This April, we’re showing off Caroline Williams, one of Bella Prana’s Ashtanga teachers! We are so grateful for the love and kindness Caroline shares with our Bella Prana community. Read below to hear about Caroline’s journey to falling in love with Ashtanga Yoga.
I began my journey into Ashtanga in January 2013. I was working on a street lined with yoga studios, and I was on a mission to try them all. The one that intrigued me the most but also intimidated me- was an Ashtanga studio. I talked to the girls at the front about this Mysore style Ashtanga class and it took about 4 months before I actually walked in for my first practice.
A little background – my experience with asana was limited. Mostly practicing Hatha or Vinyasa with friends and a few months of exploring Kundalini. While I sat at home reading books on yoga philosophy and had a deep desire to explore further- I had a strong force holding me back – that was PTSD induced anxiety. Walking into classrooms with loud music, performing vulnerable asana, in a classroom full of people that I did not know – I usually left these classes exhausted with stress. Once I walked into my first Mysore class – I almost immediately felt comfort. No music. The only sound was BREATH. Lots of breath – that resembled waves crashing onto the shore. It was soothing. Something else I felt was FREEDOM. I was in CONTROL. I could began and end on my own time. I could sit with vulnerability for as long as I needed to. I came to a few classes and noticed something else – COMMUNITY. I became familiar with the other practitioners quickly, because it was the same community sharing this space. A lot of them practicing 6 days a week! This Mysore room that I initially observed as intimidating, quickly began to feel safe – and that’s not something that I felt often. And thats when I began my journey with Ashtanga yoga – with Jessica Lynne as my teacher.
My first 2 years, I eased my way in. While I admired these super dedicated practitioners, I didn’t think that I had the room for a 6 day/ week practice. I remained inconsistent but inspired. One thing that I did notice, is that the more I practiced, the better I felt – Physically, emotionally, mentally. In 2015, I signed up for my 200 hour Ashtanga YTT with Ally Ford. I had no intentions of teaching, I was only hoping to learn more about the practice and hold some space for personal growth. I did just that and in the process, the dedication just came. It was no longer a crazy thought to practice 6 days / week. It felt easy and necessary. And so did teaching.
Since then, I have enjoyed a balance of holding space for my personal practice while learning how to share Ashtanga with others. I was honored to complete a 600+ hour Apprenticeship with Jessica Lynne – my teacher of now over 5 years! I love this practice because it continues to challenge me and I am forever inspired. Mornings spent in the Mysore room encourage me to begin the day with this moving mediation. I feel centered and mentally strong. As a Massage Therapist of over 9 years, this practice helps me to maintain my body for physical work days. And on top of all this – I get to practice with other AMAZING practitioners – sharing energies in this one safe space. Waves of breath crashing in each corner of the room.
As a teacher, I am also still growing.. always will be. I am honored to share this practice with others and enjoy learning more with each student. Sharing yoga + bodywork is my passion! When I am not in the studio, you can most likely find me outdoors – exploring my other passion – the ocean.
Thanks for reading. Metta <3