Sasha Elizabeth Parker says one, two, three – ready or not, I’m coming to get you! No, not a nephew or niece – she is addressing her inner-child, encouraged by Valencia-based yoga practitioner Ani
All grown-ups were once children… but only a few of them remember it.
— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
For those of you who also adore this literature classic you might think it’s quite fitting to know that I first read this book up in the clouds on a flight across Europe. I was twentysomething at the time! But better late than never, right? This book resonates with me on so many levels; just like the little prince I, too, feel as though I’m travelling the universe gaining wisdom and learning how to open my mind as well as my heart. Luckily, unlike the narrator and pilot of the book, my plane didn’t crash. By the end of my flight and the end of the book, I had been reminded of the importance of nurturing my inner-child. After all, this is the best way to explore both the world around us and the world within.
The story of The Little Prince came to mind when my journey brought me to Ani. On my quest to find both my place and purpose in life, I bumped into Ani from Ani Now Yoga (based in Valencia). Ani is a spiritual trainer as well as a holistic yoga and pilates teacher. I try not to pay attention to job titles, I rather prefer to peer at the person behind the position but, I must admit I gave ‘spiritual trainer’ a second glance. This is a term Ani tells me she found not that long ago and yet she always knew that was exactly what she was destined to do – something inside told her and it’s exactly what she’s doing right now. She’s providing both emotional and spiritual guidance for those who need it (I think we could all benefit from a little bit of both).
When Ani was a little kid she went through some difficult times; of course, everyone experiences troublesome times but not everyone lives through it in the same way. Some 19 years ago, when Ani was five, her father passed away, and even though she was so young she can remember the pain she and her loved ones felt. Years later, Ani suffered from teenage depression and a lot of anxiety. What always got her through these trying times was the thought that this trauma was going to help her, and to help someone else someday. Since then, Ani has learnt a lot about the mind and how humans behave. She’s learnt how our mind can take us to places where we don’t want to go, places where we don’t want to be. Luckily for us, Ani has also learnt how to deal with that – how to conquer fear so that fear didn’t conquer her, and in turn it won’t conquer you.
Ani came to be a spiritual trainer with the helping hand of yoga. After going to therapy, Ani realised she was stuck in the same place. Her therapist suggested yoga as a way to assist her in her healing process. At first, Ani dismissed the idea (as most of us do). It was only when Ani hit rock bottom that she finally decided to take to the mat in order to make her way towards the light and in turn towards her destiny.
Before Ani was a spiritual trainer and holistic yoga and pilates teacher, she was heading towards a different kind of light – stardom. Ani was a rising singer and actress and had started to receive a lot of attention, something which she didn’t feel comfortable receiving because she felt she was giving nothing back in return. Ani puts it quite poetically – in the moment she reached her own tipping point, she felt exactly like Rose from the film Titanic: “I felt like I was standing in the middle of a crowded room, screaming at the top of my lungs, and no one even looked up.” Ani had finally started to receive the attention she’d been craving since childhood but, instead of feeling on top of the world, she was struggling to keep afloat.
Ani stepped off the stage, out of the limelight and onto her yoga mat. Swapping the stage door for the changing room and taking a weekend retail job to stay afloat financially, Ani was able to spend her time doing yoga and writing in her journal.
I was lucky enough to take heed of what helped Ani to heal her emotional wounds and nurture her inner-child. Tip number one on how to deal with pain and find peace: write. This is something Ani does regularly. The important point to note here is that you have to know how to write – don’t worry, you don’t need to know writing techniques, rather you need to be aware of the dialogue that’s going on in your mind. If the dialogue is wrong, the words you write are going to be wrong. So, what’s the secret? You have to learn how to write in a compassionate way – in the way you would talk to a small child. In doing so, you will learn why you are suffering and in turn you can try to comfort yourself. Simply start the conversation with the question: “how do you feel?” And when you get a response, listen to it without judgment and remember that everything is valid.
If writing doesn’t work (which is highly possible as sometimes we simply have too much going on in our heads), try tip number two: distract yourself – go and do something which makes you feel present in the moment. When we feel pain it’s usually because of something we experienced in the past or something which we think we will experience in the future – most of the time the pain isn’t caused by the present moment. Ani has a tattoo to remind herself “aquí ahora” which means “here now”. When you are present, pain will never feel the same again.
In general, Ani believes we have to awaken a more sensitive part of ourselves. Ani went through anxiety as an illness, she suffered panic attacks because her nervous system was so out of control. So, how did she get through it? By experiencing the pain and in turn awakening a more sensitive part of herself. Ani describes this process as a spiritual awakening – and no, that doesn’t mean that she floats when she meditates nor does it mean that she sees spirits floating around her. For Ani, a spiritual awakening means that she can finally see people the way they truly are. Some might say, Ani can see their soul.
So, where exactly is Ani on her journey right now? Professionally, Ani describes herself as a “newborn” as this is just the beginning – the beginning of something big. Ani has set out on her journey to build a community, a place where people can go to find themselves. And personally, well, Ani puts it like this: “I’m still working on it”. From where I’m sitting, it’s clear to me that she’s well on her way to healing both herself and those around her.
If you need a helping hand on or off the mat to ease the pain and find peace you can reach out to Ani on Instagram: ani_nowyoga
Physical classes include:
- Pilates, yoga, conscious functional training, or a mix of all three disciplines
- Work for the mind and soul: spiritual coaching sessions
Now, go and look for that pesky inner-child…
Sasha Elizabeth Parker is from York, England and is slowly working her way to Valencia, Spain — via a five-year sojourn in prickly picturesque Poland. No, not a Ryanair cock-up — as John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens… when you’re busy making other plans”. On the plus side, along the way she’s won the hearts of Poles and developed a penchant for pierogi.