We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashlea Skiles and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ashlea, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
There are many crossroads on a person’s life journey, Successes and hardships. Wins and fails. Loves and losses. On my personal journey, I’ve consistently found solace, safety, and resilience on my yoga mat. It is this solace–this space to sit, lie, breathe, sweat, surrender, and move that compelled me to become a yoga teacher, so that I could share this special gift with as many Black and Brown people as possible. Equity and liberatory practices have always been both top of mind and heart, so I knew I had to become a part of nurturing a community of yoga practitioners (comprised of partners, allies, accomplices) who share a vision of yoga as a form of radical self-care and social justice. A community who practices yoga as a form of resistance, as well as a method for healing the mental, emotional, and spiritual body. Whenever possible, we practice out in nature. Connecting with and caring for the earth is a large part of yogic philosophy, so it’s important that we ground and connect with Mother Earth-energy. Today, BIPOC communities across the nation are still in need of greater representation in the wellness industry. We need safer spaces that are welcoming, supportive and encouraging. Opportunities to remove the mask and simply be; experiencing one another’s humanity of shared pains, struggles, and joys. Sadly, our western world continues to promote capitalism, productivity, busyness, and has commodified the practice of yoga. One of my aims is to provide students with an awareness, a path, and the yogic tools to sustain their own independent and personal yoga practices. I believe there is a profound positive ripple effect out into the world for every student who uses yoga for their own healing and personal growth. And when we come together to practice in community, holding space for one another, this serves as a powerful form of collective healing that we consciously take off of our yoga mats and out into the world.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Five years ago I decided to leave the comfort and stability of my teaching job in New Jersey for Denver, Colorado. I did not have close family or friends here in Denver, but I decided to go on an adventure of new beginnings. I told myself (and my pup) that we always had the option of returning home, Taking a risk and journeying into the unknown was scary, but I was determined to push past comfortable and put myself out there. I joined several Meetups, and through this process I met some incredible humans with shared interests: hiking, yoga, reading (shout out to the Denver Girly Book Club), and eventually found my communities. The lesson I learned along the way is that there will be lonely days, and times when you might begin to second guess a life changing decision, but with big risks can come big rewards. My decision to relocate and make Denver home has turned out to be one of my best life decisions, especially with regard to my mental and physical health. Zero regrets!

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
VISIT: Staunton State Park, in Pine, CO: for its varied, clearly-marked, beautifully clean trails. Chatfield State Park, Littleton, CO: for stand-up paddle boarding and SUP Yoga. (Check out 5280PaddleBoardSports for board rentals).
Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater: for Film on the Rocks, or Yoga on the Rocks.
“Yoga Rocks The Park” Summer Series, Denver, CO.
SunWater Spa, Manitou Springs: for hot soaking tub and varied spa treatments.
Mt. Princeton Hot Springs, Nathrop, CO: for the natural hot springs.

EATS + DRINKS: Jax Fish House & Oyster Bar, Denver, CO: for the best dirty martini with bleu cheese olives.
Briar Common Brewery, Denver, CO: for the best service and hospitality.
Fire – The ART Hotel Denver, Denver, CO: for a great rooftop ambiance.
Tamayo, Denver, CO: for “bottomless everything brunch” (you will need an Uber).
Cabana X at Bar Helix: for the best covid-measures, hospitality, and creative, flavorful cocktails.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
People/Places: Black to Yoga, Oakland, CA. The River Yoga, Denver, CO. Dunia Dharma owned by Mona Lisa, Denver, CO. Buffalo + Sparrow, owned by Rachel and Cole, Denver, CO. Dubwise Yoga owned by Natasha, Denver, CO. Urban Sanctuary owned by Ali Duncan, Denver, CO. Euda K. Best, Denver, CO. ViBe Theater: Ms. Linda Lopez and Ms. Aimee Cox. My mother, Josephine Skiles, for always being my biggest supporter and encouraging me to pursue life’s passions.

Books: “Restorative Yoga for Ethnic and Race-Based Stress and Trauma” by Dr. Gail Parker.
“Skill in Action” by Michelle C. Johnson.
“Embrace Yoga’s Roots” by Susanna Barkataki.
“How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi.

Instagram: @yogicmelanin [https://www.instagram.com/yogicmelanin/]

Other: Email: yogicmelanin@gmail.com

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutColorado is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.