I had the pleasure of meeting Ali Hale Tilley at her ashram in Lyall Bay.
We sat in her meditation room with stunning views of Wellington, sipping tea, and talking yoga.
Her artwork adorned the walls, and the room was spacious, light, and dedicated to the practice of yoga – complete with shrines. Two hours flew past as Ali shared with me some of her yoga story.
Blessed with the radiance of those who practice yoga regularly, Ali of course seemed a decade younger than her chronological age (something very common to yoga teachers!). Her compact frame literally radiated prana – despite her height, this is not a woman I would like to meet in a dark ally if I was a mugger!
She spoke with passion about her yoga journey, and often stopped to pay homage to the divine or her guru. We didn’t practice yoga or meditate during our time together, but I left with that clarity one gains from spending time in pranayama, asana, or meditation.
As a result of our connection, Ali agreed to answer the following questions, and be the first yoga teacher profiled in this series of posts.
1. What style of yoga do you practice and where do you teach?
I run Sadhana Yoga Studio at 9 Park Road, Miramar. There are 15 classes on offer, the studio has a vibrant yet relaxed feel and beginners are welcome.
With the classes I teach, I blend the dynamic aspects of Hatha Yoga with the fluid choreography of functional movement. Each class takes into account the energy levels, needs and abilities of students on the day, so the yoga is integrated and evolving with adaptations and advancements given to regular students. Breath is the focus of each transitional movement and this provides extensive physiological and mental benefits.
I qualified as an Ashtanga yoga teacher 5 years ago through Yoga Alliance, but have 20 years professional experience in rehabilitation, fitness and well-being programming.
Yoga is a way of life for me; I live it, breathe it, teach it and continue to learn from its vast science.
2. How did you come to yoga?
My Godmother/ Aunty, Pauline Goode was a national yoga teacher in the 60’s and 70’s and it was she who first introduced me to Yoga as a young child – there is a picture of me doing full scorpion at the age of 7!
Aunty Paul would have 60-70 people in her classes, she was a very inspiring woman and I knew when I got older I too would teach Yoga. Its not a surprise I also teach Kids Yoga, which is a hugely successful programme.
3. When did the yoga bug really get you?
Yoga has been my on-going destiny for many years. I simply had to get old enough and wise enough to teach it.
4. How has yoga transformed your life?
Yoga is a living science developed over the past 2500 years by yogis committed to the inner journey. We are all at different stages of our personal practice and inner journey i.e. sadhana. By sticking to a strict yoga lifestyle; encompassing all 8 limbs, I have been able to become subtle enough to regularly experience ‘god-conscious’ awareness.
Enlightenment in this lifetime has been a goal of mine since I was 15. Sometimes my personal practice places me in full absorbtion (samadhi) but each day presents knew challenges, lessons and facets of the fully enlightened state.
5. What is your home practice like?
My home practice is very meditative and devotional. I study and contemplate the yogic philosophy so I can have deep and true answers for my students. After asana and pranayama has purified the body and mind, then the mind is ready to withdraw from the senses (pratyahara) and focus inwards (dharana) over extended periods of time (dhyana). This can lead to absorption in god-consciousness (samadhi). These inspiring moments are the highlights of my home practice.
6. When people ask you, “What is Yoga?”, what do you say?
Yoga is union of body-mind, mind-breath, outer-inner, gross and subtle. All that separates us from our perfect state is the opposite of yoga. Yoga is union of all opposites.
7. What can people expect from one of your classes?
Each class at the studio emphasises different levels for different people, but to sum it up I would say classes are: Active, Enjoyable, Relaxed and Energising.
8. What do you love most about teaching yoga?
Learning new things from my students and seeing advancements in individuals’ abilities.
9. What do you wish everybody knew about yoga?
Yoga is an amazing lifestyle option that has numerous benefits on every level. Its not about contortion, or sitting passively, it’s not a religion. It is a living growing science that promotes a tension free body and a calm clear mind.
10. What role do you see yoga playing in our world?
Transforming ignorance to bliss, disease to wellness, darkness to light.
11. Anything else you’d like to say?
If you would like to go on an amazing yoga adventure with a small group of 8 yogis, our next trip is 14 days in Kathmandu and Nepal in September 2009. If you would like to visit the Global Yoga Ashram in Lyall Bay for satsang and meditation send me an email – sadhana-yoganz at gmail.com
12. And finally, how do people find you?
They can send me an email – sadhana-yoganz at gmail.com, check out my website or visit Sadhana Yoga Studio, 9 Park Road, Miramar.