How Ashley Bartlett Found What She Didn't Know She Was Looking For

Let’s start with a little introduction, who you are on and off the mat, and any little personal info you’d like us to know right off the bat:
My name is Ashley Bartlett-Patosik. Most people just call me Ashley Bartlett since it is easier. I stay at home with my daughter who is 3, which pretty much occupies all my time when I am not here at the studio. I’m usually just trying to keep her wrangled and be her personal assistant, which is the worst job and the best job.

Definitely, 3 is a very active age, full of new developments- like the 3-teens, where they suddenly learn they have attitude and can eye roll!
Oh yeah, she eye rolls really hard, it must be genetic. {laughs}

Does she practice yoga with you? Do you have a shared practice at home?
She does do some moves with me. She has randomly started doing all these yoga moves; the other day she went into tree pose and asked ‘do you do this in yoga?’ and I was a little surprised and impressed, and said ‘yes, how did you know that?’ Then she goes into downward dog and asked ‘what about this, do you do this in yoga?’ and I said yes, then she stood tall like mountain pose and asked if we do that, and I was like, ‘wow, yes, how do you know all of this?’ So yes, she likes yoga and is very interested in it and likes me to teach her and to practice with me, she gets her little mat out and unrolls it on the floor by mine.

That sounds adorable!
Yeah, its really cute and a fun thing to bond over.

Awesome! How long have you been practicing?
I’ve practiced on and off for years, but seriously started practicing last year. A friend brought me here, I started taking a few classes, but still had a gym membership, unfortunately. But I did end up cancelling it. Pretty much the last half of 2017, I stopped going to the gym and pretty much dedicated my time to coming here at least three times a week, but really any time I could fit it in I would come. It was really nice when Estel {my daughter} started school in the fall, which freed up some time. I had three mornings a week that were mine. With that time I really tried to start coming here, which became a routine and I am SO happy. 

What factors tipped the scales in favor of yoga rather than the gym?
I just liked how I felt after better. I also felt that my body changed and responded better to my yoga practice as opposed to weight training, and trying to work out on my own, which I did like doing, just not as much as I enjoyed my classes. A big factor is also all the instructors here at Reyn: every class is a little different, every instructor I have really enjoyed. They feel connected to what they’re doing. I basically became addicted. Once you start coming and you see those little gains, like ‘wow I can twist a little bit further here’ or ‘wow I can do this now’ and it becomes a little bit more addicted. You feel yourself wanted to go to class, you think ‘I want to try going deeper’ or ‘I want to get my forearm stand’ or ‘ I want to go upside down’ you want to try new things, and those little steps and progress made it that much more rewarding and addicting to me.

That really speaks to the practice as a greater entity, in that it definitely challenges and changes not only our bodies but our minds. Our brains get hooked on the practice and the sense of community we build with our teachers and others who have a similar routine. Sharing our practice with others is part of what keeps our practice fun.
Those factors have really become important to me. I struggle with anxiety and I find that coming to yoga has helped with that significantly. I do not have to take any medicine or anything like that now. I just try to exercise and bring little things from my practice to my life when I can, meditate when I can, but I have found that once I got into a regular practice here there was a marked decrease in my anxiety which was huge.

Thank you for sharing that. Do you find the effects of your practice lingering off the mat and trickling into your daily routine? Is that something that has helped with your anxiety? 

What are some other ways yoga has impacted your life off the mat? If any?
One big way is that it inspired me to do the teacher training! I feel like it has helped me and in turn I want to learn more intensely the practice and then help others if I can in any way. I already talk about it a lot, I try to get others to come with me. I got one friend to come with me a few times and now she has a membership and comes regularly. I got my husband to come with me the other day, I just think its great. Like you said, I like that sense of community. You come in and everyone is very happy and welcoming, the studio space is gorgeous. Off the mat I am definitely more centered and grounded, which certainly helps with having a 3 year old.

I feel ya, the patience we cultivate is so useful when dealing with kids.
Getting that time here to myself, where its just me and my mind and my body, after not having that for almost 3 years is life changing.


You are touching on something near and dear to my heart as a doula and pre/post natal yoga teacher: that sense of ownership over your body, and having to rediscover that, is a huge transformation. The sense of self after you’ve had a kid, while you’re raising a kid, can be really challenging. Do you feel comfortable sharing a little bit about your postpartum journey and how yoga contributed to your sense of self now after sharing your body with another person so intensely?
Postpartum I have been fortunate enough to stay home with my daughter, but it is her and I all the time. My husband travels a lot for work, so it is her and I. At first, once I could, I started walking with her, pushing the stroller, we got a jogging stroller so we could go on runs and things to get moving, but it wasn’t really my time so much as it was our time. It was exercise, but it wasn’t really body changing. It was enough to make you feel good after, but it wasn’t quite what I was looking for. It was hard because I didn’t really know what I was looking for until I came here, and found yoga here, really. That was when the mind body changes started to happen.

That is a really cool journey, thanks for sharing. What was the catalyst that inspired you to take the teacher training from there?
It was right around Christmas and I had seen the emails and instagram post, and felt unsure. I talked it over with my husband. I told him it would be nice because if I did become a yoga teacher, with Estel being in school schedule wise it would really work for us as a family. And also finding a way to get some financial independence would be really nice since I haven’t had that in a while either. And I want to do it for me; it’s like going back to school really. I want to prove to myself that I can do it and go on from there, see where it takes me.

Very cool, yoga seems to have helped you really find a sense of self. Teacher training really is a huge undertaking a big personal journey, I feel like you are embarking on it with a good head space, you’re open to it, without placing too many specific expectations on it. That seems like a very mindful place to begin.
I am very nervous. I have a lot of negative self talk happening right now, partly because I do come here and the teachers are so good that I get intimidated, but then I’m like they had to start somewhere too.

Years and years of practice go into that though.
Yeah, and I am just starting so its getting over the nerves and the sense of ‘what are you doing?’, ‘you can’t do this’ and reminding myself that I can do this.

I believe that you can do it! Even just trying to engage with these teachings and connect deeper with the practice is big… I wouldn’t say that as an ego boost as the ego can really be humbled during your training, but it definitely has the potential to build genuine confidence that comes from a more complete sense of self which is really cool and you’ll find that just like everyone here, no matter the level of experience, that we have days where it seems crazy that people think you’re good and that you have an impact on their life and you still question your authority in that department, its human.
True, I do think that after conquering pregnancy and childbirth I have a sense of confidence in maybe a weird way, but I think, ‘you did that, pretty much the craziest thing you can do with your body, so you can make it through yoga teacher training.’

There really is nothing like child bearing, the exploration that goes with pregnancy and birth. For instance, you may feel like you know yourself and the inner workings of you body as much as anyone can, then suddenly everyday your body is different, and the power that comes with harboring, nurturing and growing a whole no other person within you  is so transformative. It is one of the biggest yogic journeys you can take.
Yes, and I am one and done, so this is a nice segway to the next stage in my life. Having a little girl, and maybe becoming a yoga teacher hopefully, someday, feels exciting.

Awesome! What did you do before you became a mother?
I worked in retail. I was the stylist at J. Crew for three years after moving here from upstate New York where I am from. I moved here about six and a half years ago, so before that I ran an art gallery. I have an Art History background. I have always done something related to visual art. I taught art classes in private studios, I worked at an art center and ran the gallery, then I came here and I taught an after school art program while working retail.

Do you think that you eye for aesthetics and a deeper understanding of something, rather than just noting the top superficial level, has influenced your practice?
I think so. There is definitely an art to it, especially with symmetry and finding symmetry in the body. I feel like I am very tuned into that in a way; I feel like  when I first started and I would lay in savasana at the end of class I could feel in my body that one side was way heavier than the other. Then after about 3 or 4 months I could finally lay there and not worry if I was settled evenly; I was. Little things like that, and the micro improvements really appeal to the art side of me if that makes sense.

It does, and is really beautiful. You are able to see the layers and the different components of the practice.
And the movements themselves are beautiful and like a dance.

Is there anything in particular you are showing us from your practice today? We always want to give you the chance to show your progress or inspiration, or something that makes you feel strong and powerful or has been transformative in some way.
I have been thinking about this and haven’t been able to decide on one thing in particular.

Do you have a favorite pose or series in your practice that feels like your home base?
No, not really.

Do you have a least favorite?
Yeah, I would say, I don’t love bird of paradise, but I am working on it and trying to learn to love it. Camel is also really hard, I don’t love camel.

Is the drawback in those shapes more physical or the mental components?
I think both.

Those are both deeply openers of very vulnerable places, your hips in bird of paradise and your heart in camel. It can be challenging to bust those wide open.
It is, I have hip issues too. I played soccer pretty much my whole life so hip focused poses are really challenging for me. It has improved with time but they are hard.


It is wonderful that you are open to finding more comfort there, to challenging yourself to be more open and content in discomfort. Is there anything else you would like to share with people about yoga and what you learn in your practice?
What I tell people is that everyone has some preconceived notion about what yoga is I think, that maybe you have to look a certain way or be a certain way to do it, but that is totally not true. I was not in the best shape when I started, and I could feel my body, and parts of my body felt gross in certain positions. I would get discouraged, but I kept trying for a week, and I tell them to do the same. At the end of that week you’ll want another week and another, it builds if you allow yourself to really try it from a fresh perspective. As you grow you’ll find that you enjoy it, you’ll find things that you really love about it and find out where the hard parts are. Like I touched on in the beginning, you’ll find these little gains, whether they are really tiny gains in length or a big twist or just the way you feel when you leave some days, then all of sudden it becomes a part of your life that you cannot live without. I think people should just try it, really commit to trying it and see where it goes.

What a great insight. It also really touches on something we in the yoga community struggle with, in that people do have strong preconceived notions about what yoga is or isn’t, they don’t realize that yoga is for everybody and every body. As soon as you find the sweet spots and your place on the mat it all is available to you--all the lessons of the practice, the breath, the space, it's all there waiting for you.
Definitely I think there is space for everyone to try it and love it.

Interview by Melanie Schatz