Ashley began teaching yoga over ten years ago and is known for her wit, practicality, and tenderness as an instructor. She grew up dancing, and brings to her classes a lifetime of body-knowledge and wisdom.
She has studied yoga asana and philosophy in the United States and in India with Swami Dayananda, Erich Schiffmann, Patricia Sullivan and Sat Santokh Sing. Sharp’s ongoing practice of Vipassana meditation led naturally to her unique weaving of mindfulness themes into each class, simultaneously deepening her students’ physical and spiritual practice.
She completed an eighteen-month Mindfulness and Yoga Training at Spirit Rock Meditation Center. Sharp is registered with Yoga Alliance as an E-RYT, Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher.
Our interview with Ashley:
N: What inspired you to take your first yoga immersion/teacher certification?
AS: I went on my first yoga immersion in part on a whim. I was in a transition in my life and had space, time and curiosity. Before this I had been attending daily yoga classes and had already found that I loved the practice of asana; it was a natural extension of my years of dance training. I wanted to learn more about the poses and more about the spiritual and philosophical aspects of yoga by living at a yoga ashram for a full month.
I went to the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Farm in Grass Valley, CA. During that month I was able to dive into the whole of the practice of yoga, meaning that I practiced yoga asana, chanting, pranayama and meditation twice a day, every day for the full month. There were no days off! The practices at the ashram fed my body and spirit – and we studied sacred texts which fed my intellect. To my surprise I found that I also loved the community of people at the ashram. We worked and practiced together and I felt supported and at home. This month was a cherished time in my life when I was able to live yoga all day every day with good friends and teachers.
N: Who have been the biggest influences on your career and your love for yoga?
AS: After this month at the Sivananda Ashram, I was completely inspired and dedicated to yoga in a way that hasn’t ever diminished. My path has been winding yet always interesting and fulfilling. I spent time studying Iyengar yoga mainly with Tony Briggs and Ramanand Patel. These classes taught me precision and alignment in the poses.
Later I found Patricia Sullivan, she started practicing yoga in 1970 and is a veritable example of a life lived with integrity through the full practice of yoga. Her classes are dear to my heart – they are held in her house with a small group of students. The community that develops as a group of people practice together over time is precious. Eventually I went to India to study not asana, but the nondual teachings of the Vedas, the sacred texts of India. Recently I have immersed myself in the Theravadan Buddhist tradition. I have found that the two traditions – Buddhist meditation and the yoga – magnify and enhance each other.
I studied dance for 16 years focusing first on ballet and then modern dance. I completed both a Kundalini Yoga Teacher training and (a year later) a vinyasa yoga teacher training with Erich Schiffmann. I completed an 18 month Mindfulness Yoga and Meditation Training through Spirit Rock Meditation Center which included 250 hours of continuing education in yoga. I attended a 3 month yoga therapy training for yoga teachers. I completed the level one Yoga Nidra teacher training with Richard Miller. Currently I am attending a two year Buddhist study program called the Dedicated Practioner’s Program at Spirit Rock.
AS: I am so inspired to offer a yoga teacher training. The teacher training format allows time for a structured comprehensive presentation of yoga. We will study aspects of the practice such as pranayama, meditation and spiritual teachings that often get missed or glossed over in public classes. First and foremost, the opportunity to really dive into the nuts and bolts of the physical practice is exciting – how do we move our body with grace and ease through the basic postures? What are the details of the poses and how can we practice in ways that are healthy and nurturing? I also love the experiential component – what happens to both our body and our mind when we practice asana? The teacher training also grows the mysterious connection between alignment in the postures and ease in the mind. Can we learn to balance effort and ease in the physical practice and in our lives too?
Yoga is the action of joining ourselves to True Nature through the practices of asana, pranayama and meditation. Paradoxically yoga is also the state of being joined with the Mystery which often we have forgotten and yet is already here. During a teacher training or immersion we have the opportunity to really experience both the practice of yoga and the state of yoga. During teacher trainings and immersions I love watching community grow. Friendships flourish as we come together as a group to witness and support that which is wholesome and beautiful in each other.
N: What are three things you strive to instill in every student when doing a teacher certification?
AS: My wish for the yogis attending the immersion and/or teacher training is that they come away with a strong understanding of the asana, lay a foundation in the art of teaching, have the experience of yoga – union with the divine, and feel seen and held in the community. The authentic experience of yoga allows for the graduating yogi to take her first steps on the path of living and teaching yoga.