This month, we’re proud to introduce you to Della, our newest Bella Prana Ashtanga teacher!

Hello friends! My name is Della Ruth Marsan and I thrilled to have this chance to introduce myself and share with you how Ashtanga came into my life!

Even though I didn’t know it at the time, my Ashtanga journey began at what I feel was the lowest point in my life. I was lost, confused and stressed because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my future and I didn’t realize or allow myself to acknowledge that I was severely unhappy. Yoga has been in my life for about 11 years but only as a supplement to my professional dance career because it was just another way to stay in shape and warm my body up. One day I woke up and decided that I could see myself practicing yoga “seriously”. The following week I came to Bella Prana where I eventually met Jessica and then I jumped head first into the full Ashtanga primary series. I remember feeling super nervous and my dancer brain was already gearing up in preparation for the “performance” I was about to begin. As soon as the opening mantra began I was hooked; I had never been in a class with chanting so of course I’d never heard anything like it! It was beautiful and inspiring. The entire class was incredibly challenging both physically and mentally and I LOVED it. By the end of class I felt exhilarated, exhausted and curious about what the heck I just did but most of all, I couldn’t wait to come back. It was such an incredible experience that I decided to “go big or go home” and commit myself to attending Mysore class every single day, even though I didn’t know what that meant. It was very impulsive of me, but I somehow knew this was my calling, this is what I was meant to do! (I also made this personal commitment the week before the “Fall Back” daylight saving time so it was much easier to convince myself that I could get up at 5 or 6am everyday.)

The first time I walked into the Mysore room I almost chickened out; I was talking to another student outside of the room who told me she had been practicing on and off for months and when I asked her what to expect she said “oh it’s so hard, you have to memorize everything” and then she walked in and left me. I was stupidly nervous but I made the choice to go in and in that moment it was the best decision I ever could have made! Once I laid out my mat and began practicing I felt so clumsy and stumbled my way through the practice, afterwards I felt like I would only succeed if I memorized the sequence. (In dance it’s generally frowned upon to ask questions about what is supposed to come next so I had hard time trying to accept that I should ask what I’m supposed to be doing and I didn’t have to completely rely on my memorization skills.) When I went home I printed out several different PDFs of the primary series that I found online and studied them every day in the car before going in the studio to practice until I felt confident enough in myself to remember. Every single day since then has been an amazing, beautiful and crazy challenge that has made my life so much better on AND off the mat, which is something I never dreamed would happen when I began this journey. I love how the practice is different every day, even though it’s the same sequence, and I LOVE how I learn something new about myself, (and the process), so often!

Now I practice Ashtanga because I cannot see myself living a life in which I do NOT practice Ashtanga yoga. Can I call it an addiction? A positive, life changing, soul awakening, finding myself, healthy addiction? I love the journey, I love all of the challenges, I love how my mind is clearer and more organized. I love how it makes my body feel, even when it doesn’t feel good, I love how it’s not only the time spent on my mat that makes me feel so good because I find myself learning and practicing throughout each day. But in reality, I can’t really find the true words to describe why I practice Ashtanga and why I love it so much. It feels like it’s a part of me now, I feel at home with Ashtanga which in turn makes me feel at home with myself.

Last summer I received my 200 hour yoga teacher training at Asheville Yoga Center where I studied under a fabulous team of teachers and practitioners. My training at AYC was amazing but I wanted to dive deeper into the traditional practice and history of Ashtanga yoga which is why I am honored to have the opportunity to be a part of Jessica Lynne Trese’s apprenticeship program! I wanted to be her apprentice and begin teaching Ashtanga yoga for a couple of reasons: I love how Ashtanga is not one size fits all; it’s one size fits one! This yoga is truly for everyone because it is accessible to ALL types of people and bodies. I say this because dance, especially ballet, is not always accessible to all types of people/bodies. I have spent my entire life completely immersed in dance but now I want to be a part of something that we ALL can do and maybe one day I can help change the conversation for dance. I also teach Ashtanga yoga because I believe I should be teaching what I practice and my hope is that I can help guide and inspire students towards a beautiful journey of self discovery and awareness. And who knows, maybe it might help the world become a little better of a place. <3