Name: Ashley Neese
Occupation: Breathwork Teacher, Spirit Guide, Artist
Where are you from and where are you based? I’m from Atlanta, Georgia. I left in 2003 to pursue an art career in San Francisco, California. I’ve been living in Los Angeles nearly four years.
What are you working on? Oh so many things! To be honest I am trying to work on less. Since moving to Los Angeles I’ve been in the steady hustle of the city building relationships and my business. Now that things are flowing, meaning my life is off the ground, I am taking more time to look within and slow down. It feels really counter culture even in a laid back city like L.A. to have to make such a practice out of cultivating stillness. L.A. is a real broadcast center for the wellness industry and I’m in a place of figuring out how much I want to be part of it while at the same time staying true to myself.
What is your relationship to yoga and does it in any way influence your work? Absolutely. Yoga is a metaphor for the work that I do and for my life, really. For me, yoga has always been about cultivating a relationship to yourself so that you can be of real service in your community. There are so many people in my field that go through the motions of teaching yoga, working as coaches and teachers without actually doing the daily practice of what yoga’s true essence is – radical self care. This level of self care I am talking about requires a tremendous amount of self discipline and willingness to feel uncomfortable. One of my teachers always says if we’re not feeling butterflies in our stomach on a regular basis we’re not doing the work. I want to stretch myself beyond my self-imposed limitations and live in that place of radical self care on a daily basis. As often as possible I approach my life from a place of compassion, empathy, and love. This is what yoga teaches us and it invites us to practice all of the time, not just when we’re on our mats.
What inspires you in this practice and what have you learned? I am inspired by the fact that there is no end to our personal growth. We can always go deeper and learn more about ourselves and as we do that, we learn more about each other and the world. I’ve been practicing nearly 12 years and it’s been such an incredible journey. Lately I’ve been learning through my breath work practice and teaching that we have the power to overcome so much by simply paying attention to how we breathe.
Where do you go to find peace in your city and why? I love to go to the ocean. The water is very soothing to my nervous system and I love breathing in the fresh air. Los Angeles unfortunately is very polluted and I love to fill my lungs with ocean air as often as possible. What is your best advice to experience your city? Take it slow and stick to just a few neighborhoods at a time. Los Angeles is very spread out. It can take over an hour to drive from one side of town to the other. Before I moved here I would just hangout in a couple of areas per visit. This made my trip much more relaxing. Also, visit the Hollywood Farmers market on Sunday, it’s amazing!
Find out more about Ashley Neese here.
Text by Caroline Wachsmuth. After many years studying natural therapies including massage and aromatherapy, Caroline moved to Paris where she launched her first beauty brand, Doux Me, in 2002. Now based in San Francisco, Caroline is designing and creating anew, expanding awareness about green beauty and cultivating her ashtanga practice. Read her Insiders Guide to San Francisco here.
Photo by Marielle Chua