Alexandria Crow on Listening To Your Body During Yoga

Alexandria Crow learned the hard way about yoga injuries. Now, she focuses on therapeutic yoga to heal and transform her body.
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Alexandria Crow learned the hard way about yoga injuries. Now, she focuses on therapeutic yoga to heal and transform her body.
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Meet Alexandria Crow, this month’s Yogapedia teacher and cover model. I got to spend some time with Alex at her cover shoot and was so refreshed by her insightful, tell-it-like-it-is nature. I think you will be, too! Get to know her a little here, then take a class with her in person at Yoga Journal LIVE! in New York City, April 8–11.

Carin Gorrell: Why did you fall in love with yoga?
Alexandria Crow: I was a gymnast, so the physicality of yoga appealed to me. But what made me fall in love with yoga was the mental component and learning how to watch my mind and behavior, and to not be so reactive to them.

CG: Your practice is now primarily therapeutic. Why, and how is yoga helping you heal?
AC: I herniated three disks in my back and created a massive SI [sacroiliac joint] destabilization. The injuries already existed from gymnastics, but I furthered them doing Ashtanga. So I found a seated meditation practice and dove into Buddhism. It was then that I realized how much you could touch with very gentle poses and internal exploration. Even further, I realized how so much of my pain is associated with all the other things going on in my life that I need to deal with in a better way.

See also Alexandria Crow’s Meditation for Anxiety

CG: Recently, I’ve noticed a number of your social-media posts calling out the misleading nature of photos of you in advanced poses. Why is it important to talk about what really goes into capturing those images?
AC: Photo shoots are fun and creative, but is picture-taking a yoga practice? No, it’s just not. I’m not being mindful; I’m considering what the camera is going to think—what’s going to look good? And when I got hurt, I saw that what I was teaching didn’t align with who I was anymore, and that it would be very inauthentic to continue to take pictures of myself doing things that I know can [foster] some pretty gnarly repetitive-stress injuries for students. So I had to throw all of that out and be willing to stand up and say, “Yeah, you’ve seen me doing all that, but I don’t do that anymore, and here’s why.” And I had to be humble enough to say, “I’m sorry,” to students who I’d taught some of that stuff to; I’m sorry if you got hurt.

CG: Do you have a mantra or words of wisdom that you live by?
AC: Not really—I have to be honest! I guess it would be: “Pay attention, pay really close attention, and then do what’s needed, not what’s wanted or repetitive.”

See alsoPatanjali Never Said Anything About Yoga Selfies