Alana Bray is the owner of Yoga Bound in Carlsbad, California. She’s also a yoga teacher, yoga therapist and holistic health counselor. Alana was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions from us, and she had some interesting things to say:
How did you first get interested in yoga? I first got interested in Yoga, like many people do, as part of my fitness routine. I was in college and I fell in LOVE with it. Everything about the way it made me feel kept me coming back. I slowly noticed that the bad habits in my life were changing, being filtered out and my life simply became brighter. After college I had no idea what career path to choose, so I went with my heart and chose to further my education in Yoga and make it a bigger part of my life.
What difference has yoga made in your life? It has made my life. If I did not have Yoga I would not have been able to cope with the more difficult times, or been able to see how abundant the good times are. Being able to have a practice that helps me create space around whatever is, whether good or bad, has made my life a continuous process of evolution as well as helped me to be emotionally and spiritually stable amongst the ebb and flow balance that life is. If I didn’t know Yoga, I would not have the belief in myself to make moves in life that are necessary, but frightening. Yoga empowers me to follow my dreams, and at the same time gives me comfort in knowing that if failure is imminent, it is for a reason. Because I have learned to open myself up to whatever lies ahead for me, the right option is always more clear and persistent and for that I am always grateful.
What are the differences between Vinyasa yoga and Yoga therapy? Vinyasa Yoga can be a more energetic type of practice. During a Vinyasa practice you may flow, transition, between many different postures each couple breaths. More often than not, this requires more coordination, strength and flexibility. A Vinyasa class is ideal for someone who would like their Yoga practice to be a work out on top of exercising the philosophy of Yoga. A Yoga Therapy class is slower paced, meant for people who have never worked out, are injured or nursing an injury, or people who would like to refine their practice with more alignment and stability. We focus on healthy and strengthening mechanics of movement while describing in depth how to create this in the body while in a basic Yoga posture. Where a Vinyasa class would move through many different postures and repetitions of them, a Yoga Therapy class might only move through a handful of postures paying close attention to how they are done and facilitated with many props.
What do you think is the effect of yoga on overall health? Being able to have a practice that gives you space to come back to yourself, feel and honor your breath, move through postures sequenced to promote balance and relaxation has no other choice but to make the innate life force in you shine from the inside out. I also believe that whatever your reasons for coming to Yoga are, other pathways of self-realization naturally open up. With a consistent Yoga practice you’re honoring the life that you are, and because you are letting this energy flourish in you through Yoga, you will gravitate towards health and other health promoting learning experiences outside of your Yoga practice. Because of Yoga you begin to crave healthier options; whether in food, relationships, emotions or lifestyle choices, health becomes the only option.
What is the relationship you see between yoga and nutrition? I believe that Yoga and nutrition are two sides of the same coin. Yoga promotes consciousness and awareness in life, and food is not an exception. Nutrition is all about being conscious about what you put into your body, just as Yoga is cultivating awareness of all the life inside you. The cool thing is, once you get involved with either Yoga or Nutrition first, you will be guided to the other magnetically.
How important do you think it is to chose organic options for our food, clothing and household products? I think it is one of the most important things that you can do, not only for the health of you and your family, but to do your part as a citizen who cares about the future of our planet and humanity. It rests easy in my conscience knowing I may have paid a little extra, but I am doing my part to consciously promote health all around me. And besides that, my food tastes better, my house smells fresh and light and my clothes feel good to wear. The more that people buy organic, the sooner that will be the only option to consumers, making prices go down and more importantly our footprint will be lighter and our life will be healthier.
What sets Yoga Bound apart from other yoga studios? At Yoga Bound, we are very invested in teaching quality Yoga. Although people may come here for various reasons, they quickly learn that this place specializes in making Yoga accessible, inspiring, safe, conscious and evolutionary. All the teachers who teach here are deeply in love with Yoga and are eager to teach and share their passion. Every teacher brings something amazing and beautiful to class. We have no set flows, and we are one of the only studios that simply teaches Vinyasa Yoga. A broad term, where I tell the teachers to do what they do best and teach an inspired and creative class each time. One of the most special things about this studio is our Yoga Therapy classes. We are the only studio around that has a Yoga Therapy class everyday taught by a certified Yoga Therapist with clinical experience. Our goal is to make sure that Yoga is healing, safe and makes you feel really good.
What inspired you to begin teaching yoga and to open your own studio? I was inspired to teach Yoga because I was in love with it and wanted to keep learning more about it. After that, I became somewhat of a teacher training addict. I guess Yoga inspired me to always be the best version of myself and whatever I strive to be. After teaching for a while I started daydreaming about my own studio and creating a space of my own vision for people to enjoy Yoga. As those goals started percolating, my mom became very sick and almost died in the hospital. After she got better and healthy again, I realized life is too short to be daydreaming all the time. I wanted to make my dreams come true while we are all still healthy.
What is your most memorable experience since you began teaching yoga? As a Yoga Therapy intern, I was working with a man who had early onset Parkinson’s because of a massive head trauma injury from a car accident. Because he could not drive anywhere, his only independent means of getting places was walking. Whenever he walked a long time he would get a debilitating foot spasm. My teacher, Sherry Brourman and I worked together with him privately. Sherry taught him what to do when his foot spasm was coming on and we worked with him to correct his walk so he had the tools to manage and prevent future spasms. One day I was walking with him and without instructing him, he felt a spasm coming on and did what we taught him to do, and the spasm went away before it got debilitating. It was amazing to see a student empowered to use tools that he learned from Yoga to manage and prevent a painful and embarrassing situation. It was in that moment that we both learned how Yoga can empower us to be accountable and take responsibility for whatever life presents to us, and with breath, awareness and mindfulness we can turn any situation into something manageable.
What advice would you give to somebody who is totally new to yoga? Yoga is not about being bendy, flexible or strong. It is about the time you take out consistently to nourish and experience the space of yourself. There is no right time to start; Yoga will meet you wherever you are. In a delicious and evolutionary process that we call a practice, you create space for yourself to feel yourself move and breathe. Showing up is the hardest part, after that the practice will evolve at a pace that supports you. You are never too old, sick, fat or stiff to start. At first you might notice that everyone moves effortlessly while you are struggling. They, just like you, were not inherently good at Yoga. They started exactly like you did, as a beginner. They just kept showing up and slowly made more and more progress with consistency. All you have to do is show up, and keep showing up.