We sat down *virtually* with Allison Walton, yoga instructor and movement artist to discuss movement, self-expression, and developing a home practice.
Tell us a little bit about yourself! What do you love to do? What inspires you?
At heart, I am a highly sensitive and complex human being simply trying to keep my head above water just as much as the rest of us. About eight months ago, my teaching role was swept right out from underneath my feet and left me doubting a heck of a whole lot. Rather than try to quickly pivot to a virtual teaching format, I paused my work and focused on managing my mental health. Throughout that time, I rekindled my love of dance and found ways to re-integrate it into a much more personal movement practice. Those moments are literally what have kept me on my feet and inspired to continue teaching. And so here I am, riding this wave and just looking forward to seeing where it takes me. My evolution is very much still unfolding right before my own eyes.
I have been spending more time with poetry lately, and it has helped in navigating the complexities of this world on a deeper level. It has become a bit of a preferred love language, as it nurtures my reflective, introspective tendencies and inspires the way I walk about and observe the world around me. I've found the integration of poetry and movement to be a beautiful thing, and am inspired to offer more moments of it in due time.
How did you develop your work in Movement?
From a very young age, I could be found in a pair of tap or jazz shoes -- scratching up or smoothing out the kitchen floor with an absolute sense of joy and wonder. The rhythm and sequencing seemed to come natural, as though my body was born to dance through and through. Over time, I was introduced to various styles of yoga and found a sweet spot with vinyasa, as it lends itself to sequencing and orchestration that is beautifully reminiscent of my dancing days. It supports and nurtures my need for fluid movement and self-expression while grounding my active and overstimulated mind. As it's designed to, it brought union well within and beyond my personal circumstances. It was always the blue sky to a grey day, fluidity to stagnancy, and safe shelter to a body that may have felt lost or experiencing temporary chaos.
After years of feeling as though I had fully embraced the practice, I decided that it may as well be time to study on a deeper level, and perhaps guide my own style as a way to foster a sense of creativity and community. And so I did. While my training is mostly rooted in more traditional yogic practices, I find that I'm steering more towards the term 'movement' to better embody the styles I share. It opens the window to being a bit more free-form in nature and tends towards intuitive techniques that are less structured. There's already plenty of structure and rigidity in this world, therefore the true essence of a movement practice that I long to share lands tenderly, softly, and sweetly. My hope is that I always continue to learn from and share this beautiful art form as it evolves and carries us through the precious currents of life.
What does the word movement mean to you?
Movement is range and motion. Creativity and self-expression. Freedom and fluidity. Movement is a union of the natural elements that exist in our bodies - the air in our lungs, fire in our hearts, water in our kidneys, and earth in our feet. It's our breath and limbs leading the way to externally express what our interior craves to say.
How did you develop your own at home practice and what advice do you have for someone looking to create their own practice of movement, ritual, or moment for themself?
It took some time, and continues to take time, to nurture and develop a truly supportive at-home practice. Is it consistent? No. However, I know that I can always decide when and how to pick it back up, and it's (r)evolutionary every single time. Often, I abstain from rolling out my mat so that I don't feel confined to four corners within a room that begs to take up space. A blank canvas encourages me to start from my feet and work my way up in order to go in, drawing from both theory and intuition.
In order to feel anchored in the ritual of home practice, there are a few fundamental sensory elements that I lean into:
Natural light, be it sunlight or candlelight, that's easy on the eyes. A window that connects me to the outside world, or the flicker from a flame that supports internal circadian rhythm when transitioning from day to night.
A subtle scent, usually in the form of smokeless incense. Something that's tender on the lungs and encourages me to inhale more fully / soften more sweetly.
Sound and music, which comes in the form of a well curated playlist. Intentional background noise helps to tone the heartbeat of the practice. I steer more towards instrumental music these days, but lyrics can also land powerfully and emotionally when in motion or at rest.
In terms of advice for those seeking to create their own at home practice, it truly depends on an individual's current needs. Navigating this virtual-sphere of practicing at home has landed so differently for all, presenting a mix of joys and challenges. We are all essentially 'home bodies' that crave privacy, space, and tender loving care, therefore a screened-in zoom practice may not always meet those individual needs or circumstances. My Nurturing a Home Practice offering exists for this reason, to privately support individuals through the process of feeling more at home in their body.
If you could have a tea or take a Boketto moment (a moment of daydreaming and of rest) with any person dead or alive who would it be? What kind of tea would you have?
I'd walk through fields of flowers with Nina Simone, sing alongside Stevie Nicks while driving down the PCH, and enjoy sunset empanadas with strangers on the beach. As for tea, it would be something floral and under the sun with a loved one.
What does a moment of rest, recharging, or nourishment look like for you?
True and purposeful rest is the body in a horizontal state without noise or distraction. The deepest layer of rest is cycling through breath patterns that support a parasympathetic response from the nervous system. Blankets and layers of warmth and comfort are usually involved, to feel held and cocooned.
Recharging is temporarily removing myself from a stimulating environment and settling into a more introspective environment, ideally surrounded by nature (or elements of it). As a water creature, the ocean usually serves to recharge me quite well.
Nourishment is a warm bowl of beans and greens with extra virgin olive oil and something funky like furikake or pickled mustard seeds. A little dash of hot sauce and all is swell.
What's something you want people to know about you that I wouldn't think to ask.
That I'm silly under the surface and can put down some carrot cake.
Cancer / Virgo / Libra