TEACHER SPOTLIGHT: Ashley Serrao

What keeps students returning to Ashley’s gentle but invigorating classes is her incredible knowledge of the body and the practices of yoga but also her soothing presence. Ashley is near the end of the 500 Hour Viniyoga Therapy Training with Gary Kraftsow and the wealth of information she has obtained from the training is obvious in her class. Viniyoga™ is a comprehensive and authentic transmission of the teachings of yoga including asana, pranayama, bandha, sound, chanting, meditation, personal ritual and study of texts. Whether you are taking your first yoga class or your thousandth, you will enjoy Ashley’s meditative and educational class. Come check her out!

Questions for Ashley…

What led you here to the RF Valley?

I was recently married as of April 2011 and my new husband randomly got a job at KDNK radio station in Carbondale. So from Austin we moved to Carbondale in September of 2011. I had spent quite a bit of time in the Roaring Fork Valley growing up so it was second nature for us to come here. So far it’s been a wonderful experience for us both.

What brought you first to yoga?

My grandmother taught seniors yoga in Barbados, where she and my Grandpa lived for many years. I would visit them in the summertime when I was young. My grandma used to take me to her yoga class and I would listen along and do the movements – I must have been 7 or so. The old people loved me and I remember it as a sweet memory. You could say it was in my blood. My grandma would give me tapes to listen on hatha yoga as I got older. In college, I got out of a toxic relationship and yoga really was the key to bringing me back to balance and detoxing from my relationship. You could say that was when I started a consistent practice.

What kept you coming back?

I kept coming back because I felt better all around afterwards. I went initially for the physical practice, my body felt lighter and more flexible. I surprised myself at some of the more challenging postures I could do. Then eventually I realized it had something to do with my lowering my stress levels and improving things like digestion and focus. I realized this practice went beyond the physical, even putting me in touch with my spiritual side.

What is your own practice like?

I practice Viniyoga, which some people may not be familiar with. It is a lineage that comes from Krishnamacharya, created by Gary Kraftsow. Depending on how much time I have, I do a combination of asana, pranayama, chanting, and meditation. I do simple asana to prepare to sit and do about 15 minutes of pranayama, then I will chant (or chant during practice) depending on what I need that particular day. For example, during the winter we might have very dark days so I will focus on backbends in asana, energizing breath (Viloma Ujjayi and retaining the breath in postures), then I might chant the Gayatri Mantra to focus give thanks to light in the many different forms. Then if I have time, I will meditate on light, drawing light into my body from the crown of the head and having it travel down my spine then back up and out. My practice is very much on the energetic level and therapeutic level. I try not to treat it as my exercise but as my medicine. I find other forms of exercise and treat my yoga- as yoga!

What is your favorite thing about teaching?

Sharing the knowledge from an ancient tradition that has literally been around B.C. and has been working well for people for that long. It gives me great joy to hear that I helped someone release stress in their body or minds and give them a sense of freedom. Seeing people blissed out after savasana and pranayama makes it all the worth while. I also love creating a safe space for people express their worries whether physically or mentally and give them practical tools to dealing with these everyday life struggles. Its incredibly rewarding to see them experiencing a sense of freedom from this practice.

What is your favorite asana?

Its maybe not the most exciting pose but I have grown to love cakravakasana. Which is basically tabletop to childs pose. It’s I would call a healing pose. The spine moves like an ocean wave and it is like returning home for me every time.

Ashley’s Class:: Yoga for Every BODY:: Mondays & Fridays 10:30-11:30am

Yoga for Every BODY is a supportive and safe practice for all ages, body types, and levels. Build longevity and vitality through conscious sequencing, breath, and meditation. Appropriate for the older yogi, beginners, or those looking for a gentle and mindful class. (Must have some mobility to move from standing to sitting without assistance).

More about Ashley…

What Ashley loves most about yoga is the feeling of returning home every time she comes to the mat. She believes the key to physical and mental freedom is a consistent practice that is beyond the phsyical and moving in the the energetics of the yoga practice; for example, the pranayama and meditation. She strongly believes that the breath is the key to creating and building prana or vitality and ultimately improving the quality of life. Ashley is a registered 200 hour Hatha Yoga Instructor and a VIniyoga Instructor currently undergoing the 500 hour foundation for Viniyoga Therapy pprogram with Gary Kraftsow. She teaches a safe and supportive class Viniyoga class that encourages the student to support his/her emotional and physcial needs. Viniyoga ™ is a comprehensive and authentic transmission of the teachings of yoga including asana, pranayama, bandha, sound, chanting, meditation, personal ritual and study of texts. Join her to explore the depth and breadth of the yoga tradition. Ashley lives in Carbondale with her sweet dogs and husband. She is also a creative spirit, dabbling in the acting and writing world during her free time.