Thriving Beyond the Yoga Mat, by Anne Lowell

"I think we all have this part of us that wants to evolve and figure out how we can enjoy life with purpose. I call this part the “Soul Self”. There is a challenge however. Each of us has another part that wants the exact opposite for us: it desires safety and comfort even at the expense of happiness."

 Anne Lowell, February 2018

Anne Lowell, visiting yoga teacher and instructor for the upcoming 3-hour workshop, Yoga Beyond the Mat scheduled at Breathe Yoga & Wellness on Saturday, April 28, 2018, shares her beautiful yoga story in this article. Meet and practice with her in April by following our Events listings and registering to reserve a spot for your mat and for your heart in this long-awaited class.

Enjoy this 15 minute meditation led by Anne.

"My journey with yoga began with the physical, like it does for so many other people. When I started yoga in high school as a former gymnast and aspiring personal trainer, I viewed it as a practice whose sole purpose was to supplement my exercise regime*, and supposedly the breathing practices and meditation was good for my mind and spirit or something. Once I rolled up my mat, my yoga was done for the day.

Some people stay here for months, years, decades, or for their entire lives, and there is nothing wrong with that. There is beauty in everyone’s path. But if you’re reading this, you’re likely a different kind of yogi. You’re the kind of person who sees that there is more to life than what you may be living. You want to have access to your full potential, and you have an inkling that somehow, your yoga practice may be able to help you with that. You’ve got an itch to grow in ways previously unimaginable, and once that itch starts, you can’t scratch your way out of it.

I think we all have this part of us that wants to evolve and figure out how we can enjoy life with purpose. I call this part the “Soul Self”. There is a challenge however. Each of us has another part that wants the exact opposite for us: it desires safety and comfort even at the expense of happiness. This “Stay Safe Self” has been strongly encouraged throughout human evolution because it’s needed for survival of the species (no time to think about your value system when there’s a tiger stalking you). And because it is such a firmly ingrained (and more necessary) part of our human experience, it is competitive and sneaky; it can blind us so that we may not even be aware that it is taking charge and leading our entire lives!

The path of Yoga is one of many that can be undertaken to facilitate and encourage our shift into living a life with the Soul Self in charge. When we anchor ourselves in the body or breath in meditation and yoga asana, we are quiet enough to hear what our Stay Safe Self says. The path of Yoga encourages self-study (svadyaya) and strengthening our capacity to stick with the discomfort of our findings so we can live fearlessly. A life with the Soul Self in charge is not void of pain, but it is filled with more excitement, curiosity, resilience, and achievement. It is not about survival, it is about thrivival**. It is a way of living in which we learn from every situation, crappy or otherwise. It is a way of living in which we don’t wait to do what we feel called toward, we do it even though it gives us the heebie jeebies; it would feel inauthentic not to do so. And it is a way of living in which we stop listening to our limiting beliefs and habits and start listening to our deepest values.

Now, my yoga practice is not confined to my mat. I aim to practice yoga all the time: when I visit family, when I make decisions, and when I screw up. I am passionate about helping others make this shift as well, and I love teaching physically challenging yet deeply restful classes that bring students closer to their intention for practicing.

Join me for my workshop “Yoga Beyond the Mat” on April 28th to explore your values and what living yoga off the mat means to you. You’ll definitely get into your body as I guide you through an inspiring ‘flow and yin’ style asana practice. And, we’ll do reflective and fun (well, I think they’re fun) activities centered on Yoga as a catalyst for positive growth and a means to promote discovering and living your truth. Don’t forget your journal!

*I may not practice yoga just for the physical benefits anymore, but I have to say, there’s no other feeling quite like the bliss of a forward fold after a great workout.

**Thrivival is not technically a word, but I really think it should be."

More about Anne:

Anne is a yoga teacher and exercise physiologist based out of Asheville, NC. She is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan where she studied Kinesiology (the study of the human body and movement), and will complete her 500 hour yoga teacher training at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in June 2018. Anne finds true joy in helping others feel good, whether that be through movement, one-on-one coaching, or educating students on self-care practices.

Her favorite part about her work (besides getting to wear yoga pants to work and nerd-out about anatomy) is connecting with her students and planning thoughtful programs that inspire physical, emotional, and spiritual growth.

Anne’s classes, workshops, and trainings are informed by her background in kinesiology and massage therapy, her life experiences, and her daily yoga and meditation practice. She believes that by focusing on aligning the body in a way that supports its structures, one can find alignment in other areas of life. Anne’s philosophy of yoga, and physical exercise in general, is that it is incredibly rewarding and life-enhancing when approached in a balanced way. Thus, in a session with Anne, you can expect to experience both challenge AND ease, strength AND relaxation, in the hopes that you can find this balance in life off of the mat as well.

In Asheville? Come to Asheville Community Yoga to take Anne’s “Slow Power Flow” class on Sunday afternoon or book a one-on-one Healing Arts session with her. You can also follow her on Instagram (@aelowell).

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