Alex has been a long time student at the shala, one of my first in fact (!!) and her presence was certainly missed during the year she wasn’t able to attend after her move. Since the mid fall she’s been back in full and seeing her here once more lifts my heart and makes me smile ear to ear. She has the most cheerful and kind demeanor and watching her walk into the shala with that much joy every time is downright blissful!
As an equestrian she is hard on her body and originally came to the shala needing a little love for those poor tight hamstrings of hers. Hearing about her adventures with her beloved horses I am always whisked away to growing up with my friend Ashley who is now an equine veterinarian. Her love and dedication for her animals is awe-inspiring. As Alex is so intense in her riding, it’s nice to see her relaxed and able to let go into the practice of yoga. I am certainly blessed she chose the shala to practice that one fateful day and am honored to lead her on the mat. She is truly an incredible student and I cannot wait to learn more about her in this ambassador interview!!
How long have you been practicing yoga?
I have practiced on and off since I was in middle school, but only started really getting into my practice since finding Barefoot! In middle school I took a fitness class, and one day we watched (and were supposed to practice along with) a yoga video – the woman talked about Ujjayi breathing – we called it oojey woojey breathing and thought it was hilarious.
As a equestrian, how has yoga helped you?
I have been riding for almost 20 years. Riding for me is very much ‘meditation in movement’ just as yoga can be. (That is, when things are going right, and the horses don’t think the boogy man is lurking around every corner!) I think both of my practices work together; both require strength, calm, and focus. Both bring me a ton of joy. Yoga has made me more flexible and helps me cross train for riding. It also is something fun and challenging for me to do that isn’t riding – when your hobby/love/sport is your job, you need another space for yourself!
What’s your favorite part of yoga?
I think its the couple of minutes before class starts when I am settling into my space. I know that it means that I have carved out this time in my day to devote to myself, and whether I am feeling super awesome or I spend half the time in Child’s Pose, it is something I am doing for me and that brings me a lot of joy.
What’s your favorite pose?
I love hip openers like Frog and Lizard because they feel really good for my body. I also really like when there is a core/shoulder opening sequence of poses because I know that they are leading up to trying a handstand, and I am determined to do one!!
What is your favorite quote?
“The greats weren’t great/ because at birth they could paint/The greats were great/ because they paint a lot.” It’s a lyric from Macklemore’s song “10,000 hours” … I just love it because it reminds me that you have to work at whatever it is that you want to be good at. It also reminds me not to compare myself to others, because they may have been working harder or longer at the same thing. I’m a major art buff/nerd, and I love that a rapper is talking about painters.
How have you taken your yoga off the mat and into the world?
I think the physical aspect of yoga has brought balance to my life – riding horses so much requires a lot of strength, and I end up rather inflexible. But I think the mental aspect of yoga has been more important; through yoga have I have found a way to calm and focus my mind. I certainly feel more balanced and mentally sharp when I am actively practicing.
Tell us a little bit about your horse life.
I have been riding for most of my life, so horses ARE my life!! I teach riding lessons for my job, and I have two amazing horses. I’ve had my gelding for 11 years, and my mare for 2. I started out riding at a summer camp as a kid, and then it quickly progressed from there. I competed in 3 day eventing in high school, and then bought my gelding as a 3 year old, off the track racehorse. I stopped competing to train him, and then he and I went to college where we rode on my college team. Now I foxhunt with Myopia in Hamilton, and it is so much fun! I spend my days out in the sunshine, riding horses and teaching kids.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
I am really into knitting! I just love making things like socks or hats or a sweater out of yarn – its magical to think that all those little loops turn into something useful. I was also an Art History and Philosophy major in college – I’m either really fun or really annoying to take to a museum, depending on how you view it.
Why did you join Barefoot?
I honestly think I just found Barefoot online, coincidentally the first month that Jenny opened. Because of my crazy work schedule, I could only come to the late night classes that she was offering at the time, and sometimes it was just the two of us. I had always wanted to start practicing yoga regularly, and I loved Jenny’s energy – it is infectious!! It was so cool to be able to start exploring my yoga practice with her. I moved away for a year, and the first thing I did when I moved back was to get a class card.
If you could tell your pre-yoga self anything, what would it be?
Get your booty to a yoga class! I have a “monkey mind” – my brain likes to run and run and run, and yoga helps me settle it down. Also, to stop laughing at the oojey woojey breathing, because one day you will be doing that and loving it.
Oh Alex, I love the oojey woojey breath story!! So cute and such a silly but wonderful reminder. The breath may feel strange at first, but it is the guiding light in our practice. Thank you so much for being here with us at the shala and coming into your practice and Ujjay breathing with the same love and adoration you have for your horses. Love you lots!
Get out there, do yoga & make life sparkle!!