga studio YogaWasi, which meant that I put most of my blog writing skills into that blog, although... I really missed having the freedom to write more personally, like I did here. To share more of myself as a wanderer versus as a "business owner".
Having my own yoga studio was an amazing and fulfilling experience here in Cusco, Peru, but, as some of you may have heard, I recently sold it in order to be free to go to the USA to have my first child, a little girl. Yeah, I am having a little girl!
After she is born, I intend to move to London with her kind and loving father and we will start a new life there together. So, as you can see, there have been so many changes over the past few years and I'm looking forward to catching up with you all.
Despite all the changes, moving around, etc... One thing that hasn't changed is my love for yoga principles, philosophy, and practice. When I first started this blog it was with the intention of inspiring and sharing. I have missed studying yoga in depth and so I hope that now that I have a bit more free time, I am going to pick it up again and share what I learn here.
Here are my intentions with this blog and therefore what you can expect to find here if you decide to subscribe to the blog or visit it in the future:
So, if you'd like to read about any of those things, please subscribe to the blog by clicking on the button/link below. I have no idea how often I will write, but I promise to only include high-quality and useful information. If you know of someone else who might be interested in the above topics too, feel free to share the link with them.
Oh! And please comment! I would love to hear from you, hear what is going on in your life, thoughts, cares, interests etc. If you have a question about yoga or ayurveda, etc, then ask! I'll research and research until I find the answer. If you'd like to see a video about pilates or something else, simply request it in the comments section :)
Love to you,
I would like to share with you my studies and experiences in the realm of Ayurveda. I beseech you to ask me questions so that I may better learn the answers myself and to be patient with me as I step along this path... this journey is to me a very blessed one and I am hoping that as we learn this science of life together we may in fact grow more closely together.
In the many years that I have been practicing yoga and studying Ayurveda, I have repeatedly observed that lifestyle choices, such as diet, exercise, and daily routine, can be a potent source of healing as well as a cause of disease. Many health problems seem intertwined with the stresses of daily life, family and relationship problems, and worries about job and money. Others are directly connected to eating the wrong kinds of food or getting too much or too little exercise. I have also grown more and more aware that illness provides us with an invitation for self-transformation, an opportunity to change our way of thinking, feeling, eating, and in general caring for ourselves and our lives. It never ceases to amaze and delight me how quickly and powerfully life can be set on the right track and balance restored simply through a proper diet, herbal medicines, meditation, an appropriate exercise program, and other purely natural means.
The remedies and notes in this blog come from my own personal experience and studies, based on principles and practices developed over centuries. The tradition of Ayurveda extends back over more than five thousand years of continuous daily practice, from ancient times to the present day. It is not a recently developed system of “alternative healing” but an enduring science of life that has never lost its integrity and essential nature. You can imagine how much wisdom it contains and how much practical knowledge it has accumulated over a span of five millennia!
The great sage-physician Charaka, one of the founders of Ayurvedic medicine, said, “A physician, though well versed in the knowledge and treatment of disease, who does not enter into the heart of the patient with the virtue of light and love, will not be able to heal the patient.” To the best of my ability, as I continue my own self-education and as I share with you what I have learned, I will follow this advice and I would urge you to follow it in using this knowledge to help others and to heal yourself.
Love is the essence of our life. I have written this blog with love, and I offer it to you, dear reader, with the hope that the suggestions offered here will become a vital part of your self-healing and continued well-being.
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.
I am unbelievably lucky to teach a class once a week to 3-7 amazing mothers here in Sedona and the Village of Oak Creek. We meet at one of their homes every single Thursday at 10 a.m. and I have to say that this class is by far my favorite one of the week. I absolutely love to watch these strong and extremely loving mothers become even more strong and calm and collected as the weeks pass on. I am always wowed by their ability to stay focused and present despite the occasional toy drill going off near them (or on them lol) during savasana, an occasional cry in the nearby kids play room, or a little monkey crawling on their backs while in child's pose or downward dog (I sometimes don't even need to assist, the kids do it for me heehe!) I think that my favorite part is the smiling... at the end of class we are all smiling. I want to share this experience with more mothers, so I've developed the following... please tell your friends and share the love.
What is a Yoga for Mom Class?
I understand how difficult it is to justify paying for a babysitter as well as a yoga class each day. It is also understood how challenging it is to get together with girlfriends during the week when the children are still at home and possibly not in school. The Yoga for Mom's Yoga Class offers you an opportunity to gather your girlfriends and the children at your home and to reward yourself with yoga and meditation as the kids play together... you know you deserve it. Ashley's empathic and intuitive teaching style creates a group yoga class that is challenging, yet rewarding. Aware that each group is different; she will read the energy and dynamic of the class and present a series of postures conducive to an engaging, deeply reflective session. This yoga class covers a full range of asanas: sitting, standing, balance, forward and back bends, twists, hip openers and sun salutations. So call your friends, pick a day of the week and a time that best works for everyone, and then simply make a commitment to honor and love yourself one day a week. Not only will your yoga practice help you remain centered and present throughout the rest of the week, it will also introduce your children to the power of mantra and breath work. It is so amazing to see and hear the effect of a simple "OM"... How one moment they are laughing, playing and making noise around you, but then they suddenly become calm and reflective when they hear you chanting a simple "Om" with your girlfriends. And let us not forget the benefits to your social life as well :)
Rate suggestions are based on groups of 5 women or more... groups that are smaller than 5 people, please consider adding a few dollars to cover transportation costs and aromatherapy expenses.
1 hour = $5 per mom
2 hours = $10 per mom
Yoga for Mom Testimonials
❤ It has been an absolute pleasure to work with Ashley practicing yoga. She truly cares about each person in the class and tries to suit her class to each students individual needs. She is also very knowledgeable with essential oils which I find fascinating. I'm also doing poses and yoga I never thought possible. Ashley is abundant with her knowledge of yoga, her compassion for her students and her love for teaching. Thank you Ashley!!!! ! Danielle G. - 2013 (Yoga for Mom Student)
❤ One would be honored to practice with an extraordinary teacher such as Ashley. Her knowledge, commitment and passion for yoga is present in all she does and teaches. She has a gift to be able to help and guide each individual with their own yoga practice. I feel blessed to have found Blessed Yoga! ~ Ruthy B. - 2013 (Yoga for Mom Student)
Sadhana: classes are ritual sadhanas (a groove to one's self). Blessed Yoga classes are breath inspired journeys that offer a complete spectrum (ha-tha) of rhythms from meditative and rejuvenating to the challenging and empowering. The wave of a class is created through cycles of effective and creative sequences (vinyasas) linked together through the breath. Every class is well-rounded : following the mandala of the body and asanas - to create whole body transformation of strength and fluidity, circulation and centering.
The Emphasis During Blessed Yoga Sadhana is on:
Bhava or feeling mind: Bhava is a deep yogic concept that extends to all of life as the feeling state of being sometimes translated as mood that forms the inner soil from which all yoga experience arises. Bhava is a whole body experience that athletes, artists, gardeners : anyone who is bringing the power of inner unification with the state they are experiencing into action. Technique without bhava is like food without taste : it is the inner state that brings transformation and satisfaction to the flow of yoga.
Evolution: Through vinyasa, peak asanas are cultivated as pathways of evolution on all levels. Classes are sequenced around the function and energy of the asana in a way that allows every student to find their developmental and emotional current that is appropriate for them that day in relation to the flow of the life. There is no hierarchy between child's pose and scorpion, reclining meditation and seated meditation.
Integration: Through multi-dimensional sequencing, the mandala (wholeness) of the body, is cultivated through an integration of intelligently sequenced asanas where all of the major groups of asanas - standing poses, arm balances, twists, back-bends, hip openers, forwards bends and inversions - and all the major structures of the body are chosen for their relationship to a peak asana, the state of transformation (rasa) or particular exploration, and then integrated through a system of sequencing, and always through the sutra of the breath consciousness. Chanting, visualization, chakras, marmas, and pranayama are also often integrated within asana.
Energetic Alignment: is an experiential approach to conscious inner and outer alignment that invites you to discover the natural relationships, actions and energetic flow from within your body. This approach involves accessing alignment during the flow of practice through a three-part vinyasa method that brings awareness to key actions, the movements of prana, the union of opposites, and lines of energy as it relates to the awakening the inherent function and benefit of a pose. The emphasis in on the unbroken stream of internal meditation and alignment within the flow.
Collective Flow: Our orientation to a daily group vinyasa flow is not so much a class or workshop as a collective journey along the river of prana that flows within us and all around us. When I go to the boundary waters in northern Minnesota, I love to canoe in the pristine lakes and watch the locals float by in their canoes, each person in sync with their own breath-energy, with each other, and most importantly the currents of the lakes that ultimately lead out into the open wilderness.
Common Elements of a Blessed Yoga Class:
Chanting and Music
We always begin with universal and natural chanting of 'Om' with movement that is related to the intention of the class. Yogic chants and mantras are also integrated for experienced practitioners during the flow of the class. Music as a universal tool for cultivating the flow is invoked, creating the experience of vinyasa as a dance of breath and rhythm.
Yoga and aromatherapy are holistic and ancient practices, both offering physical, mental and spiritual benefits for the practitioner. The use of aromatherapy blends while practicing yoga can enhance the practitioner's experience and benefits from both therapeutic areas. Not only are the senses enthralled by the beautiful aromas during your practice, but the focus and effects of your practice are intensified by the use of carefully chosen essential oil blends. The practitioner can use specially chosen aromatherapy blends to enhance a particular aspects of their practice, whether it's physical, spiritual or mental. Anointing – essential oils are used in applications of massage to enhance body stretching and recovery or worn as a scent to support visualization, meditation and focus.
We offer dozens of movement meditations rooted within kriya (rhythmic movement for an energetic effect). The moving meditation introduces the direction of the class through invoking movement patterns within asanas and specific energy awakenings that initiate the state of flow.
Namaskaras: Sun Salutation Variation
We explore over 25 namaskars or : salutations as the consummate vinyasas with their own complete energy and effect. The state of namaskar is to bow, to realize the essence whether it is the energy of the sun as in sun salutations (surya namaskar) or the moon as in moon salutations (chandra namaskar). From a base of 5 classical namaskars, Ashley offers 20 different namaskars that she has developed over the past seven years of practicing. Once beginners have integrated the basics, students have experienced the wonderful effect of the opening of new pathways within their being.
In the main body of the class, multi-dimensional sequencing is offered to integrate standing poses, arm balances, back bends, forward bends, twists, and hip openers in an effective, creative, dynamic method based upon vinyasa krama (stages of evolution), pratikriyasana (counterpose), fluid body cultivation, kosha and chakra models of integrating the body. The effect: whole being vitality cultivated with creativity and exploration that never habituates or dulls living the power of yoga.
Savasana is the great return to home base, the source within yourself. Within a Blessed Yoga Savasana, you can expect to be treated to gentle massage and aromatherapy treatments as well as sound healing via mantra. It sometimes includes a yoga nidra based visualization for deep relaxation and healing. The class will end with Pranayama and guided meditation.
Mudra Meditation and Pranayama
Mudra meditation is offered as a way to enter into the natural, inherent state of meditation and to cultivate bhavanas (healing states of consciousness) that are related to the focus of the class. Pranayama is cultivated throughout the class as the continuous flow of the breath and specifically at the end of class to balance and pranify the whole being.
Embrace the light and allow the prana to guide you.
Blessed Yoga is an energetic, creative, full-spectrum approach to embodying the flow of yoga cultivated by myself and my many teachers. Students of all levels are empowered to experience self-evolution and self-awareness through the cultivation of prana - the universal source of breath, life-energy and conscious intelligence - as the navigating source of yoga practice and vital living. Practitioners learn classical and innovative approaches to Vinyasa Yoga and the state of flow drawn from Swami Satyananda Saraswati's teachings and the Bihar School of Yoga, Tantra, Ayurveda, Yoga Therapy, Bhakti, Hatha, Integral, Kundalini, as well as Ashtanga drawn from her training at the Sri K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Institute in Mysore and my all-embracing immersion into my own practice and yoga studies since 2005.
Our intentions make yoga more than just physical exercise. We practice yoga to remember, reveal, and delight in the divine oneness that is the source and substance of our embodied experience. Yoga continually deepens our understanding of our truest nature, leading us to the source of divine longing in our hearts and unleashing it as creative self-expression. We embrace all that is life-affirming, and celebrate the gift of this life by living it with passion, clarity and joy.
When we practice with awareness and refinement, our poses become a powerful technology for healing and transformation. We gain a greater sense of vitality and, personal efficacy, and we cultivate more freedom in the body, expansion of the heart, and clarity of mind. We use intelligent alignment to increase our physical and spiritual potential in each pose. When our bodies are optimally aligned, the action is strong and balanced, and the attitude is pure and powerful, then our transformation is swift and potent.
Powerful yoga is practiced from inside out. It is a heart-filled expression that is as much personal as it is shared. As we uplift ourselves through this practice, our vitality, beauty, and radiance uplifts others around us. This expansion of our heart pulses through the interwoven fabric of our community, and we begin to create the world we wish to live in. We celebrate and encourage the greatness of everyone we practice with and cultivate an inclusive and accepting community of the heart.
Love is the essence of our life. I have written this blog with love, and I offer it to you, dear reader, with the hope that the suggestions offered here will become a vital part of your self-healing and continued well-being. ~ Ashley