Alexandria Crow is a widely revered yoga instructor in Los Angeles. Alexandria offers up a mat-to-mat class of devotees, ever willing to pause in the deepest of poses for as long as she asks them to do so. Though clearly advanced in her own asana practice, Alexandria chooses to push the spotlight aside and not demonstrate the poses herself -- lest the students feel "less than." Instead, she verbally guides them through each pose with clear precision. For her, mastering the physical pose is never the 'goal'. Working within, true to your means, is the task. She recently spoke with _PRACTICE about her path from competitive gymnast to a yoga instructor and seasoned yogini.
What did I love most about competing?
That's what competition is about, isn't it? To win!
From age 7-14. I competed in gymnastics, then I became a diver from 14-16, and then I trained to walk onto the University of Arizona gymnastics team when I was 17. I was on the U of A's team for four years.
Bars and floor were always my favorite. I loved the entertainment, dance and performance aspect of floor while I loved bars for the strength and freedom I felt. I loved the discipline and what it taught me about my ability to push really hard into discomfort - without breaking.
Gymnastics really helped me to become disciplined and to commit to the practice of yoga itself.
Yoga asana was a natural fit. I actually hate traditional exercise in all forms. Running on a treadmill is hell to me.
So, after college, I gave up competing and I don't miss it.
But being a gymnast - and being able to attain the physical poses -- prevented me from understanding the more spiritual and mental aspects of yoga.
Gymnastics teaches you to be tough as nails, to compete with pain and injuries because it's about winning and looking perfect and capable. Being able to create, for the most part, any yoga asana with visual ease did not teach me how to pay attention, or to be kind to myself, during what turned out to be painful, injurious warning signals.
Asana didn't teach me to unwind those harmful patterns. I suffered injuries from asana. And then meditation helped me learn how to actually become a skilled yogi.
That said, I have been on a spiritual quest my entire life and yogic philosophy was something I was very intrigued by far before I knew the poses I was doing had anything to do with the texts I was reading.
I've always been a seeker of knowledge and wisdom and to understand myself and others better. I was hooked on yoga for those reasons. The poses were secondary.
BEING HERE NOW
Yoga keeps me present and grounded in the moment. It has taught me tremendous compassion for myself and for others. Without it, I would be a very different and unhappy person. Learning the wisdom of yoga has changed my world 180 degrees.
I meditate, I walk. I hike. I have a therapeutic asana practice that helps me deal with the injuries I have. I have a love for kinesiology and anatomy so I understand postures well. It's something I put effort into knowing more about every day and that study helps me be a better teacher and to keep my students safe and allow them to make tangible progress towards the poses they're interested in learning.
To be a better practitioner myself, I sit. That's how I connect to the present. That's how I learn about myself.
To learn more about Alexandria, visit her website at www.alexandriacrowyoga.com.
You can also follow her on Instagram @alexandriacrowyoga