North County San Diego holds some of the best yoga teachers we’ve met. Ashton Szabo is one of them. His playful and knowledgeable approach to yoga makes inversions and arm balances accessible to yoga students of all levels. Not only is Ashton’s yoga practice rich and layered, so is his life off the mat. While Ashton was playing around our Del Mar yoga studio, we did a little Q&A with him to learn more about him – the yogi, adventurer and dad.
What do you tell people who are afraid to fly (arm balance/inversions)?
First, I’d say support yourself with soft surroundings. Practice on grass or at the beach, something soft, so that if you fall (which is inevitable), you have a comfortable landing. Second, I’d say stick with the foundational exercises first, before even attempting to get into arm balance/inversions. If you build more core and arm strength that will inevitably lead to more confidence when you approach the actual arm balancing postures.
How did you come to find yoga?
I was first exposed to yoga by my jujitsu sensei when I was 12 years old. We’d practice a few times a week - each practice about two and a half hours. The first hour would be yoga, the second would be jujitsu technique, and the last half hour would be free time. It became a foundation in my life ever since then.
What intrigues you most about Bakasana?
The subtle ways it can be refined and expanded upon. It’s usually the first arm balance people go for, and contained within it is a lot of the principle actions in the body that will translate to a whole slew of other more complicated and challenging arm balancing postures.
What is your most memorable travel/adventure story?
Wow, too many to even narrow it down, and it would probably be too long one for a paragraph or two. But I spent a few months travelling around the Himalayas by motorcycle with a good friend of mine, and everything about that experience changed my life. I’ve never been more challenged, more rapt in awe, and more appreciative of the beauty of the world than in those moments.
What are 3 words to describe your life or practice?
Passionate, wise, knowledgeable.
What’s something about you that very few people know?
I have a sweater that I got in Dharmasala in 2008 that, to this day, I have still never washed.
What is your morning ritual?
My morning ritual is a bit in disarray actually. It changes so often based upon who my daughter wants to get up with (my wife or me) and when she gets up. At some point in the morning, I will always take a few minutes to myself to reset and prepare for my day ahead. A few minutes of meditation, or movement practice that establishes a connection to presence before venturing out into the world. Sometimes that happens right after I get up (if my wife gets up with our daughter), and sometimes it happens before I go teach (after Kristi takes Sequoia to school).
Second favorite spot in Del Mar (Inhale is first, of course)
Probably a toss up between the Del Mar Fairgrounds and Dog beach!
Experience Ashton’s classes and you’ll leave enthusiastic and hungry for more learning moments on your mat.