April 8, 2014

Riding the Vinyasa Wave. ~ Ashley Avis {Inspiring Video}

upward salute yoga

”To perform every action artfully is yoga.” ~ Swami Kripalu

Two friends Ashley Avis, a film maker, and Callan Polmer, a yogi, came together to create an inspiring video set to beautiful music in Malibu, stirring the desire for creative expression and movement in all of us. Here they reflect on their relationship, the process of creating such peaceful art and, of course, their yoga journey.

1) Yogi and a filmmaker—how did you two meet?

Callan: Ash and I are best friends from way back. We lived together in New York, before she moved to LA a few years ago. I kept making trips out to the west coast, fell in love with it, and took the plunge last year. We’ve known each since before she started making films and I started teaching yoga, and thought this would be a great way to combine our passions.

Ashley: The way I remember it, we became fast friends when I blew up frozen kiwis in our microwave when we were sharing a one bedroom on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I’ve always admired Callan, not just as my best friend—but as an artist. She’s one of the wisest women I know.

2) What was the transition like from NY to LA?

Ashley: A huge, beautiful shift. I never thought I’d leave New York, ever. I was bicoastal for a little while, but once I found the Venice Beach area—I felt like I found my neighborhood, my home. It’s been five years, now.

Callan: Amazing. I love California living. There’s great food, culture, and history here. My East Coast friends will argue otherwise, but it’s really true!

3) What kind of yoga do you do?

Callan: I practice a Laughing Lotus-style vinyasa, from the school where I studied in New York. The owner Dana Flynn studied Tai Chi for many years, so there are a lot of quick balance changes. The greatest emphasis is on figuring out what the asanas will look and feel like in your own body, and on personal expression.

Ashley: I enjoy Vinyasa style yoga —I’m definitely new(er) to practicing, and started doing yoga about a year and a half ago. In my daily life, I am constantly thinking about work—I have a hard time shutting off, ever—doing yoga is one of the few things that fully calms down my mind.

4) Question for Callan—what would you like to see more of in the Los Angeles area, for yoga?

Callan: In LA, I feel like there’s a great dividing line between gym-style “hot body” yoga where you get to listen to fun music and really move, versus yoga studios that follow the sutras, chant, and use the Sanskrit terms. I would like to see classes that combine all of the above. It’s possible! It’s what my personal practice is like.

5) What do you do to relax/find oneness?

Callan: In LA we’re spoiled with so much natural beauty and great weather. A good hike will clear my mind, or a visit to Yoga Ananda for their meditation services. Truthfully, some of my most grounding experiences have been having dinner at your place Ashley! Ash is a great cook. LA is so spread out, so time with friends becomes especially precious and rewarding.

Ashley: Aww, thanks! It’s funny—cooking tends to clear my mind, or cleaning—listening to classical music. I also paint. Painting (which I also do to classical music, or James Brown – I’m not sure why that’s the combination that works, but it is) – switches off my mind and puts me in a meditative state, similar to doing yoga.

6) Question for Ashley—what inspired the video?

Ashley: Callan did. I’ve wanted to experiment with doing a yoga video for some time, now. Most of the commercials I shoot are soft, gentle, slow motion. The combination seemed lovely. We had a few hours in between shooting a charity fashion film I was directing in Malibu, Callan drove up the coast and we shot for about an hour.

7) What was the experience like, shooting a yoga video in Malibu?

Callan: It was a dream. It was like a total Californian cliché, but it felt so good (laughs)! We went to a spot called El Matador and just tried different things. It’s this incredible place with these massive rock formations where the ocean meets the sand. It was almost impossible to not film an absolutely beautiful demonstration that day.

Ashley: I love El Matador beach. I’ve shot a few projects there, now and there are these huge rocks that I wanted Callan to stand on . She climbed up one of them and did this beautiful crow pose—it was a blast.

8) Where are you both “practicing” now?

Ashley: I practiced at Equinox in Marina del Rey for some time (Jennifer Pastiloff is incredible, and teaches there) and have recently begun experimenting doing yoga at home because I’m so busy. I subscribed to Daily Burn. We’ll see how it goes!

Callan: I practice at Goda Yoga in Culver City. It’s a really sweet little studio, with a great community vibe.


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Apprentice Editor: Jessica Sandhu/ Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Mike Baird / Flickr

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