Guest Teacher Post: Ashley Marks RYT-200

March’s Guest Teacher Post is from the first person I ever taught a posture!

Check out what Ashley has to say below!

If you want to learn more about her you can follow her on the links below:

Instagram: @ashley.marks.yoga

The Ways Yoga has Changed my Life

By Ashley Marks

When I was first asked to do this blog I thought to myself, how can I express the ways in which Yoga has changed me as a person. Then I thought that maybe the best way to tell you is to just give you my story.

I have suffered my whole life with anxiety and bouts of depression. These issues are ones that many people deal with today. It’s so common, that I would say its an epidemic. One thing that I feel is important to remember is that you are not alone and there are many ways to overcome these struggles. While I was on a journey to find out how to live more vibrantly, I discovered that Yoga was the answer for me!

The first time I gave yoga a try was in high school. I suppose I was trying to self-teach myself and I wondered what all the ‘hype’ was about. I bought a mat and I would just sit on it. After doing that a few times, I gave it up.

I came back to Yoga in my early twenties when I was starting to realize that I had been suffering with serious depression. I literally went home and laying in bed and did nothing, felt nothing…until one day I decided that I needed to get moving! I needed something that would help me both physically and mentally…

So I bought a DVD and gave Yoga another try. I just couldn’t get into it.

Then, a couple years later I bought a different DVD. This time I bought a Jillian Michaels Yoga DVD. And guys, it worked. I was hooked. I did Yoga everyday. Jillian Michaels was my gateway to living yoga. Some people may argue that its more like a yoga fusion class but her words of encouragement along with her tough love attitude gave me the push I needed in the right direction!

I made some other changes at the same time. I saw a therapist and I was taking medications. But what happened next was amazing!

I started trying other Yoga DVD’s, such as Shiva Rea’s. I started reading different Yoga texts and researching, and began creating a practice of my own. Before I knew it I was actually going out and taking classes at studios!

I felt that it helped me so much that I went off my medications, and to this day the only thing that I medicate on is more yoga! It made that much a difference in my life. While that may not be the answer for everyone, it did work for me.

These are some of the tools I use that I learned from living my yoga life:
*Stay Present- When you forget the past and the bad parts of your life while not worrying about the unknown future, you can fully engage your senses in what is happening in the now. It works both on and off the mat.

*Let Go-Give up those things that no longer serve you, the incidents that made you unhappy, the times you felt yourself clenching. If you are doing an asana and you are clenching too tightly, find softness in the posture. Let go.

*Live truthfully- We are so quick to judge ourselves and others. We tell ourselves false stories. Put those stories to rest. Do your best to live honestly. Swami Kripalu once said, “My beloved child, break your heart no longer. Each time you judge yourself, you break your own heart.”

*Self-Study-Take time to simply become in tune with your thoughts and emotions. Take a step back and ask yourself, why do I feel this way, what caused me to feel this way? Are you honoring the person you really are? In postures, notice where you are. Realize there are areas that we all need work on but when we do our best, that that is absolutely enough. You are enough.

*Contentment- Be happy with where you are, with what you have. We are all on our own journey. some paths are longer than others, but that never means that one path is more worthwhile than the other.

*Breathe- Always remember to come back to the breath. In moments of stress and chaos, the breath brings balance and release. This, also, is important to remember both on and off the mat.

Yoga is a path that I intend on staying with for the rest of my life. It saved me from the very dark place that I was in…I still struggle with these from time to time but they are made all the more easy because of my consistent practice. And every time I feel myself overcoming these obstacles I feel even stronger.

Thank you for reading my story. I hope that Yoga can enrich your lives as much as it has truly enriched mine.

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