New Year, New You
The Nopo Ambassador Miki Ash shares her journey to a mindful life
New Year, New Me. It’s a mantra we’ve all heard and tried to put into practice many times before. But what does that actually mean? How do we become healthier, stronger, calmer, more mindful? Is it doing yoga, meditating, journaling, changing our diet?
“The most important thing you can do when you start your wellness journey is to allow yourself to be a beginner,” yoga and meditation teacher and newest Nopo Ambassador Miki Ash told us. “Mindfulness is the one journey that never ends, you need to allow the process to unfold without expectations or pressure.”
According to Miki, the most damaging thing we can do in our lifelong journey to wellbeing is to treat it as a never-ending list of to-dos that need to be ticked off, lest we turn the very process that is meant to heal us into a source of stress.
Born and bred in Los Angeles, Miki started her own wellness quest aged just seventeen, at a time when her life was taken up by an uncertain path in college, a relationship that wasn’t helping her to grow, and a lifestyle that drained her of energy.
“I went home for the summer and realized I wouldn’t be able to sustain myself financially to go back to college in NYC. I felt completely directionless. I wasn’t exercising, I wasn’t eating properly, I had no idea what to do with myself.”
A friend’s mother suggested she try a yoga class and, for want of something better to do, Miki went along. “The first time was a real torture,” she remembers with a laugh. “I didn’t know how to breathe, I couldn’t touch my toes when I bent over and had no stamina whatsoever. But after the class, I felt amazing and thought, what kind of magic is this?”
The most pivotal realization for Miki was that yoga was a safe space devoid of competition, expectations, or pressure. Being on the mat gave her permission to be “bad” and made her dive headfirst into the exploration of the practice, both from a practical and theoretical point of view, learning about the history and philosophy of yoga with a teacher training course.
Yoga helped Miki to deal with her mindset of the tortured artist that had so far governed her. Drawn to any kind of art since an early age, Miki was always drawing, painting, or photographing ever since she can remember. “When I was a kid I used to dress up my friends and pretend to have photoshoots with them, and that continued in high school when I started taking pictures more frequently. I see the world in frames, and taking pictures is a way for me to share my vision of the world with others.”
After a stint as a yoga teacher in Costa Rica, she moved back to the US to teach yoga and art in primary schools, until she decided to dedicate her life exclusively to sharing her journey to wellness to empower others to do the same.
In 2019, Miki sold her furniture and, armed with a one-way ticket, a backpack, and accompanied by her boyfriend, she set off to teach retreats and workshops around the world, from Mexico to Bali, from Spain to South Africa. “The year I spent traveling was one of the most empowering times of my life. Living off what I could carry on my back made me realize how little we need to be happy, and supporting myself by teaching what I love made me understand that I really can make a life wherever I am.”
However, being always on the move meant that Miki was away from her original community in LA. Wanting to unite people across geographies and stay in touch with those she met during her workshops and travels, Miki launched her app The How in January 2020, collating a wealth of resources from yoga and meditation classes to workshops, to podcasts in one of the most comprehensive wellness libraries available today.
“Ever since I had started my Instagram account, where I could put together wellness, art, and teaching, I understood that what really matters to me is to cultivate a community. So many times people ask how they can get from point A to point B, and that’s exactly what The How is, a collection of resources and ideas to build your own journey towards a more mindful and holistic life.” With the world moving almost exclusively online in 2020, The How proved an even more vital resource for thousands of people and today counts over 3200 users.
One of the highlights for Miki during her travels was to teach in Mexico, a place that had always been close to her heart. With a Mexican maternal grandfather who she sadly never met and growing up in southern California, Mexico had always felt like a home away from home for her. “I used to drive down to Mexico on short trips and felt so inspired by the people, the culture, the food. I am honored and excited to be teaching my next retreat in Troncones, Guerrero, a small beach village on the lesser-known Pacific coast of Mexico.”
Over a transformative week in the paradisiac resort of Lo Sereno, people will be able to fully relax and go on an intensive journey of reconnection to the self, thanks to the twice-daily practices and workshops, the healthy, hearty cuisine, and the serene and beautifully curated aesthetic of the location.
“The best thing about teaching retreats for me is the deep transformation I see in people, from the moment they arrive as a stressed bundle of nerves, to the day they leave happy, present, and in tune with themselves. It’s a really potent way of quickly dropping in and doing a lot of healing that we wouldn’t be able to do with the distractions of everyday life.”
Balancing adventure, relaxation, exploration, and romance, the week-long retreat taught by Miki, and organized in partnership with Open up Healing, is running from 17th January and still has a few spots left.
And if you can’t make it this time, worry not. Miki has curated a beautiful collection of her favorites from The Nopo. Explore it today and bring some of her mindfulness home with you.