Ashley From the Heart
I was just sitting here in the yoga studio, reflecting, cleaning up a bit, mopping the floors and creating a new chalkboard sign to place outside.
Out of nowhere this overwhelming feeling came over me, with tears filling my eyes, of how full my heart is because of where I am today… so here is a little bit about me and how I became part of the Shoals Yoga family.
It was a time in my life I felt empowered, felt the feeling of really living and for the first time allowed myself to follow my dreams because of the desires that had cultivated in my heart at some point in my existence. I was in the flow and, it felt right and right on time. I hope you enjoy. I trust you are inspired.
If you have been in my classes lately you will know I have been bringing the classes to end with positive affirmations about yourselves as you rest in savasana (corpse pose) in final relaxation. I say them out loud and you mentally repeat phrases such as, “I am strong.” “I am brave.” “I am confident.” “I am completely provided for.” “My heart is full of gratitude for myself and for others.” “I am happy.” “I am worthy.” “I am loved.” “I expect good things to happen to me.”
Why do I incorporate this? It’s simple… you begin changing your thoughts about yourself (whether you believe it or not at first) and you start receiving different outcomes. You will gradually learn to believe one cell at a time. You become aware of the changes you would like to make in your body, mind, and emotions. You begin experiencing the changes you have wanted to see in your life.
You begin breaking patterns that your body and mind have held onto for years, for your lifetime. You start becoming who you really are by shedding the layers of emotional, mental, physical and spiritual baggage that you have diligently carried the weight of because it (in an ironic way) has made you feel safe, secure or maybe needed. You begin loving yourself.
Research has stated that 65% of our self talk is negative. This state affects our immune system, performance and overall wellbeing. It’s a shame because we fail to see that we are such beautiful souls, no matter our size, our age, our height, our jobs, our social status, the cars we drive, what family we have come from or our income … WE ARE BEAUTIFUL! Why am I so passionate about this? It’s simple… It transformed my life!
This time a little over 2 years ago, I literally just flew home from Seattle, Washington. Not just Seattle, but let me backtrack… I was on a 3-month adventure. Backpacking through India for 9 weeks, flew home for 3 days and headed out for 2 ½ weeks to the Northwest of the US—Boise, Portland and Seattle. How was I able to take a 3-month sabbatical?
I had been working in a corporate position for a worldwide company for the previous 4 ½ years as a product manager. Financially I was blessed and provided for, but mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually… I was drained. My heart was drained… and after 1 year of planning my leap, I decided it was time. It was time to take chances, time to explore, time to start living. When I was reflecting on the big picture, this life here on earth seemed so short, so why not enjoy this creation that was given to us to it’s fullest? The question came to… "What is your fullest expression of life?" Now that is something to sit with…
I realize that not everyone is in a position to quit a job, pick up and leave for 3 months, but everyone is in a position to start living life to its fullest. Maybe it’s one thing a day that you do that feeds your soul. Anything!
Maybe reading a book, sitting a little longer to drink your tea or coffee on a crisp morning.
Maybe it’s going for a hike or learning to mediate.
Maybe it’s learning that new skill you have been putting off for years.
Maybe it is reaching that goal that you have told yourself you can’t reach because it’s too hard or you are not good enough.
Maybe it is simply looking in the mirror and saying, “I honor my body. I love myself. I am grateful.”
For me… I needed to travel and I needed to do something with my life that reached people on a deeper level. I wanted to do something that I enjoyed! Traveling has always been a desire of mine. I remember very clearly as an 8 year old little girl when my dad would take me out on the road with him when he was playing in Marie Osmond’s band.
But the feelings I felt when I had to come home will always stick with me. I had a hard time adjusting back to my 8 year old life and longed to be out on the road with him again. I knew then I had the desire to travel. I have visited most states in the US. It was in 2001 when I took my first trip out of the country with my best friend that my life would forever be changed. This is where the “travel bug” bit… !
I have seen and experienced things I would never thought I could even imagine. Going to India, this was the fear I needed to face—the fear of not believing in myself. Initially the plan was to go for 3 weeks to celebrate a friend’s wedding in Delhi and Guwahati, then return back to work. The 3 weeks turned into 5, and then into 9! I knew that I wanted to make changes in my career and I found this to be the opportunity that drew the line in the sand. If not, I feel like I would still be sitting behind my desk anxiously contemplating of how I wanted my life to look different for another year or 2 or 3.
At this turning point in my life, I felt I owed myself and everyone else a solid plan as to what I was going to do with my life from there on out. I felt I needed to have it all mapped out because who quits their job with no plan? Certainly not me, ha! So my plan sounded great! I am certainly not doing the plan I came up with—there was a better plan in store for me. I am quite certain I talked my plan over 401 times to the people closest to me. Enough was enough … I gathered the courage and made the decision. It was time to TRUST.
Being where I am today, I look back and think, it is so easy, just make the change! But being in that moment, it was one of the toughest, scariest decisions I have ever made. And when I say I found answers laying on my mat in yoga, I literally mean, I found answers laying on my mat in yoga. I found that place of stillness within where I could hear everything clearly. Where I could quiet my mind, my body, my soul so I could finally listen to the answers to the questions I had been torturing myself with for years.
I connected with my inner self. The place of solid foundation, inner wisdom, knowledge, safety and comfort. I started to believe in myself and I was ready to face my fears!
Facing my fears has led me to Shoals Yoga to help you dip your toe or take a full splash into knowing your true inner self, connecting yourself with Creation. I spent 1 month in an intense yoga program in the Catskills mountains of NY. I camped out for an entire month which was an adventure all in itself! The program was life changing.
Here I am 2 years later, and life keeps happening 😉 I have continued my travels, spending over 3 months in South East Asia (Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia) and Mexico… learning, growing, molding…
Is it always rainbows and butterflies? We have all been walking this Earth long enough to know that is not the case. The choice comes when we decide "how" we are going to show up each day. How we preceive what is really happening… I am choosing to trust the process of following the path--following the heart. Who knows where it will lead me or you next… but that is what excites me the most… to trust the Plan. To not know exactly what is around the corner. Being open, being vulnerable… not an easy place to be. But, I feel it brings a deeper experience of life. Look into each others eyes, say a proper goodbye, and good morning… be where you are, and be there fully!
Thank you all for accepting me, trusting me and supporting me. We are all constantly working on ourselves to be a better version of who we are, uprooting and digging our roots a little deeper each day… being and becoming.
So when people ask “Is yoga just stretching?”… I say, “Yes...” with a snicker… For some it may be stretching, for some it is the mental release … either way … We are opening, we are changing. You gotta root to rise up and stay strong!