Pierce College yoga instructor Ashley Looker is described by those who know her as a sheer force of positive energy.
Looker is one of those people that others just want to be around. She’s warm, bubbly and tends to pull optimism out of her students.
Looker makes her intentions and message clear: She wants women to be the best version of themselves and she is on a mission to help them enable their self-empowerment.
Self-described as a little woo-woo because she uses crystals as part of her own healing process, Looker has been practicing yoga and meditation and studying women empowerment issues for years.
She believes positive mental health is the key to becoming the best version of oneself. Even though it can be difficult to confront inner challenges and overcome them, Looker believes that all women can do so.
Looker teaches yoga classes at Pierce College Puyallup and uses the time with her students to cover topics like self-trust, happiness and strategies for calming anxiety.
She also works as a life coach, offering a variety of packages for those who want or need a little extra help living their best life.
Packages range from 12-week, one-on-one guided empowerment sessions, to a year-long desire map course to help clients reveal and achieve happiness, to a six-week program designed to establish healthy relationships with food.
I recently had the opportunity to attend one of Looker’s yoga classes and sat down with her afterward to learn more about what makes her who she is.
Looker started the class by discussing the notion of self-trust and asking students what that means to them. She talked about students being kind to themselves.
Once the yoga practice started, it became obvious students in the class were practicing at different skill levels, but no one seemed to mind. With modifications offered by Looker for each posture, the poses were accessible for everyone.
For Looker and her students, yoga is about more than just the postures: it’s about a deeper connection with the inner self.
Looker estimates 90 percent of her students want to reduce their stress and anxiety levels, so that’s what she focuses on in her classes. She wants the same for all of her students: to practice compassion for their inner selves and to take better care of themselves, physically and emotionally.
She is no stranger to the stress and anxiety some students feel every day. Many of Looker’s students come to her class specifically seeking relaxation and stress reduction.
“Stress is such a normalized part of our culture nowadays . I think that yoga has a really amazing ability to bring that anxiety back down,” says Looker.
Looker says that yoga, and the meditation that accompanies it, tend to help her release emotions she holds on to. She shared her top tips for reducing stress and improving mental health.
Number one: Don’t underestimate the power of the breath. Just taking a few mindful belly breaths can aid in relaxing the brain. Looker reminds students that their breath is always with them, so this tip can be used anywhere and anytime.
Her second tip is to identify the things in life that bring happiness and then consciously make time to do them. She acknowledges that can be difficult, especially with a student’s busy schedule, but insists it’s beneficial for strong mental health.
“Finding time for the things that really light us up from the inside out – there’s nothing better,” she says.
Looker says she sometimes struggles with how much time she spends on social media, like other students on campus may experience. She says she tries to remain mindful of how much energy she devotes to it, as it zaps her energy and doesn’t serve her.
At the end of the day, Looker feels that if she can leave her students feeling powerful in their lives, she’s done her job.
Looker’s yoga classes are offered fall, winter and spring quarters at the Pierce College Puyallup campus. Online personal wellness packages can be found at her website uniqueholistichappiness.com.
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