get to know - Ashley

Okay, so it’s a little comical to me that I was asked to write a testimonial about my I AM YOGA experience. History has shown that I am the friend known for being the queen of bad decisions. My friends are usually asking me to keep my experiences to myself. For most of my tween and young adult life, I have been that party girl. You know, the one who seems fearless, reckless at times, and willing to try anything.

The truth is, I was full of fear, and was willing to try anything as long as the outcome allowed me to escape reality and the confines of my own skin. When I’m not chasing that external “thing” that will click my internal chaos into place for a fleeting moment, my natural state is restless, irritable, and discontent. You know that Anna Nalick song, Breathe, when it goes “and I feel like I’m naked in front of a crowd” yeah, story of my Life.

Even such a simple task as going to the mall, I’d have to have a few glasses of wine just to calm the inner turmoil and get that liquid courage to be a human among other humans. So you can imagine my first reaction when a friend introduced me to the idea of hot yoga. Not only would I be stuck in a quiet room with MYSELF, it would be over a hundred degrees and I would be forced to look internally for the breath and strength to make it through the class. No thank you. A few years and painful life decisions later brought me to the realization that any sort of lasting contentment can not come externally and has to however, come from within.

I decided to start with giving my friend’s suggestion of hot yoga a try, quietly having observed the changes and contentment seen in him over the past year (it also didn’t hurt that outside is a winter disaster and inside would feel tropical). My first class was a Forrest class, led by Madeline, one of the most genuine and all around beautiful people you could know. The experience felt so personal, and the room was filled with the most welcoming, non-judgmental energy one could only hope for when first trying this class.

All of the instructors bring this same energy into each of their classes, and the way they teach them is like poetry. I’ve only been doing this for a short time, but you can imagine how much peace that first class has given me, because I have gone almost every day since. It has become such a vital part of my routine and has overflowed into other areas of my life where I am more mindful, and do things with love. For the first time in a very long time my racing mind has slowed down ever so slightly, and I am not only feeling comfortable in my own skin, but learning to enjoy it.

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Stacey Bank