There are times in everyone’s life where you are absolutely shocked, floored, stop you in your tracks in awe of something. This past week was one of those moments for me. A week ago I shared a situation that I found myself in just by simply doing my “job”. I always use my yoga “job” in quotations because it doesn’t feel like work when I am on the mat (only when I am behind the screen does it resemble a job, but even then, it’s awesome). I was promoting a class that I had coming up and within the course of 12 hours I found myself wondering what I was doing with yoga, doubting myself, scoffing at some women who I never met and was just downright pissed. I wrote about it as I was always told that often times when you don’t have a way to share your thoughts to the person to just write it down and let the feelings work themselves out that way. I read it over and over again along with the conversation that led me to these feelings in the first place and then a day later, I ended up sharing the blog post with each of you here. Now, here we are 7 days later and DAMN. I’m shocked, floored and have stopped in my tracks in awe of the connection I have had to a lot of you over the last week.
I wanted to write this follow up post because I think some voices need to be heard. Voices that I found to be much louder, more profound and the most genuine that I’ve witnessed in a long time. Way louder than the 3 women who decided to jump on a bandwagon against all things YogaZo. A lot of you have asked me their names, what studios they teach at, where they practice at etc. and I still have not made mention of their names or locations and have since deleted the conversation (admit it, you looked or at least thought about it. I would). While I appreciate the sincere loyalty behind that, I will not let those names slip my mouth. I will however, let them know that my practice, teachings and our community will very much be louder than their rude words, judgement and overall disapproval of what we are doing in ABQ and beyond. In an effort to be completely transparent to them, I plan to share with them these blog posts to let them know another point of view that they chose not to see. Likely they won’t see things very differently, but I know it’s something that I need to do. I hope that by reading what our yoga practice is all about, they will widen the lens on their very skewed view of what yoga is. Yoga is simply different for everyone. At the end of the day, it’s still yoga.
Now to the most important part. I received a handful of emails, texts, calls, private messages and public comments from the post and I have asked those who reached out quietly if I could share a bit of what insight they gave me to YogaZo. Luckily, they all said yes. I want to share this with each of you for a few reasons:
1. There is so much good in this world.
2. All of us are working through such huge things in each of our lives that yoga is able to reach no matter where you come from.
3. Each and every one of you who reached out simply touched my heart in ways I will never be able to explain accurately.
4. Those women could not be farther off about the Yoga practice that we provide.
Enjoy my friends.
"Now I know that I have told you on more than one occasion what you and YogaZo have done to inspire me in my own yoga practice. But I had a few things run through my head while reading your blog. I think my biggest pet peeve is people who judge others. In my opinion there is not one person who is even remotely in a position to judge another person. You may not agree with someone’s choice but it’s not your life. This world needs more people who have patience and understanding that most of us are doing the best we can."
"I wanted to tell you why I’ve never really done yoga before now. I’ve taken a few classes here and there but never found an instructor or class I vibed with. One of the biggest things that held me back was my fear that I wasn’t good enough to even try. I feel like I had an image in my head of what and who I had to be to even try yoga. And I have a hard time even explaining what that image is. I was afraid because I didn’t know the poses and was not very flexible so, some poses I simply feared I couldn’t do and, seriously, what yogi can’t do all the poses. I felt I wasn’t “spiritual” enough to be a yogi. I don’t generally mediate or always enjoy “traditional” yoga music. I was turned off by the “stiffness” I felt in the few classes I did take. And a large curvy woman like me would never be accepted as a serious yogi. All of these were thoughts and conversations I would have in my head. And enter YogaZo and specifically Silent Disco Yoga, which was the first class I ever took from you. You got us into our first downdog and told us to dance it out and I was ecstatic. It was music I loved to listen to and you encouraged a level of fun and lighthearted-ness that I never knew yoga could be. And between the retreat, your classes, and Charlotte and Kara and all the great people I’ve met, I found my passion for yoga. I learned that it’s MY practice and it is what I make it. It’s my poses, my goals, my music, my spirituality. And there is nothing more empowering than that thought to me. It tears me up to think about it. YogaZo and everyone associated with it has this incredible amount of love and encouragement for every life they touch and it’s infectious."
"I for one am so blessed by how accessible you make yoga. I love the practice and with my work schedule can not always make it; but when I do I never leave feeling anything less than blessed. Thank you for vision and willingness to meet us on the mat, where and when we can!"
"I love how you lead your classes. I love telling people how you lead your classes! Since doing classes with you I feel ruined- like I can’t get the same fulfillment from a “regular“ yoga class!"
"Reminds me of a saying that a few of my friends commonly use and one has tattooed on her forearm: smile on your brother. "
"I am writing for myself, and for the eclectic, broken crew who attend YogaZo with me. We are the LESS THAN 1% who serve this nation. We are Battle fatigued. We are compassion fatigued. We are physically and emotionally impaired. We have trouble leaving the house when we are not mandated to do so. We are struggling to heal physically and emotionally. Yet we have been able to commit to meeting each other, and you, outside of the uniform and our daily trials, on the mat. We “Lion Roar” the loudest. We yell out “Hooah!” when you challenge us. And sometimes we cry silently when you turn the focus back internally and tell us to “Breathe in the good shit & breathe out the bullshit”. We are human. Yeah, we tell ourselves that we earn that drink after the class (that frankly we would probably have anyway). Sometimes we’re weak and it takes that drink to get us out of the house. Sometimes we’re strong and we just go for the bad ass work out and each other. But you give us the opportunity to choose a healthier (mind, body & spirit) option. We have been coming for almost a year, and every one of us have seen improvements. "
"I come from a very legalistic Baptist background, and there is this mentality that if you don’t look like them, act like them, teach and preach like them then you aren’t really a Christian. They belittle you and criticize the way you live, the way you teach, the way you LOVE. And is it there place? Of course not. I get a lot of shade because I teach Holy Yoga, some will say that christian yoga is an oxymoron. But really truly what is yoga? It doesn’t matter what type of yoga you are practicing, or where your practicing it at, the true depth of yoga is what is in your heart has your breathe and move. Yoga is about letting go, overcoming and conquering the things that hold you back from within. The heart, the intention is everything, and you my friend have that down pat." "Not everyone prays the same way. Not everyone heals the same way or worships the same way…. you are helping those that need to be helped and only you can guide them. So keep loving and keep giving."
"You have created a space where I can share my love of yoga with friends who aren't quiet enthused with going to a normal studio. I truly feel the amazing yogi community every time I step foot in one of your classes. You also know how to challenge me in every class. You have made the joy of yoga more widespread. Thank you for sharing your joy, light, and bliss. Please keep doing what your doing and never change. No words can describe how much I love your classes. And they are not true yogis if they chose to attack you and judge you. One of the first lessons we learn in yoga is to resonate loving kindness and expand past judgments of others and they certainly went against the yogi philosophy by attacking you. "
"My heart went out to you when I saw you felt discouraged and questioned what you were doing. Let that Ignite your soul. Keep doing what your doing. You have no idea the impact you are making on the world, those that go to your class and those who follow you on social media. You are single handedly healing the world by opening your doors to help people heal themselves through practice. I found yoga in March when my world literally fell apart. I am so insanely grateful for the studios I've been to and to the teachers that dedicate their time."
"First, don’t be discouraged by the opinions of 3 people who think they are better than every one else. You are sharing your passion and something that should be shared with everyone! It doesn’t matter whether you’re teaching in a bar, a yoga studio or a homeless shelter. You are sharing something that is way bigger than those 3 people.
Second, I’m also an instructor, and I’ve been told I can’t be a yogi because of the Jeep or truck I drive, that The Eagles and AC/DC comes on in my classes, as well as the fact I can’t do every pose to the fullest extent or I’m a little heavier. I’m still in beginners modifications in some poses and I’m completely proud of it. The fact is, I’ve gone through the training. I actually understand the teachings and the beliefs of what yoga is truly about. It’s about the mental and physical benefits that come with connecting and controlling your breath. It’s about the physical healing that comes from breathwork and just getting your body moving and stretching. You can do these things at any location at any time, bar studio or home. So please don’t let some snotty bratts who think they hung the moon get you down.
Third and lastly, I personally have some friends that were encouraged to go to training because of what you offer. A studio wasn’t their thing, and that is perfectly fine! But you touched their lives in a deeper way. A studio practice is not what everyone needs. As long as they’re finding the love of their practice somewhere, I don’t care where it is!"
"Your classes are so much more than yoga: as a full time working mother to find friends and moments of freedom are priceless. Yoga is a place inside yourself no building really matters. ALSO it is much harder to crush poses with an IPA."
"I had never tried yoga before and you all welcomed me and made me feel at ease as I was stepping away outside of my comfort zone. It’s one of the things I look forward to every week. Thank you for the community you’re creating and the people you’re bringing together."
"I am thankful for Yogazo and your vision of creating an environment for people such as myself who are not the skinniest, most flexible or Zen people on this earth. I love the structure, the flow and the atmosphere of each class and the uniqueness of each instructor....and I love beer."
"Your classes bring me joy, peace and confidence. They make me incredibly vulnerable — physically, emotionally and spiritually. They make me laugh and cry (especially during the hips openers). They reenergize me and are helping me grow into the person I want to be. The music, the locations, and the people who show up create an intense positive vibe, and it’s something I’ve never experienced at any other yoga studio or class in the last ten years of my practice. YogaZo is so much more than just yoga."
"Ashley you have built a beautiful community of yoga practitioners and held space for them to practice, breathe, share, and grow. I love how kindness, compassion, and community are always the essence of all you do. Breathe in the love and slowly exhale others opinions. When you move from love and work from the heart, joy always follows."
Thank you to all of you.