A ten-year veteran asana teacher decides to give back to the world by focusing on karma yoga. This is not an uncommon story, but it’s one worth hearing over and over. The practice of yoga and, later, the experience of teaching the physical practice was enough to inspire Ashley DiMeglio to seek out ways to donate her time an efforts to worthy causes, such as the environment and animal rescue. This is her story:
Elephant Yoga: Hi Ashley, thank you for speaking with Elephant Yoga today. We were hoping to hear more about your turn to teaching yoga for a cause. First, please tell us how long have you been practicing yoga? Teaching yoga? What kind of yoga do you teach?
Ashley DiMeglio: I have been doing yoga since I was young with my mom. She introduced me to yoga in a local gym by my house in upstate NY. My grandmother was a yogini also. I have been teaching Yoga for over 5 years. I combine several yogas into my classes, Vinyasa, Hatha, Ashtanga series, Kundalini, Tibetan Yoga, Restorative Yoga and several other yogas that I have studied and trained in.
EY: Can you briefly describe one of your classes?
AD: When I teach a class, I always make sure to be real, true, and always observing of all students. I try to make yoga “real” so that when a new comer comes into my class they don’t feel awkward with the whole “yoga stereotype”. People think that yoga is for pretzel people for the flexible people. “No, no, it’s for everyone,” I always say. I think my studies and experience for teaching hundreds of yoga classes a year helps me to be a better teacher. In return I guide each and every yogi into their own yoga practice but also adding a wonderful new road into my own journey. Yes, I am a yoga teacher but to me teaching a yoga class consists of me being your guide, your gentle push into your mind to discover what your potential is what you can seek to know yourself better. I teach yoga to help others dig deep into themselves. I do this through a flowing class so that my student has no time to pay attention to his rattling mind’s thoughts of or the stress they hold inside. I am known for slipping in a balance pose slowly so that before you realize it you are in flying crow or and inversion . . . I mix inversions in and a possible arm balance to show the student “hey even if you can’t do this pose at least you tried!” Trying anything brings you closer to the practice of yoga in a different sense not just the asanas but it lets you realize that this corresponds with the fears in your own life and how it relates to overcoming them. You will never get the same yoga class twice from me.
EY: What got you interested in social activism? How do you think your work off the mat relates to your work on it?
AD: I got into social activism in 2009 and then fully in 2010.I was heartbroken and extremely upset by watching the news when the BP Oil Spill first happened in the Gulf. Then when the news and articles came out that the Wild Life and Marine Life were dying from all the oil that covered them I knew in my heart I had to do something to help this in some way. I decided that I wasn’t just going to sit here and watch, I was going to do something about it. I thought, “what can one person do? Why can’t I reach out more to others?” I decided that one way to help was to do yoga for the cause. Why not have teachers each teach at this event giving a variety of yoga styles and all proceeds go to the Wild Life Federation and to Help Animals in our area and community as well? The meaning of the word “Yoga” it means to unite body, mind, spirit. Yoga is a wonderful way to help as we unite together to help and to radiate out healing powers to our animals that live on this earth with us. I then started branching out to other causes and forming charity events for American Cancer Society by going to the town and carrying my proposal to do these events. I started thinking what cause really affects me and others? I realized that while teaching yoga classes I had cancer survivors and family members that would tell me about their loved ones and how much it affected them. I thought about my own grandmother and how she passed way too early in her life to cancer. I then received a permit to do a park event in Congers, NY and rolled with it an event in honor of my grandmother who passed from a rare cancer and of all those affected from it. Before this I was working on Animal Shelter Yoga Events raising awareness of Animal Rescues.I have found love from my own cat that I adopted from a local rescue group. Her cat was abused and left declawed in the back of someone’s yard left and hungry. She in return wants to reach out to help animals get homes like her cat, who wakes up every morning to sun shining through the window instead of the cage she spent half her life in.
EY: Can you tell us a little about the kinds of karma yoga events you’ve worked on in the past?
AD: The Karma Events I have worked on include: leading half of the Lululemon “get your asana outside event;” organizing “Do Yoga help Wild Life affected by Gulf Oil Spill”on 6/5/10,7/3/10, and 8/21/10 (proceeds went to the Wild Life Federation); a yoga event for the Rockland County NY Animal Rescue; another called Yoga Love for shelter pets; and I organized and created the first ever Yoga in the Park for American Cancer Society (there was live music, entertainment and major companies donated water and small snacks).
EY: Are you working on any new projects right now?
AD: I am currently involved and working on several Karma yoga events coming up: August 17th Sunset Yoga for Underprivileged Kids ,where donations will be going to fund tuition for children to attend dance schools and to participate in recreational activities. The funds are going to children that will have a chance to enjoy activities they wouldn’t be able to afford. On Sept. 11th 2011, I have organized a Park event in Congers, NY where all proceeds will be going to The Sept 11th Families Affected by 9/11. I was asked to be a part of a few karma events that I will be helping with in the fall as well. I am constantly thinking of charities to donate to and to form yoga events where all the donations go to help the cause.
Ashley DiMeglio is a certified 500hr & 500hr E-RYT yoga teacher. She is an ambassador for Manduka. Her vast portfolio includes various certifications and studies within Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Restorative, Tibetan, and other yoga teachings. She has trained with many wonderful teachers and isstill continuing to train in more. Her personal experience has brought her to realize that if you lead with the breath the heart will follow. Ashley has been teaching yoga for over 5 years and started yoga with her mom at an early age. Ashley’s grandmother dabbled in yoga in the early 1970’s and 1980’s with a guru. She has led outside yoga events in Upstate NY; assisted in Yoga Festivals; organized and created yoga events to raise money for animal shelters and animal rescue groups and for The American Cancer Society. She is also the creator for Rockland County NY “Yogis for a Cause.” She makes yoga an experience and a journey of discovery.