fbpx Skip to content

Ally Mazerolle on Girlvana Yoga and the Power of Community

ally mazerolle
This week on the podcast, we interviewed yoga teacher, writer, and entrepreneur, Ally Mazerolle, founder of Girlvana Yoga and Ladyvana Retreats. Ally started teaching yoga over a decade ago and founded Girlvana to bring yoga and mindfulness practice to teens. 

“Today, we’re working with Gen Z, and it’s this new, emerging generation that’s so cool and also terrifying. This generation sees the world in a way we never did because of social media. Gen Z has such a pulse on all things political because of social media and the internet; it’s more native for them to be online.” – Ally Mazerolle. 

Girlvana, like so many other studios and community-focused businesses, shifted classes and training online to continue connecting young women from all over the world as we continue to social distance. 

“My superpower is a vulnerability in my ability to share how I feel. My former business partner used to call me very emotionally agile. I think this aspect of who I am helps create a safe and conscious space for teens to share how they feel and who they are. This is what community means to me, the ability to come together and learn from our experiences.” – Ally Mazerolle.

Read the highlights from this week’s episode; watch or listen to the full discussion with Clara and Ally. 

 

Introducing Ally Maz and Girlvana Yoga

 

AMI’m so excited to have this conversation with you, particularly Clara because the idea for Girlvana was brewing inside me, but it wasn’t fully realized until I did one of your Morning Yoga Intensives. Girlvana was created in 2010, so almost a decade ago. The intention was for young women to feel seen and heard, and connected through the avenues of yoga, meditation, and real conversation.

I wanted to create a space for mindfulness for teens, and it also pertains to gender and sexuality and identity and consent and periods and all of the things that young people have to deal with as they come of age. 

Girlvana started with me teaching yoga in high schools; I was just knocking on the doors of principals and school counselors and anyone I could think of. At this time, I was already leading yoga retreats, and I thought, how cool would it be for this retreat to be all teenage girls and have sort of like a summer camp meets yoga retreat experience? 

We’ve trained over a hundred teachers globally to teach Girlvana Yoga to teens; you can find Girlvana in Scotland, Switzerland, Canada, and the US. Girlvana is also a book that will be published by Penguin Random House next year.

Today, we’re working with Gen Z, and it’s this new, emerging generation that’s so cool and terrifying. This generation sees the world in a way we never did because of social media. Gen Z has such a pulse on all things political because of social media and the internet; it’s more native for them to be online. 

Girlvana just wrapped a very ambitious digital summit for teens. We’ve created online offerings through Zoom to stay connected while we social distance. We had yoga, meditation, and keynote speakers. The girls had breakout sessions and were able to speak and be involved in conversations around allyship, mental health, yoga, and breathwork practices. I underestimated how profound digital offerings can be and how deep and vulnerable young people are willing to go. 

What’s a belief that’s holding you back? 

AM—I just started a new job, and I feel like my imposter syndrome is coming up a lot. Even though I’m 34 now, I still feel like I’m the youngest in the room. The belief that arises is that I don’t have enough experience to be teaching.

 

What book guides your philosophy of living? 

AM—The Woman Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. That book was revolutionary for me. I love that it’s based on fairytales, and I like how it’s soaked in the female psyche and the experience of women being wild.

What’s the superpower that you bring to your communities? 

AMMy superpower is a vulnerability in my ability to share how I feel. My former business partner used to call me very emotionally agile.

My ability to open up and share is a doorway for young people to feel safe to share. When I am open and vulnerable, I create a space or a brave space for other people to be open and vulnerable. That has created a really strong sense of community for me.

CROI feel like we go deep into our dark caves, and we’re in our own caves, but together. There’s a quiet and space for introspection, but we’re all in it together.

When I’m teaching, I go deep down into myself and kind of sit in the mud, this very dark and heavy space. When I meet myself in the mud, people come with me and enter their own mud; the darkness and the heaviness we all carry.  

What have you learned through the community that you could not have done alone? 

CROThe biggest gift that I’ve received being in the community is how much deeper I’ve gotten to know myself in the community. By simply showing up and being together, whether it’s a yoga class or dinner with friends, I feel like I get to know myself so much more by being around other people.

Through this interaction with others, I feel way more inspired by what I see around me and the amazingness that is in all of us. 

AMRight now, being in quarantine and not being directly in the community in the same way, I miss feeling reflected in others. I enjoy it when someone shares something beautiful or their joy or sadness. It gives me something to relate to. That’s what community gives me, relatability. 

The only word I have for it is humanity. We’re all on our journeys. We’re all trying to figure it out. No one has the answers. Coming together as a community shows us how we’re all just figuring it out. I miss being with people in that way. 

What does it mean to hold space for others? 

AM—Holding space means staying in your body and breathing for yourself. 

I don’t need to jump out of my own experience to make anyone feel safe. It’s so interesting because when someone cries, it’s like, oh, don’t cry, or here’s a tissue, or you want to run over and give them a big hug.

Especially with young girls, this is how they want to show up and support each other. I stay in my own body to set boundaries and let this young person have their emotional experience without trying to coddle or stifle it. 

I have the mentality of; I’ll sit here as long as you need me to just be present for you to move through this.

CROAll of my teachers are very strong with boundaries in doing the work stepping back to allow others to have their own experience. I used to get a lot of slack from yoga studios because they wanted me to be around before and after class to be with students. When I taught at this time, I felt like I would give my soul to the class as a way to hold space, and by the time I got home, I would be exhausted. 

I always have to remember when I’m teaching classes or workshops, or when I’m on retreat, that I need to take a lot of time for myself too.

Holding space takes up a lot of energy. In my younger days of teaching, I was so depleted from the work of being together. When I teach, I feel my breath and open my own heart to what I’m directly experiencing, what I feel, and hear. The gift of this practice is that it brings up your own experiences and emotions. The lesson is to sit with how you feel and not try to change what’s happening around you or change what’s happening within.

I learned early on from my teachers that when somebody’s sharing, you don’t go and rub their back or do anything that takes them out of their experience. You sit and observe and just be with them. You become the space for them to unload something; we all carry a burden that becomes lighter if we share it. 

What are some of the communication strategies you use in workshops or retreats? 

AMSomething we use in Girlvana is clarity, transparency, and brevity. This way, the intention, and communication are super transparent. We let everyone know at the beginning of the workshop or retreat that these are the three agreements, so people can self-correct if they start rambling. It’s a great way to bring everyone together in the circle. 

CROI use the four agreements taken from the book by Don Miguel Ruiz, and I add a fifth agreement that I’ve found helps.

The agreements are:

  1. Be impeccable with your word, 
  2. Don’t take anything personally, 
  3. Don’t make assumptions, 
  4. Always do your best,
  5. Be mindful.

I add in the fifth rule because we’re in a group, and it’s essential to be aware of how much you contribute versus how much you’re not contributing. When we come together as a collective, we can learn so much from each other. If you’re the type of person who’s always engaging and speaking, it’s an opportunity to step back to observe and listen. If you’re the type of person who’s quiet, it’s an opportunity to speak and see what you can learn through bringing your voice and opinion to the group. 

I’ve been to training where it’s the same three people talking the whole time, in a group of like twenty people. There’s so much more knowledge in the room that we could be sharing instead of just listening to three perspectives.

Join the Community

Check out the upcoming events and opportunities for peer learning.

Join Practice with Clara

New members get 7-days FREE!

Sign up for a recurring subscription and get access to hundreds of different yoga classes and join the weekly LIVE yoga class.

Join me for an experiencial practice!

My favourite thing about yoga is getting to watch people have a connection with themselves.

 

Yoga at Home

Reaffirm your commitment to a home yoga practice!

Read our post on how to set up a home yoga studio and the benefits of joining the Class of the Day.

 

✧ Join the Community ✧

Our community boasts yogis from countries all over the world who gather and co-create the spaces we share on the Practice with Clara platform.

Join a community of over 1.3k yogis from around the world in the Practice with Clara Facebook Group

· Share your feedback

· Seek help and motivation from the community

· Discuss and receive input on yoga challenges and injuries

· Cultivate a global community

· Exclusive access to content and upcoming events

· Bring your ideas and questions to the Practice with Clara Ambassadors 

Take a LIVE yoga class with Clara each week and join hundreds of yogis worldwide. 

· Ask Clara questions in the live Q&A after class

· Participate in a class with Clara and the community

· Put in your request for a specific class

· Build to a peak pose in a vinyasa-style sequence

· Learn modifications for injuries

· Receive how-to guides to advance your practice

More Opportunties on Practice with Clara

See the History of Our 30-Day Yoga Challenges 

Take a look at the past 30-day yoga challenges. 

Read the history of the 30-day challenges with the past partnerships, themes, interviews with professionals, and more. 

Join an Upcoming 30-Day Yoga Challenge

See when the next 30-day yoga challenge is hosted to join the LIVE yoga & meditation classes.

Check out the events page to learn more. 

Are you looking for more opportunities to practice yoga, for free? 

Check out our Free Yoga page to see the latest offerings. 

Choose from three unique, free, offerings: 

30-day challenge
7-day series for beginners
7-day series for advanced vinyasa yogis 

✧ Community Feedback ✧

vinyasa yoga
vinyasa yoga
vinyasa yoga
vinyasa yoga
vinyasa yoga
vinyasa yoga

✧ Frequently Asked Questions ✧

1. What is the Practice with Clara Membership & App?

Practice with Clara is an online platform and Apps that allow you to take your yoga with you anywhere, anytime! With hundreds of classes in various styles, including Hatha, Vinyasa, Restorative, Yin, Prenatal, and Meditation, there’s something for everyone at any level of the practice. The Practice with Clara Membership provides a monthly or yearly subscription package with the first 7-days free for you to experience the courses. 

2. How is the Membership Different from the YouTube Playlists?

A membership to the Practice with Clara Apps provides:

  • Access to the members-only library of yoga classes
  • Weekly LIVE classes with Clara
  • Unique events and workshops
  • Downloadable assets including:
    • Monthly Calendars
    • Journaling Booklets
    • Spotify Playlists
  • Access to a community of yogis worldwide 
  • Q&A sessions with Clara
  • & much more!

Clara’s YouTube Channel provides carefully curated playlists to introduce you to the free programs and yoga challenges for you to get a taste of what’s offered and commit to your wellness!

3. What Do I Get When I Join the 7-Day Program?

The 7-day programs include: 

  • 7-Days of Vinyasa Yoga Intensive
  • 7-Days of Yoga for Beginners

These programs provide a weeks-worth of yoga classes to ignite your yoga practice and cultivate a new, healthy habit. 

When you sign-up for one of these programs, you’ll receive:

  • A welcome email to the program from Clara
  • A class each day for 1-week
  • Curated Spotify playlists to accompany each course
  • A calendar to track your progress
  • Access to the private Practice with Clara Facebook Group

These programs are free with no hidden costs or fees; PLUS, you’ll still receive the 7-day free trial on the Practice with Clara Apps once you complete the series!

4. What Do I Get When I Join the 30-Day Yoga Challenge?

We host quarterly 30-day yoga challenges that are always free for all members of Practice with Clara. Each yoga challenge is themed based on the season. We’ve provided our inaugural challenge, Reconnect | A 30-Day Yoga Challenge, as an email series for you to try to test your physical and mental discipline and endurance!

What you receive in Reconnect | 30-Day Challenge

  • A welcome email to the program from Clara
  • A class each day for 30-days
  • Curated Spotify playlists to accompany each course
  • A calendar to track your progress
  • A journaling booklet to incite self-reflection 
  • Access to the private Practice with Clara Facebook Group

This program is free, anytime, with no hidden costs or fees, PLUS you’ll still receive the 7-day free trial on the Practice with Clara Apps once you complete the series!

 5.  I Want to Try the App, What’s Next? 

Great, we’re so happy to have you join our community!

To set up the Practice with Clara App, here are your next steps:

6. I’m Injured, Pregnant, or New to the Practice—Can I Join?

YES, no matter where you are at in your practice, there are classes for you on Practice with Clara. 

We’ve created playlists for beginners and those who are new to the practice.

we also have the Prenatal Collections with classes from the 1st – 4th trimesters that I created when I was pregnant with my daughter. 

Finally, I offer PLENTY of modifications and suggestions based on injury in all the platform classes. 

The biggest thing is to always listen to your body; your body is the greatest teacher.

Join Practice with Clara

New members get 7-days FREE!

Sign up for a recurring subscription and get access to hundreds of different yoga classes and join the weekly LIVE yoga class.