MEET THE FIRST TEACHER AT OMPRACTICE ASHLEY KACHELMEYER. HER ALL-IN APPROACH TO YOGA AND WELLBEING IS INSPIRING. FROM USING YOGA TO SUPPORT HER CAREER TEACHING DEAF AND HEARING IMPAIRED CHILDREN TO BEING THE BEST BONUS MOM AND DOG MOM SHE CAN, HER YOGA CRED WILL IMPRESS YOU. IF YOU HAD ANY DOUBT, NOW IS THE TIME TO LOG ON TO OMPRACTICE FOR MORE AUTHENTIC YOGA AND REAL LIFE WISDOM FROM ASHLEY.
Ashley’s Yoga Adventures
In 3 short years, you’ve had a pretty big impact and cross-country journey teaching yoga. Tell us about your adventures in yoga.
My teaching background has turned out to be as eclectic as my taste in music. After completing my first 200 hour yoga teacher training in January of 2015 I immediately began sharing my love for the practice as soon as anyone would listen!
I taught my friends who would come over after work and roll out their mats on my living room floor. I taught my high school students breathing techniques during their study halls to help them prepare for tests. I taught in athletic clubs! I taught to large groups of teens attending summer camp. I taught classes during yoga retreats in Jamaica.
Six month in, I packed up my car in the heat of August, grabbed my 6-month-old puppy in, and moved across the country to Los Angeles yearning to teach more yoga!
The first thing I did was to implement an after school yoga class and I taught that–and still do– at my elementary school. Suddenly, I found myself teaching in Bel Air to private clients in the comfort of their own homes. Then I added to the list: my husbands’ youth baseball players on the beach, students at a traditional studio in Long Beach and corporate yoga classes for Virgin Galactic.
One of my proudest achievements was this past Fall. I worked with Breathe For Change and taught a 200-hour yoga teacher training for school educators. My latest move: joining the Ompractice squad where I’m overjoyed to help build this online yoga community!
What made you decide to make a career of teaching yoga?
My first power yoga class was in January of 2011 in Northampton, Massachusetts. One of my best friends begged me for months to try it and then dragged me to a class with her. (Shout out to Victoria Vendola for your persistence!) As a busy graduate school student I “didn’t have time” to go to yoga and was on a slippery slope of partying hard on weekends. Excuses and parties don’t mix well with yoga and I quickly learned from my teachers that, “the path that blocks the path, IS the path.” From then on, I’ve never looked back.
You went from public education to teaching yoga? How was that?
After working for 10 years in the education field as a teacher/leader in various settings, I was ready to add more depth to my skill set. My yoga teachers were an inspiration to me on and off the mat. When I learned two of them were leading a 200 hour teacher training at my studio, I wasted no time signing up. My commitment was to sweating, healing, listening, building physical strength, and learning about myself while making meaningful connections with other like-minded folks.
I felt an inner calling to dive deeper into the practice and I knew my teachers would help me in the best way possible. I just wanted to share with people what I knew to be true about the practice of yoga and meditation. Sharing how to incorporate yoga into your lifestyle can have a profound impact on how you navigate your experience and your relationships on earth.
When you aren’t teaching or practicing yoga, what are you up to?
… Reading about yoga!
You can also find me spending quality time with my husband, marveling at the colorful produce at the Long Beach farmers market, making snacks in my kitchen, hiking with our dogs, traveling the world, and hanging out with family and friends.
You were one of the first teachers to sign on to this new platform Ompractice. Did you suspect they were on to something?
I was visiting Western Massachusetts over summer break and I was lucky enough to cross paths with Chris and his wife, Kate. He shared his vision for Ompractice and asked me to consider joining the movement. Since I’ve known Chris, I’ve always been inspired by him and the way he delivers yoga to people. It was a no-brainer to say, “YES.”
What was the appeal for you in using two-way video to teach interactive yoga classes?
I was initially drawn to the idea of live interactive classes because I would be able to reach my former students from back East! That was exciting because it was like an online hangout with my friends helping them feel good. Over time though, I grew to love being a part of the at-home chaos that would show up during classes.
It’s a window in real lives. Babies would be grabbing the phone and trying to do Downward Facing Dog with us, animals would make their presence known, family members would come in and out of the room… But whatever it was, we kept going just like we have to do in life. My philosophy is: when things get messy or don’t go as planned, you just have to stay steady on your path and keep going.
MORE ABOUT YOUR CLASSES ON OMPRACTICE
Tell us about the key differences between a studio class and an Ompractice live class online?
Well, I still burn incense and light as many candles as I would in a studio setting. What I love about teaching online is the convenience of it. You do not have to sit in traffic anxiously trying to get to the studio on time. Which means: there is no excuse for being late or missing class because of the traffic at least.
What makes your classes uniquely yours?
In life, and in my classes, I always try to keep things very real. Whether that’s having a tough conversation with someone I love or acknowledging that a certain posture might bring up some old shit that needs to be dealt with. I can usually read the energy of the class and adapt my vibe to deliver a message that is needed in that moment.
I focus a lot on directing students’ breath. We all need to be reminded to inhale more love and possibility, and exhale that which does not serve us anymore. I would describe my classes as challenging, yet accessible; playful yet purposeful; inspiring yet attainable.
People tend to think yoga teachers all live off kale and meditate every single day. Is there something people would be surprised to know about you?
In an ideal world, I would live off kale and meditate every single day but I have a stressful day job. I am the director of a special education program for students who are deaf and/or hard of hearing at a prestigious private school in Los Angeles. I sit in traffic for about two hours each way and then have to perform in my role. When I get home (after 2 more hours of commuting) I am a wife and dog mom and bonus mom.
Sometimes my food choices don’t always align with the way I wish to fuel my body. Sometimes they reflect convenience. Excess in moderation, right?!
I practice and teach yoga so I can better manage my busy life off the mat. I know that when I’m taking care of myself, I’m better able to take care of others. It’s as simple as that.
How do your students on Ompractice inspire you?
My students inspire me because they show UP! They put in the work to take class, sign up ahead of time, log on, download the necessary apps and create space in their homes and in their lives for me to guide them through a yoga practice. I repeat, they invite me into their lives at home. How special is that?
WHERE ACCESSIBILITY MEETS INSPIRATION
The two-way video on Ompractice is really innovative. Why do you think this is a way to make yoga more accessible?
What I love about this new technology is that it’s user-friendly and very simple. Anyone can access this platform. From my experience, the quality of the live stream video and the sound quality are both great! You get a live class and live feedback from a teacher who can actually see you in real time. I know going to yoga studios can sometimes be intimidating (and expensive). Being in the comfort of your own space, with your own teacher, and an affordable class is a home run in my opinion!
How do you think everyone could benefit from more yoga regardless of their level of experience?
I always tell my students, “if you are breathing, you are doing yoga.” Just by doing the simple act of breathing and matching your movements to your breath is ‘doing’ yoga. It is not about twisting your body into advanced asana poses, although, that will eventually happen as a byproduct of your continued practice. It’s about mind-body connection and taking the time out of your day to connect to yourself. Just by taking 5 minutes to sit down and breathe mindfully, still your body and silencing your mind has tremendous benefits for the central nervous system and our overall well-being. Everyone can benefit from some “me time,” especially in this crazy world in which we are all co-existing in.
How does yoga help you live a better life on and off the mat?
Do you ever stretch and it feels like you just pulled your whole life together? It’s a domino effect of goodness! I have yet to ever regret taking a yoga class or rolling out my mat. For me, yoga is the remembering and commitment to begin again and take life one breath or one movement at a time.
I crave the physical aspect of the practice because it’s where everything that needs to teach me something will show up, as long as I’m listening and open to it. It’s through that listening and observation that I can make my next best move. May it be the way in which I flow from one posture to the next, or stretch deeper into a pose; or maybe it’s during an interaction where I choose to respond intentionally rather than reacting emotionally. Yoga helps me to be aware of my thought patterns and to view them as passing information rather than letting them dictate my mood.
Any final words?
Yoga encourages me to celebrate my body for the amazing things that it can still do after 35 years! Yoga grounds me. It brings me back to my center, my natural state of being. It reminds me to be kind and compassionate with myself which is so valuable because everything starts with how you feel about yourself. When you are kind and loving to yourself, you glow from the inside. You attract people who love, respect and appreciate your energy. Yoga reminds me that I am worthy, valuable, and deserving of receiving the best that life has to offer. It makes me better for others.
Here are more inspiring stories from Ompractice.