Ashley McGee is yoga instructor, teaching public and private classes in the Hamptons. As an instructor, she values yoga as a science and union of the physical, mental, moral and spiritual well-being.
McGee’s classes integrate an Iyengar-based approach, vinyasa flow, meditation, unique music and spiritual philosophy.
“I’m inspired by achieving precise anatomical alignment and stimulating inquisitive, imaginative students. I also aspire to create space where there is no judgment and where people have the time and space to feel each pose with intentional movement,” she says.
Classes take place outdoors on a lawn in Montauk every Sunday. Each week she rotates a mix of local musicians and artists who play live background music and exhibit artwork. Live music has included Dalton Portella, James Ryan and Gian Carlo Feleppa. Artists have included Juliana Purcell Sheehan and Candace Ceslow.
“It is important to support local creators and small businesses to help keep our community thriving, particularly during these unique times,” she says.
We caught up with McGee to learn more.
Give us a little background about Ashley McGee Yoga and how it was started:
Before becoming a yoga teacher, I lived in New York City, acquiring 12+ years of experience spanning cultural institutions, global media companies, production studios, and the creative industry. I built most of my career at VICE as Global Account Director where I ran Intel’s Creators Project and Motherboard. I was Head of Business Development and Marketing at The FRONT, leading brand partnerships with companies such as National Geographic and Spotify. And, I served as Group Account Director at the Milk group.
A significant part of my journey becoming a yoga teacher has stemmed from my intimacy with fear and my desire to move closer to my inner truth. Since University, I found myself fighting personal fears and obstacles – fighting for respect as a young woman, fighting to “make it” in NYC, fighting to be “successful,” fighting to prove myself professionally, fighting to make a six-figure salary by the time I was 30, fighting to climb the corporate ladder, fighting for credentials and fighting to make a name for myself in my industry. While essentially achieving these conventional ideals, I was in an unhealthy vortex within the NYC hustle. I knew I was not the best version of myself. Yet, I was fearful of what would happen should I break away from these conventional goals.
After many years in the NYC hustle, I began re-evaluating what was actually important to me in my life and what is the true meaning of “success.” It was time for a lifestyle change and for me to create space for new beginnings, so I handed in my resignation.
I had been practicing yoga at a variety of studios on and off for about a decade. I felt a strong calling to become a yoga teacher where I could aim to be a light unto myself and to others. My teacher training has been through premier studio, Yoga Shanti where I began studying with world-renowned teachers, Colleen Saidman Yee and Rodney Yee.
Tell us about your outdoor classes and what visitors can expect:
My background is largely rooted in creating artful, unexpected experiences where there is a shift from when the participant enters and exits. As part of my outdoor yoga classes, I’m creating multi-sensorial, cultural experiences that support local artists and musicians.
Open-Level Flow classes are held outside in Montauk every Sunday on a beautiful, magical lawn with live music and art exhibitions. COVID precautions are implemented to ensure everyone’s comfort and safety: social distancing, BYO mat, props and mask, wearing a mask is required unless practicing yoga during class, and hand sanitizer is offered at entry/exit.
How has the business had to shift due to COVID-19?
There has been light in the darkness. I’ve been teaching private sessions and public classes outside in Montauk as well as at people’s homes. It has been a blessing being able to teach yoga outside on our lawn with the bountiful garden we’ve created and live off of. The wind speaks in a mystical way on our lawn. The sunlight sparkles a special way under the canopy of our wise trees.
I’m also teaching public classes online and offering private yoga sessions online. It has been fun teaching Zoom classes where friends from all around join and we get laughs in while practicing yoga.
It is important that we don’t let obstacles keep us from continuing our yoga practice.