One of the beauties of yoga is that we can bring it into all aspects of our lives. Here we catch up with the super talented Northern California interior designer, Amy Aswell. In this talking story, Amy shares how her living yoga practice assists in inspiring her designs and keeps her spirit alive and at peace. Thanks for the inspiration Amy!!!
Photo Credit: Kat Alves Photography
Tell us a bit about your yoga story….How does yoga benefit you as a busy professional?
I enrolled in my first yoga class when I was 20 while living in New Hampshire on a school exchange program. This was around the time (1999) in my life when I began hearing more about yoga and it piqued my curiosity. At the time, I was continually physically active while becoming increasingly interested in the mind-body connection.. While that experience was positive, I practiced only sporadically for the next few years, until I was in my second year of graduate school and feeling beaten down by the rigor and associated stress of my program. I enrolled in a series of yoga P.E. classes at the student fitness center and became addicted! It not only helped me feel calmer and more in control of the stress, but it relieved the chronic back pain brought on by hours of hunching over a computer and constructing design models. My favorite pose during this time was wheel because it felt great on my back and I remember I could hold the pose longer than anyone else in the class, including PAC-10 collegiate football players! I revisited yoga again a few years later during another period of professional and personal angst, this time falling in love with Yoga Nidra or ‘yogic sleep’. The guided meditation and supported, restful poses helped keep me centered and calm outside the studio. I attended classes 3-4 nights per week and felt the residual positive benefits every day. Now that I own a small business, I lean on yoga and meditation more than ever to conjure a sense of balance and strength in my busy life. I now practice Power Vinyasa 1-2 times per week and love the energetic and upbeat nature of my classes. I also have a teacher who cracks great jokes and plays the best music during class, which is great. I’ve found I really appreciate and am inspired by the combination of physical rigor and humor.
How do you bring yoga off your mat and into your designs and every day life?
Can you share a few tips on how to create “zen” spaces?
How can we all bring more sustainable design concepts to our homes and businesses?
Sustainability ideally should be implemented comprehensively, but there are also little things we can do to make a big impact on the earth and uplift our spirits. We’re currently experiencing a severe drought in California which is making everyone, either by choice or mandate, rethink their daily water habits and lifestyle. I’ll use the toilet as an example here…we can all make more sustainable choices by reducing our water use by replacing with a low-flow dual flush toilet (if you’re remodeling) or by placing a brick in your toilet tank (if you’re stuck with an existing, older toilet) or even using the ‘if it’s yellow…’ strategy. I feel encouraged just knowing that every time I have the power to make a design decision for my home or for a project, it can be informed by sustainability. For instance, I can hire the local furniture fabricator, who sources reclaimed wood for his products, which keeps these items out of landfills, retains money in the local community and reduces transportation reliance on fossil fuels for transport. There are so many pieces to the sustainability puzzle and often it’s a matter of just doing a little extra research and asking questions that can make a huge difference. Sometimes it’s easy to feel like our choices are small and insignificant in the grand scheme, but even just attempting to live more sustainably can bring about increased feelings of well-being, which is reason enough for me!