We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Thomas and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ashley, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
As a special education teacher and a yoga instructor, work-life balance is something I think about often. Before I started my yoga certification program, I had been working full time as a school teacher for about 8 years. I had a yoga practice during that time but it would always fall down the priority list when work became stressful. When I did come back to my mat, I was always reminded of how much it calmed my mind, soothed my body, and actually helped me to perform better at work. This recurring realization is what led me to sign up for yoga teacher training and move from full-time to part-time as a school teacher. Although yoga is a job for me, it is also how I unwind and re-energize. Every time I sit down on my mat, close my eyes, and start breathing, I reset. My mind and my body are no longer moving on autopilot. Bringing awareness to my body and my breath is how I check in with myself and evolve as a yogi, as a teacher, and as a human being. The awareness this has brought overtime has helped me to understand that obtaining an ideal work-life balance isn’t my goal. Instead, I want to live a life that I’m passionate about and my work should enhance my experience, not take away from it. When I decided to put my yoga practice at the top of my priority list, I was actually putting myself at the top of that list. This allowed me to be more authentic at work and to develop deeper relationships with the people I spend my days with. If I find myself searching for that balance again, I know it will be time to consider a new career.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My main job in both of my careers is to guide my students to find strength and confidence in themselves. I remind them every day that they are capable of achieving their goals and that setbacks are lessons to observe and learn from. I love being able to push my students to go places that they didn’t think were possible. The look on their faces when they do reach a goal is what makes me proud. I love to challenge my students, but my main priority is to make sure they’re having fun. Over the years I have learned to be true to myself while working with others. I like to joke around, be silly, and laugh as much as possible. When you show up authentically, others can do the same and this builds a foundation of trust upon which real progress can be built!

Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
I live downtown, so I might be biased, but it’s the most exciting place to visit in LA. Starting in the Arts District, my favorite places to eat are Zinc Cafe & Market and Bar Mateo, Wurstküche, and Pizzanista. My favorite places to hangout at are Two Bit Circus, EightyTwo, and The Arts District Brewing Co, which all have fun games to play while you drink/eat. The Flower District is also a must do when you’re downtown. I love to get food at Poppy + Rose before shopping at all the flower marts. Close by you can also find Dama, a latin-inspired restaurant and bar with the most delicious food and the cutest tropical decor. The thing I love the most about Downtown are all the rooftop bars. The Broken Shaker at Freehand LA, The Nomad, Perch, The Standard, and Upstairs at Ace hotel each have a unique vibe and a killer view!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have to give a shoutout to my best friend Carleigh Blonigan. She owns her own pilates business in Santa Monica called, Pilates by Carleigh, and I truly would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for her. She is passionate about helping others and is constantly learning new ways to improve her approach in her sessions. She inspires me every day!

Website: badashyogi.com
Instagram: @badashyogi

Image Credits
Photographer: Neal Post Photography assistant: Chloe Post