February 13, 2012

Losing Downward Dog. ~ Ashley Carpenter

I only began yoga a few years ago.  But was instantly aware that it was the thing that was missing in my life as well as somewhere that, unlike most other places, gave me a sense of home and belonging. On this journey to discover what kind and what teachers I enjoyed the most I discovered that really all or most would bring me joy. After completing a 200 hr teacher training I had immersed myself in love. Love for yoga, love for life and love for each person I met during this journey. It made me whole, sane and gave me a reason to strive to be better – and this is what I most identified with. Somehow I managed to keep it all together, going back to a job I needed but no longer felt complete with.

It was probably a year before I was forced to re-think what I was doing. Work left me aching. My body was slowly declining into something I can only describe as a dark place. And for someone who had discovered what light could do, I was fighting it with everything I possibly could. Denial of being able to fix things or change the way you do things would only make it worse. The physicality of my job left me broken to a point that a gentle yoga class no longer suited me. I went from attempting intermediate classes I absolutely adored, to taking steps back trying to find a comfortable place. Even restorative left me in a place that I knew my body just couldn’t handle. When nerves are affected things get scary, emotional and my yoga home seemed so far away.

Reluctantly, I found the yoga I had been taught during training that allowed me to work through things no matter how hard they got.  While I waited for a treatment that was suppose to relieve some pain, I soaked in baths, meditated on candlelight, and took deep breaths. The hardest part of everything was not being able to take a class when I was overwhelmed and anxious. Trying to find that peaceful place when the only Om you have is your own. Somehow it should be easier to find peace when suddenly you have more than enough time on your hands to do it. But the lack of activity and not being able to do so much made it increasingly difficult. There were definitely moments of great thoughts and positive thinking.

But when the pain struck I often felt helpless.

The fact was that not only was my yoga taken away due to injury but so was this career, that whether fantastic or not, I was facing not being able to continue. Even if these treatments get me back to one hundred percent, there was still a big chance that if I had one rough day at work, in extreme situation (which is quite often in my job) that it would lead me right back to where I am today. Pain, Pain, Pain. For so many thoughts in my head all I can do is write it out, breathe deep, and hope that the answers will find me and I them.

Yoga gave me something that I cannot lose no matter how harsh the circumstance and that is faith, yoga at its simplest form made me understand that I am here and it such a beautiful day.

Ashley Carpenter works in Los Angeles in Film and Television as a Camera Assistant and Operator. She lives in Sun Valley and discovered yoga at Yoga Blend in Burbank. When she’s not on a TV or movie set, Ashley is taking a class or hiking with her dog Bojangles.


This article was prepared by Assistant Yoga Editor, Lauren Foster.

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Penny Shier Apr 9, 2012 2:59pm

Did Nicole mention safety signals in her book at all? I remember reading in Karen Overall’s book or perhaps it was one of her papers a reference to a study where a safety signal was used to tell a dog their owner was coming home any moment. Apparently the success rate was up around 80%, which as far as I know beats the pants off every other method. I’m very interested in safety signals. I taught my hare a safety signal that has been very helpful in training him. He will actually pause when I use it when he’s in a state provided he’s not running blindly, and if he’s indecisive and looks like he might move away from me, I can use it to turn the tide in my favour and he will usually stay put for long enough to calm down enough to change his mind about running away. I’ve been thinking about how it might be useful with my young Vallhund, who sometimes gets spooked by things like someone making a loud noise in another part of the house, or strange people that come around and bustle about in his house and don’t ever say a word to him. His response to being spooked is to bark a lot and get all tense ready to do something. I have been thinking, if I could just tell him at that point that he’s safe, maybe I can deal with these things well before I have to start counter-conditioning.

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