After almost a decade of immersing herself in nature and embracing the yoga world, Ann has discovered her ideal mental, physical, and spiritual balance: yoga outdoors!
Healthy in mind, strong in body, and genuine in spirit; deeply connected with herself and her surroundings, and appreciative of life and nature…Ann Carlson, an inspiring being, empowering yoga instructor, and passionate entrepreneur, invites you to join her in this journey of personal equilibrium and constant evolution, which she feels can heal the world!
Ann grew up in Waverly, a modest picturesque town in northeast Iowa. Outdoor activities and sports, such as soccer, track, cheerleading, and dancing, where always part of her daily life. At the age of 19, in search of adventure and eager to make a difference, Ann joined AmeriCorps, a local, state, and national network that connects thousands of Americans each year in an effort to meet community needs. She was accepted into a ten month program where she lived and worked with nine other young adults. “It was in 2006, a year after hurricane Katrina,” recalls Ann, “so we spent a lot of time in the New Orleans, Louisiana and Biloxi, Mississippi areas working in schools, residences andHabitat for Humanity projects; we were tutoring kids, gutting and demolding homes, and we wereeven trained as wild land firefighters to conduct controlled burns.” Besides discovering a whole world full of beauty and diversity, participating in this program was “enriching and humbling, and the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done,” she says.
During that period, Ann learned about the exciting opportunity of living and working at national parks. “I met a girl who had done a summer in Yosemite and told me about the whole seasonal job scenario…My eyes had been opened to traveling and I wanted more, so I pursued that adventure,” she explains. After trying her luck at different parks, Ann made her choice: she packed light and moved to Yellowstone, one of the largest and most amazing wilderness areas on Earth! When she wasn’t working at the lodge’s restaurant, Ann spent most of her free time sharing stories with new friends around the bonfire, hiking, backpacking and camping: “I went for the summer but stayed for four seasons.” Amazed by the power and beauty of nature, Ann decided to experience more of the outdoor lifestyle and continued seeking jobs at different nature hubs. Sequoia and Olympic National Parks were next! “While living at these amazing places, where I quickly felt at home, I gained my appreciation for moving my body outdoors,” she says.
Into the Yoga World
Ann took her first yoga class in her hometown when she was 15. “I had to leave early because I just couldn’t handle it…I was too immature at the time to be able to actually listen to the teachers’ references to the relation of mind and body and take them seriously, instead I would just giggle at things and eventually had to leave,” she confesses. “Ironically, I went to that class with a friend who today, 13 years later, is also a yoga teacher. Isn’t life funny?” Over the years, Ann tried a few more yoga classes, but it wasn’t until she turned 24 that she really started to understand and embrace the yoga world. “A friend I met while working in Sequoia, who was also a yoga teacher, inspired me to start practicing,” says Ann. “At first, it was just yoga videos in my small cabin up in the mountains, but I was pretty hooked from the beginning.” According to Ann, her addiction “really kicked in” after achieving the lotus pose in headstand for the first time. Before her passion for yoga started growing, running was Ann’s favored physical activity. “Running is wonderful, but with yoga I can really see and feel improvements daily in so many ways,” she assures. “Every pose is a constant evolution and because there are so many levels and ways to approach each pose, I never get bored.”
The Gift of Mindfulness
While initially Ann felt drawn to the strength and beauty of certain poses—such as handstand or upward bow—and yearned to achieve them, over time, her interest changed. Accomplishing more advanced poses was no longer important to her, a sudden mental shift had taken place. “It was the noticing of the ego, that thing that wants me to be able to stick handstands and float with grace, that has changed my life,” Ann explains. “Because yoga is basically meditation in motion, my mind has slowed down and I am more able to notice subtle feelings I have never noticed before. Yoga has helped me build a sense of self-worth, it has shown me the importance of gratitude, it has allowed me to see that I choose my perspective in any given situation…it has shown me that the beauty inside myself is in everyone and everything around me. My yoga practice has given me the gift of Mindfulness.”
After years of working and living in national parks, traveling around the world on the off season, and completing hundreds of hours of yoga, Ann has evolved to a new level, she has become a registered yoga teacher and is lighting up the world with her energy. “I feel so lucky to have found yoga, and now to be able to share it with others through teaching regularly at a studio,” she expresses, “I’ve been able to develop and grow as a yoga teacher, teaching at the studio in town, to inmates at the prison an hour outside of town (Yoga Behind Bars Program), and now also in the wilderness with the Outdoor Yoga Project (OYP).” Ann is a co-founder of OYP, which organizes and conducts overnight backpacking retreats—including yoga classes, meditation and freshly made wholesome meals—in the Olympic National Park backcountry and beaches. “There is no better place to disconnect from external stressors and reconnect with yourself than nature,” she says, “whenever I feel out of tune, all I have to do is turn to nature and listen.” Ann has gracefully combined both of her passions, nature and yoga, to reach an optimal equilibrium of mind, body and soul. In her journey for constant evolution, she has also created a unique way of motivating and engaging others by cultivating an appreciation for mother nature and her importance in our lives. “I genuinely feel yoga can heal the world, and I intend to do my part in spreading the word any way I can find!” Ann concludes. ♥To know more about Ann Carlson and stay connected, visit and like Annspired Yoga on Facebook and to try Ann’s next yoga class, if you are lucky enough to live at the foothills of the Olympic National Park, visit the Poser Yoga Studios‘s site!
Note: Although the OYP has had two great years, it has been suspended until farther notice.
Ann Carlson’s Photo Gallery:
Outdoor Yoga Project, Olympic National Park
Yoga on the Water, Ann Carlson
Wheel Pose, by Ann Carlson
Ann with OYP
Ann Carlson, Outdoors Yoga
One-Legged King Pigeon Pose by Ann Karson
Half Frog Pigeon Pose, OYP
Ann and her dog
Sunset at Olympic National Park, Ann Carlson
Firefly Pose, by Ann Carlson
OYP, backpacking yoga trip
Poser Yoga, Ann Carlson
24 mile hike, Aim True, Ann Carlson
Yoga Program @ Clallam Bay Corrections Center