It’s not everyday that I meet someone that I need to go write a blog about…but when I do, I feel the need to share this person with everyone! I met Allie at Baron Baptiste Level 2 teacher training in Sedona, AZ this past June and felt drawn to her. Allie is the kind of person that just leads people…I don’t know what it is but the more I got to know her, the more I learned about her story and her journey to where she is today. Since our training, I feel like she is all over the place between teaching for Wanderlust events, master classes, upgrading her studio to meet her growing class-sizes, and even prepping to lead her own teacher training herself! Anyway, here is a lovely interview to learn more about her…she is a fantastic inspiration for anyone who believes in following your dreams by doing what you love…and being ASTONISHED.
So first tell me a little about yourself and how you got into yoga?
My name is Allie Conover… and I’m a power yoga junkie! I own a studio in Southern New Jersey called Grace & Glory Yoga. All of our classes are taught in the Baptiste Journey Into Power methodology.
Like most yogis, my journey to having yoga take a major hold on my life was an interesting one. I started practicing hatha yoga in high school on the recommendation of a friend after a rowing injury. I then found vinyasa yoga in college to heal a long suffered eating disorder… and then I found Baptiste Power Yoga and my life really changed.
What were you like before yoga, and how has yoga changed your life?
I describe pre-yoga Allie as floating in space. Yoga has given me the tools to take a stand for who it is I really am and what it is I believe in. It has changed my life because it has connected me to my once majorly disconnected body, it has taught me how to authentically connect and listen to others… it’s changed every relationship in my life, including the most important: the one I have with myself and the one I have with God.
You have a studio in New Jersey! What made you decide to open your own?
I lived down south for a long time after college. I practiced at a Baptiste Affiliate in Jacksonville, FL called MBody Yoga. That was the first model of what real community was for me. Through relocating for work and then ultimately moving back home to South Jersey, I felt called to recreate that same sense of powerful community. I opened a little place that could barely fit 18 mats on a hope and a prayer. Three months later, I had to move next door just to accommodate everyone… and now, one year later, we are moving again! This time with space for 50 mats per class. To be honest I didn’t think people would really “get it” in this small suburban shore town.. but boy, do they! We have created our very own amazing, powerful community. It’s growing by the day.
What do you see in the future for your studio?
Right now, we are building a brand new studio about a mile from our current one. We’ll be moving into our new home in just a couple of weeks! We also are opening Grace & Glory Yoga Philadelphia in early 2014. Which will be huge event space in the Northern Liberties neighborhood. Having a studio at the beach and one in the city is a great representation of the vastness of our community! I am also gearing up to launch my first every GGY 200-hour Teacher Training program in November. This is what I am most excited about! I feel really called to teach teachers how to be the greatest version of themselves, so they can in turn, be the light for others. It’s what keeps our community in motion.
What training have you taken and what do you recommend for someone who wants to teach someday?
The learning never ends! Nine years ago I took a Vinyasa teacher training, but at the time wasn’t super inspired to teach… until I found Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga in 2008. I took my 200-hour teacher training with Mark White, a senior Baptiste Teacher, of MBody Yoga in Jacksonville, FL. I have also completed Mark’s Advanced Teacher Training Program as well. I am currently moving forward with completing the Baptiste Certification process. I did Baron Baptiste’s training (with you!) this past summer in Sedona, AZ. I completed Art of Assisting training at Sid Yoga Center with senior Baptiste teachers Paige Elenson and Kirsten Mooney. I’ll be doing my Level 2 training in Austin, TX at the end of October. I know it won’t end there.. I make myself do one major training once a year. It keeps me teaching with a fresh set of eyes.
My biggest piece of advice for someone that wants to be a teacher is never stop being a student. Always approach trainings, workshops, and classes like it’s your very first time. Be curious, stay open, and be playful! Your body has so much to teach you and so do your potential students!
I am an experiential learner. I learn by getting my hands dirty, getting really messy, and making mistakes. I think we all do. New teachers, please give yourself permission to muck up your classes! Laugh at yourself and stand in your greatness. Your students learn from your way of being so much greater than the words coming out of your mouth. You are a model for what’s possible for them. Don’t lose sight of that.
What kind of food do you eat? I know many yogis go vegetarian or vegan…is that the case with you?
I was a very strict vegan for seven years. And then one day I wanted to eat fish, so I did. I don’t believe in restrictive diets (anymore). For me, restrictive diets cause a lot of anxiety and guilt. I do believe in mindful eating though. Yoga has us connect to our body. It’s the very tool that changed my relationship with food and helped me take back the power it once had over me. It used to run and ruin so much of my energy. Now I eat when I’m hungry and only when I’m hungry. Mostly plants. But knowing the occasional gelato isn’t going to take me out, gives me a lot more freedom. Haha! I love avocado, make a mean hummus, and could eat brussel sprouts every night for the rest of my life if my boyfriend would let me! It’s all about making compassionate and mindful choices. I have a lot of awareness now about how certain foods make my body feel, so I eat for how I want to feel after my meal is complete.
When I met you on the first couple days of training, Baron Baptiste had a fun conversation on meditation and labeled you the “meditation guru” haha, can you explain what happens for you in meditation, and how it helps your life?
Oh geez! Baron loves to tease people. I think I’m stuck with that nickname for life. Meditation is something I didn’t “get” until recently. I facilitate a 40 Days to a Personal Revolution Program at my studio, based off the book that Baron wrote. This emphasizes the needs for a daily meditation practice. Before that, meditation seemed really new age-y and weird. It wasn’t until maybe the third time doing through the program that I realized that meditation is what gives me space in my life. It’s a game changer. Meditation for me gives me an allotted time to be still. To observe thoughts and release them. Baron refers to meditation as “being a clearing”, and I think that’s a perfect way to put it. When we get right with our thoughts, connect with our body, and to something bigger than us (God/ the universe), we are all so much less reactive and more present. I like to think of it as squeezing as much juice out of the moment that I possibly can.
Do you have any favorite quotes that you think everyone should know?
My all time favorite “yoga-ish” quote is an African Proverb, “When you pray, move your feet.” I adore this phrase for two reasons:
- A. To me, my practice is my prayer. It’s what I’m offering up to the Universe. It’s my opportunity to reconnect to what makes me, me.
- And B. It means to putting your faith in action. So many of us want to sit by and hope that life will happen for us. It’s our responsibility to do the work. Get moving.
I have seen you all over the Wanderlust Websites, and practically everywhere else! Tell us a little about your experience with Wanderlust!
If I had to describe my Wanderlust teaching experience it would be: wow. I have certainly never taught a class to well over one thousand people before. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been asked by the Wanderlust Festival team to lead a class at the Yoga Block Party in Philadelphia. I co-taught a class with my dear friend and business partner, Nicole Cucinotta. (She is a Certified Baptiste teacher.) We also taught with Maura Manzo and Brittany Policastro, who work closely with Sean Corne and the Off The Mat project. The collaboration of the four of us was incredible. Here are four yoga teachers from Philly & South Jersey, with different styles, coming together for one reason: community. It was the most vivid imagery of why we do what we do: to stand in our own greatness and inspire others to do the same. I am thankful to lululemon athletica and Wanderlust for making that a reality. It’s something I am looking forward to being a part of in the years to come.
Do you have any upcoming events in the near future?
This past weekend I headlined a fitness festival called Sweat AC in Atlantic City with Jillian Michaels and Shaun T. I literally was teaching yoga on top of a casino. It felt like an oxymoron. Haha. But I felt fortunate that in the seemingly un-yoga like place, I was able to bring the message of yoga. It was such a cool experience. That was my last major event of the year. I am switching gears to focus on my teacher-training program and the new studios. I also own another yoga business called YOGAROCKSLIVE. Nicole (Cucinotta) & I travel around the country teaching power yoga at music festivals and hosting mini- yoga and live music festivals of our own. We will be touring with YRL next year. Chicago, New Orleans, Encinitas, and a few other cities are on our list of tour stops. We’ll also be doing a lot of charitable events without the Grace & Glory Yoga Project that will be launching at the end of this year.
What do you see yourself doing in the next five years?
I can only imagine… this past year has been bigger than I could have ever dreamed of. I want to just to continue on this amazing path and be open to what God has in store for me. I want to continue to teach, lead trainings and make awesome yoga teachers, take trainings and make myself an awesome yoga teacher, and be of service to my community. And if I could have a couple cute babies and gracefully make my way into my thirties, that’d be pretty sweet.
What do you feel is most important to living a happy life?
Authenticity and the courage to live authentically in every moment. Earth to people: we only have one life. You will be the only you that has ever existed. Feel your feelings, speak up, if it doesn’t feel right change it. Have the courage to give up any habit or situation that doesn’t serve you and as Rumi so eloquently put it, “Seek those who fan your flames.”
For more information about anything you have read, or about Allie herself, here is her information:
Allie Conover: firstname.lastname@example.org
Grace & Glory Website: http://www.graceandgloryyoga.com
Grace & Glory Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/GraceGloryYoga
Grace & Glory Twitter: http://twitter.com/GraceandGloryYo