Yoga Stars Interview With: Ali Washington

 

YOGA STARS is part of a feature campaign hosted by Vibrant Yogini where an experienced yoga teacher or enthusiast was interviewed about their beautiful journey learning yoga, as well as their newfound views as a yoga practitioner.

It was created to try and remove the gap between confident and expert yogi’s, and those who have just started to practice yoga or who are curious to learn more about it.

The truth is, and especially as an experienced yoga teacher myself, we never want you to feel intimidated or discouraged to start learning yoga.

Therefore, it is important to remember that each and every yoga teacher started fresh from the beginning as a newbie once upon a time.

So take a read of the interviews to learn how they share experience as a teacher and enthusiast! The main aim of this campaign is to motivate you to continue your journey no matter where you are on it.

Designed to inspire your yoga practice and encourage you to follow your dreams.

Leading our fourth Yoga Stars weekly feature today is the wonderful Ali Washington! Check out her beautiful and inspiring instagram feed: @ali_perceptiontrainers

“Ali Washington is a Registered Nutritional Councillor, Yoga Instructor, Trained Life Coach and published author. Her single greatest commitment in this life, is to be a space holder for everyone who crosses her path to become the highest version of themselves that they wish to become.”

Yoga Star: Ali Washington

Where are you currently based?

Bali.

Where are you originally from?

Canada.

When did you start practicing yoga and why?

I started my practice at the ripe old age of 14, during the summer between grade 8 and grade 9.

The ”why’s” around beginning my practice are slightly fuzzy.

What I mean by this, is that I had a superficial reason: I was a dancer and wanted to maintain my flexibility and strength over the summer months, and I was really into being active at the time.

But I think the real true reason I went, was because I genuinely really wanted to go. I loved being in the studio! There was something about the practice that felt like home to me.

I got myself an unlimited ‘Summer Sizzler’ pass, as they referred to it, giving me unlimited access to classes for the whole three months of summer, and I am sure I ended up paying around 2-3 dollars per class. I went so often.

I would wake up early in the mornings, walk to the studio, do my practice, walk back stopping at the health food store on the way and be ready for a healthy lunch before most of my friends had gotten out of bed.

I was a very strange 14 year old to put it bluntly!

After that summer I focused less on yoga and went back to ‘regular’ life – which for me was very busy, returning to my practice the following summer.

From there, yoga was in and out of my life, until I took my teacher training in 2010 at the age of 21.

This is when yoga became the through line in my life that it is now.

What got you hooked?

I genuinely feel that l was hooked from the first moment I stepped on the mat in that little studio in Calgary.

Everything about the practice ringed of something important and special for me.

The chanting sanskrit, the focus on breathing, the slowing down, the moving, the connecting to something greater than myself, the going IN rather than looking OUT – all of it drew me in.

I felt like I was BEING the person I knew myself to truly be when I was in my yoga zone.

I started yoga at an Iyengar Yoga Studio, and truly thought at the time that that was all yoga was.

When I then took my first Vinyasa class, I was COMPLETELY confused as to why we were moving so fast, why there were so many postures, why we were linking poses – the dynamic practice really threw me for a loop!

That being said, getting into the more challenging asanas, linking movements, flowing like a dance – this hooked me just as much as the slow, methodical movements of the Iyengar practice.

Overall, it was again that feeling of being ‘home’ that got me hooked and is what has kept me ‘hooked’ since.

What is your favourite asana and why?

This is a toss up.

In the Iyengar practice, headstand is one of the key postures that is taught as being therapeutic – second only to shoulder stand.

Mastering headstand was my 14/15 year old self’s biggest desire, so in every class whenever the teacher asked for posture suggestions I always, always blurted out ‘sirsasana!!’ (I am sure they got a little weary of me after a while of that routine… 😉 )

Headstand for me has been the most consistent asana in my daily practice – I have ended every personal asana practice with a 10 minute headstand for as long as I can remember having a personal practice.

So if we are talking my go-to posture for everything from fatigue to tummy troubles to needing inspiration – headstand would have to be it.

At the same time handstand has been a consistent love of mine as well.

Mastering the balance took me a solid year of daily practice, but once I got that, I have worked them into all of my daily practices as well.

Handstands feel like liberation to me – a true testament to the power of the human mind and body, and they remind me of the levity that is always available to me so long as I am willing to take the risk of losing my footing.

I am not sure I could pick a favourite between them so I am going to cheat and say both 😉

 Ali Washington Yoga Star 7

Where did you do your training/s and what courses have you completed?

I took my YTT200 in Edmonton Alberta with YogaWorks.

YogaWorks is a California based company founded by two Ashtanga practitioners who have weaved together the art and science of Iyengar yoga and Ashtanga Yoga to create an incredibly intelligent and dynamic vinyasa practice.

I loved that there was SO much attention to alignment and detail in the posture lab teachings, as well as opening up the gates for sequencing flows and knitting postures together.

I have taken several Yoga Therapy classes, studied holistic nutrition (and have my diploma), life coaching, reiki and have done several meditation workshops as well.

How has yoga impacted your life?

How hasn’t it?

I think that would be a shorter answer.

I am not sure there is a single area of my life that yoga has not informed or influenced – from the way that I eat, the way that I speak to myself and others, the way I move, the way I breathe, the way I am conscious of my life and my connection to all – the world and teachings of yoga could certainly be found in the roots of almost everything I am and do.

Learning the art of truly BEING with myself and with my life has been the greatest influence yoga has had on my way of life.

Which type of yoga do you teach/ specialize in?

I am not currently teaching, but my practice is a vinyasa flow style practice.

I am very mindful of my alignment but free in my expression.

I follow the basic sequencing structure taught to me by the YogaWorks method – warmup, standing postures, backbends, twists, seated postures, headstand/shoulder stand, forward fold, meditation – with lots of handstands and vinyasas thrown in for good measure.

Ali Washington Yoga Star 6

What do you enjoy about this particular style of yoga?

I love the freedom to create my own sequences, with the structure that facilitates a balanced practice overall.

I love the combination of flowing movements and held postures, the dynamic interplay of strength vs. flexibility based postures and I love the emphases on inversions.

What’s your mission as a yoga instructor?

If I had to have a mission, it would simply be to support others in the coming home to themselves.

I really do not mean this in a cliche way, but rather in a very practical sense.

I believe in showing people how to access their own inner world, their own inner self, their own inner strength and to see where they are looking outside of themselves excessively for information that can only be found from within.

This is my truest goal – to see that everyone feels more internally connected and capable.

If you could give only one piece of advice to others who are looking to start yoga what would it be?

You don’t need to be flexible, strong, look a certain way or have any physical capacities whatsoever to begin a practice.

If you can lay on the mat on the floor and take a deep breath – if you can sit in a chair and take a deep breath – you can and are practicing.

This is not about gymnastics or fancy postures – those have their place and purpose but are not the path of yoga in and of themselves.

The postures are only one of 8 limbs on the path of yoga.

Allow the postures to be what they are for you on any given day, with the expanded awareness that yoga is about connection.

It is about truth seeking. It is about taking the journey of discovering who and what you are, and who and what life is.

This happens in the internal terrain – in your inner world.

So use any of the tools and techniques that the yoga path provides that are accessible to you right now to help you tune in.

THAT is yoga.

It’s not about the asana. It’s about the awakening.

That can happen in a chair during an inhale or on a mountain in a handstand.

It is the desire to see and know that matters most, not the external expression.

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who is just starting out as a teacher what would it be?

Never, ever, ever neglect your own practice.

This is everything.

Your journey is the main journey that matters in your life.

Offer from this place, not what you think you ‘should’ offer, or what others are offering.

Take your journey, be where you are, embrace that, share that.

Commit to your path, and simply let the teaching flow from that place.

Ali Washington Yoga Star 7

What is one of your favorite mantras or affirmations that you don’t mind sharing?

The one mantra that has been the catalyst for everything amazing in my life is

‘How is this helping me/what is this trying to show me?’

The purpose of this mantra is to remind me to release resistance to whatever is occurring in my life so that I can see the wisdom and information in it – including releasing resistance to resistance itself!

This is the ultimate self love mantra.

To see the world as the self and the self as the world, and to embrace ALL of it – no matter how it may look on the surface.

I apply this to challenging relationship situations, challenging logistical things, challenging emotions and thoughts – and to all the pleasant stuff too.

Being willing to learn from everything means I am not assuming ANYTHING is wrong or bad, and this sets me up to feel loved and supported by life no matter what is occurring.

What is one of your favorite yoga quotes?

Guru Singh in a lecture once said:
“As we were chanting a mantra in sanskrit, someone came up to me and said:
‘That was beautiful, what does it mean?’ 
To which I replied:
‘It means wake the F#($ up!'”
I love this quote because it’s so real, so visceral and so getting to the point of what yoga is about. Waking up!

 

If you could have a secret power, what would in be?

I genuinely feel like I have all the powers I need 🙂

Empathy and compassion and the capacity to see where my boundaries lie in how and who I can assist are the powers I am always working to hone and develop in myself and the ones that have bore the most fruit for me in my life.

 

Connect with Ali online:

“There is no right and there is no wrong way to live, there is only what does and what does not work for YOU. Your personal journey and your individuality deserves validation, love and respect. Stepping into your highest destiny is already a part of the plan, and Ali is simply here to share in that journey with you, to provide some insights that may make the ride feel nicer, and to be the finger pointing at the moon, until you can look all on your own.” – Ali

To find out more about Ali and get access to her ’33 Day Body Balance Challenge’ visit the following website:

You can also follow her exciting stories and beautiful feed on instagram for plenty of encouraging and motivational posts;

Browse available yoga and wellness retreats around the world;

Why not spend your next vacation experiencing a yoga retreat?

There are so many to choose from!

Whether you prefer mixing it with a bit of surfing in Costa Rica, or your would like to visit the worlds heart of yoga in Rishikish, India.

Perhaps you are in need of a refreshing detox retreat, or simply a relaxing and luxurious stay in paradise which offers you spa treatments, sightseeing tours and daily yoga classes.

You are sure to find one that suits your needs perfectly!

Connect with Vibrant Yogini

Would you like to take part in the weekly Yoga Stars feature at Vibrant Yogini? Whether you are a yoga teacher or a passionate enthusiast, we would love to hear from you! Please send an email to the following address:

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Wishing you a life full of opportunities in abundance,

Namaste!

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P.S. Leave your feedback for the wonderful Ali in the comments below!

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