Teacher Spotlight – Ally Hamilton
Ally Hamilton is the mother of two amazing kids and one crazy Labradoodle, and the co-founder of YogisAnonymous.com an online yoga studio with a global community. She is a popular international yoga teacher and life coach whose passion is to empower everyone to live their best lives. Ally is the best-selling author of “Yoga’s Healing Power:Looking Inward for Change, Growth and Peace,” and “Open Randomly:Fortune Cookies for the Soul,”and her work has also appeared in the Huffington Post, MindbodyGreen, LA Yoga Magazine, and Belief.net
Ally’s Classes are a mix of dynamic vinyasa flow (you’ll sweat and have the chance to play with arm balances and inversions if you want to, but it’s never about the pose, it’s about your process!), mixed with yogic philosophy for our modern lives, and ending with seated meditation. If you like to move, breathe, heal, open, and sometimes laugh, this is probably a good fit.
1. How did you come to Yoga?
During my senior year at Columbia University I wandered into an advanced class with Dharma Mittra. I’d taken ballet for 12 years, and stopped dancing at 16. My best friend had been telling me she thought I’d love yoga, but I thought it was “stretching on the floor”, and that it would be too easy for me because of all the ballet. Thus, I headed to an advanced class and promptly had my asana handed to me. I was intrigued with the physical practice at first, but soon enough the deeper aspects of the philosophy and lifestyle took hold of me, and the rest is history!
2. What is a teaching or practice that has changed your life?
It’s hard to boil it down to one teaching or one practice. Seated meditation is a life-changer, I began a daily Vipassana meditation practice in 2001. There are so many parts of the physical practice that help me move through life with more ease and strength, not just in my body, but also because of things like focal points (drishtis) which train the mind to do one thing at a time. That’s the same skill we use when we go to a crowded restaurant with a friend, and manage to focus on our friend instead of the chaos around us. It’s the same ability we use when we choose one thought over another, which is often the difference between a day filled with suffering, or a day full of gratitude. Breathing through intense physical sensation on the mat makes it easier to breathe through intense physical sensation off the mat, so when we’re dealing with rage, sadness, longing, feelings of rejection, fear, anxiety or depression, we have tools to open to our feelings and understand ourselves. I could go on and on.
3. Why do you love teaching yoga
I love teaching yoga because it’s changed my life for the better in so many ways. There’s nothing I love more than sharing this practice which is so full of gifts that help us find peace, acceptance and understanding inside so we can spread those qualities outside. The world could certainly use more of that.
4. What book would you recommend, why?
I think I’m supposed to recommend a yoga book here, but instead I will say I’m a huge fan of Joan Didion, Mary Oliver and David Whyte. I love words and I love language and I love writing that takes your breath away.
5. What is your current favorite pose or practice and why?
Well, I’m always a fan of hip-openers and backbends. I find hip-openers help me let go of anything I might be “sitting on” (sometimes those things are anger, disappointment, despair) and backbends are great when you’re looking for your courage. It’s not a coincidence that the core of the word courage is “couer”, the French word for heart, and that we call backbends heart-openers 🙂