Thursday, September 6, 2012

Interviews with Ahimsa Lifers: Yoga w/ Ashley Platz (#2)

Finding balance, finding our center, feeling grounded is so essential to our overall well-being.  Obviously, when we feel out of whack, out of sorts, living too chaotically, our health suffers, as can many other areas of our lives: relationships, time management, work, etc.  

Positively Blissful.
My journey to veganism, spirituality, fitness, and overall holistic living was 100% positive to me, in every way.  However, I was missing one key connector of all of these areas - and that was through yoga.  My inconsistent yoga practice showed minor benefits, until I met Ashley Platz, of Positively Bliss Yoga.  

Here are tidbits from a testimonial I recently wrote for her gives you a prologue to our Ahimsa Life interviewee:  

"Ashley emanates center & balance, force & drive, peace & simplicity all at once...  Her great connection to people (within) and to the body (on the outside) allows her to skillfully, and with care, tune everyone into their own strengths and weaknesses... I feel stronger, more expansive, and more grounded... yoga with Ashley has become an integral part of my week, for the benefit of my well-being and my work."

Dare you to get into that pose.  Now how do you get out?
I'm so excited to introduce you to Ashley, so all of you Ahimsa Lifers can get to know her, all of you LA-based Ahimsa Lifers can take private or public yoga sessions with her, and everyone can find greater Ahimsa in yoga.  

(You can also find your balance in paradise with Ashley and Bikini Boot Camp in late December.  Read on to follow your Positive Bliss!)

Ten words that paint us a picture of who Ashley Platz is: Outgoing, Strong, Independent, Giggly, Witty, Aware, Openminded, Healthy, Loving, Smiley

When did yoga come into your life? What role does it play now?
Yoga came into my life 6 months after moving to Los Angeles in the end of 2007.  I was suffering with back pain from high school Track & Field injuries and Scoliosis I'd had since elementary school, and was googling Chiropractors when someone suggested Yoga.  After rejecting the idea - 3x - I noticed that I lived 3 blocks from City Yoga West Hollywood.  Weeks went by and I finally had the courage to take their super basics 101 course. The instructor noticed my spine right away and told me that she could "fix that with yoga."  I said, "That's impossible, the Dr. said only surgery can straighten my spine."  She smiled warmly and replied with; "Just keep coming."  That was 4 years ago and my spine is very near perfectly straight. That same Dr. now claims he "must have misdiagnosed" my Scoliosis. 

A Yogi and True Warrior, too.  Because that's Warrior 2 pose.
Yoga in my life in 2012, is a big part of everything I do. I am now a teacher, and still love to take classes. I have taught adults for 2 1/2 years and this year became Children's Yoga certified. Yoga is my go to for any physical problems I may get from running, hiking, or volleyball. It has also changed me as an actor (allowing me to be more present) and as a person (allowing me to be more still and patient).

How long have you been vegan?  What does eating plant-based and living compassionately mean to you?
I was Pescetarian since 2005, and I have been Vegan since October of 2011. Eating a plant based diet has made my life so much fuller as a healthy, compassionate, conscious human. I do not believe you can truly call yourself an animal lover just because you love your pet. I believe that to be an Animal Lover you must truly love all animals. That includes the pets you care for, other people's pets, bugs you save from your home, endangered species of all kinds, and the animals that you protect by not eating them. 

My Vegan journey began with my own health and politics. However, now that a plant based diet is also who I've become, I am so much more aware of life and my place on this planet. I can see how my compassionate lifestyle is not only saving the lives of animals, but I am saving my own life. My soul feels lighter. I now live Light. 

How do you actively tune into a client or class when teaching?
When teaching a private client or a public yoga class, it is my job to "hold the space." I set the tone and I keep the room full the positive energy. This also means receiving the energies that I am being given by the students, and sensing where they are on that specific day. 

Every BODY is different (and thank God!), so every day your body is going to respond differently to different poses. As a teacher, it is a huge part of my job to be present with you and to connect to where you are in that moment.

In what ways can yoga positively benefit one's life?

Yoga is valuable when you lose something in your toes.
Yoga can benefit you physically by making you stronger, more flexible.  It is very powerful in the healing process as far as suffering from any injuries (i.e. back pain, RLS, arthritis, migraines, digestion problems, post-surgeries recovery, pre-natal, post-natal, ADD, ADHD, Trouble Sleeping, etc.).

Mentally yoga gives you something I've never found in any other form of "exercise." I say that in quotes because to me Yoga is so much more than just asana (the physical poses). 

Yoga can give you patience, self-awareness, a strong sense of balance, relieves stress and anxiety, and  encourages self-love and therefore self-acceptance.

Tell us about Positively Bliss Yoga. 
Positively Bliss Yoga is dedicated to removing the pain and distractions for your physical and mental body to allow the YOU that we felt we were as a child - the creative, aware, healthy, attentive, blissful child - to emerge. It's about freeing yourself from the physical road blocks that we've attained through injury, and our lifestyle and discovering the bliss in an open, strong, aligned body. 

It is my personal goal to help each student feel that they not only broke a sweat and got the "work-out" they were seeking, but that a little bit of the mental weight of the world has been lifted.

I teach to share the positively blissful experience I had, with others. 

What are Ashley's Top Tips on:
Pushing yourself/limitations?
We love our comfort zone way too much. We all want change. Change in our body, our health, our finances, our lovers, our lives, but we don't want to leave the comfort zone. Whether it's about, trying a plant based diet for a month or finally getting that headstand in yoga, you have to be willing to be in the uncomfortable zone to achieve the change you want in your life. 

Just do it. Be aware that you're doing it and stay in it. Never be afraid to ask for help.

The best yoga form/practice for someone?
There are so many different disciplines of yoga and they are being tested and reinvented every year. Depending on what you want to achieve from your practice and where you are physically will determine which type of yoga is best for you.

Most people will choose a Hatha based class. Hatha being: basic hatha, vinyasa, flow, anusara, iyengar, bikram, hot yoga, power yoga, probably anything you take at a gym and many more.

Kundalini would be the other one, which works with more dynamic movement, a lot of specific breath control, meditation, and chanting. This type of yoga class is done for a specific purpose (e.g. for digestion, the heart chakra, immunity).

All are going to give you some benefit, but it is definitely case by case.

DIY Yoga?
Of course there are the DVDs and podcasts for do it yourself yoga. I think they are great!  However, I highly recommend either having private sessions or some public basics classes in front of a certified teacher before you begin an at-home routine. This way someone else has eyes on you and can show you where you need to focus your attention. 

"Walking Your Talk"?
In this case the old "Those who can't do, teach" saying is obsolete. I teach because I do. I learn more about my own practice when I teach. Luckily for me, begin a Vegan and a Yoga Teacher go hand in hand. Yoga teaches you to have compassion for yourself, to be self aware and self connected. Being vegan allows compassion for all living things and therefore makes me universally connected.

I never push Yoga or being vegan on anyone, but, trust me, if you have a question, I'll give you my journey and then some. And we should probably sit down.
Can you name what pose this is?

Ahimsa Quickfire:
Favorite yoga poses?
ardha chandrasana (Half Moon), virasana (Hero Pose), and bakasana (Crane Pose)

Favorite juices?
I juice all the time! Jason Vale's Turbo Juice:

Favorite mantras, affirmations, incantations?
Mantra: "Sa Ta Na Ma" (Infinity, Life, Death & Rebirth)
Affirmations: "I am enough. & I am right on time, all the time."

Favorite resources?
The Heart Of Yoga by T. K. V. Desikachar

Kelly Wood at Karuna Yoga and Hi!Yoga
Anthony & Rebecca Benenati at City Yoga

Check out, and contact for more information on how to start your yoga practice with Ashley.  Keep an eye out for Bikini Boot Camp (Dec. 18-24th, 2012) where Ashley can be your guest yoga teacher in Tulum, Mexico.  (Go ahead... treat yourself to a early holiday present...)

All the best and yummiest to you. 

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