Teacher Feature; Ali Alexander
Unlike a lot of people, Ali was fortunate enough to get an early start in his yogic journey. She remembers practicing yoga in her classroom at the age of 6. ” Once a week, a teacher from a different school came and taught my grade one class yoga,” she says, “I can still remember lying on the floor in Savasana in the darkened classroom – thank you Mrs. Jones for being my first yoga teacher!”
Ali officially began her consistent practice in 2002, inspired by all of the teachers she had help to enrich her own yogic path. “I feel that it has been a combination of the amazing teachers I’ve had the privilege to study with and the transformation that I have undergone through the practice that inspires me to teach,” she says, “Yoga has been a source of healing, of self-development and of community for me and it is my heartfelt desire to share those benefits with as many people as I can, so I teach to serve and to give.”
In 2005, Ali began her journey as a teacher. She joined a 300 hour Jivamukti course with instructors David Life and Sharon Gannon, looking to expand her horizons as both an instructor and student. “It was a month-long residential program in New York state with 98 international trainees in the class – many of whom I still keep in touch with despite our geographic separation,” says Ali, “That experience shaped not only the teacher I am today but also brought me to an understanding that every aspect of my life is my ‘practice’. In terms of developing the skills and confidence to teach drop-in classes, my subsequent 500-hour Jivamukti apprenticeship with Yumee Chung was invaluable.”
But that was not the end of her training.”I completed a 50 hour Yin Teacher Training with Tracey Soghrati in 2011,” she continues, “While very different in approach than a vinyasa-style like Jivamukti, Tracey’s program is compatible as she too completed the Jivamukti training and apprenticeship. I am honoured to now be a part of that training program.
It was the variety of styles and classes that originally brought Ali to Yoga Tree. It has been three years since she has started teaching with our studios and it is the community of students that helps her know that she is in the right place. “I have grown a great deal as a teacher and as a practitioner in the three years I have been teaching for Yoga Tree,” says Ali, “The opportunity to teach at a studio from the very beginning (as I’ve done at both Richmond & Spadina and Yonge & Eglinton) is really special. To be a part of creating the community and growing along with the students, teachers, and staff is a very powerful experience that I am so grateful for. I also appreciate the opportunity to teach and practice in different communities – we may all be in the GTA but each Yoga Tree studio and community is unique. I can’t wait to see what develops at the Bay & Dundas location!”
When it comes to teaching, Ali has several helpful tips that apply to all beginners.”1) Make it ‘easy’ to do – pick a class(es) that will be convenient to your schedule and your home or work,” she says, “2) Make it an experience you want to have – try different styles and different teachers until you find the ones that you connect with best. 3) Make it a regular activity – Once you settle on a class or set of classes to start with, go to the same class every week. The teachers will get to know you and will be able to better answer your questions and to guide your practice. 4) Make it a priority – put it in your calendar and let people know that you have a regular commitment. 5) Make it a time for you to be kind to yourself – be patient when you don’t know something, be open to failing, and see the lessons it brings.”
Out of all of the questions in the interview, Ali found “what is your favorite asana?” to be the most difficult to answer. “At the moment, it is all the forms of Baddha Konasana – also know as Bound Angle Pose, Butterfly and Cobbler’s Pose. I practice it almost every day in one of its many possible variations and I teach it in all the styles of class that I offer at YogaTree. I love the way the posture has transformed my body, and how I can use it both to stimulate or to soothe the mind and body. As a teacher, I want these same things for my students, so I try to teach them what has worked for me. Practically, it can be adapted to accommodate students of different body types and different ranges of mobility so it is a very accessible posture.”
Be sure to join Ali and Anita for their Yin Yoga and Meditation workshop on March 22nd, 2014, at the Richmond and Spadina studio from 3:30PM to 6:30PM. You can also enjoy one of Ali’s beautiful classes at either our Richmond and Spadina or Yonge and Eglinton studio!