This week’s Daytonian of the Week has found a way to seamlessly combine her biggest passion with her love for the city she calls home.
Alex Keller, founder of Alex Keller Yoga, has mastered her craft and made it her mission to help Daytonians discover the joys and benefits of practicing. Pushing her students a step further, Keller often takes her classes to Dayton’s many scenic waterways — opening people up to a completely new experience.
“I have stayed in Dayton for many reasons, but first and foremost my family is here,” Keller said.
After moving to Dayton in 2004 with her family, Keller went to Wright State University for both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Public Health.
Not only does Keller live her passion every day, she has given her time to groups in need throughout the area, including youth groups, HIV support groups and people dealing with addictions. We sat down with Keller to find out more about what motivates her to stay flexible and strive for a balanced life:
Dayton.com: What led you to practicing yoga and eventually teaching yoga?
🏄♀️Keller: My first experience with yoga was with a Yoga VHS that I got for my birthday in 2005. I used to practice ballet and competitive horseback riding, my mom had taken a yoga class and thought it might help my performance so I gave it a try. I kind of fell into teaching yoga in 2009, I was a pilates instructor at Wright State University and they needed a teacher last minute for a beginner yoga class and I said OK. Then my teaching was strictly the postures, I didn’t know anything about meditation or mindfulness until my first yoga teacher training. My yoga practice evolved into something more than just a workout. It provided me with a coping mechanism for stress while working full time and going to school full time. I wanted to share the benefits of yoga, so I created Alex Keller Yoga with the intention to bring yoga to populations that wouldn’t normally do yoga. During my master’s, I had the opportunity to partner with PHDMC and the Dayton Public Library to teach yoga over the summer to kids in Northwest Dayton. That grew into teaching HIV support groups and those suffering from drug addiction. My mission quickly became DO YOGA DAYTON, where I aspired to share yoga all over Dayton.
Dayton.com: What does yoga bring to your life? What kind of adventures has it led you to?
🏄♀️Keller: Yoga has taught me harmony in thought, speech and action. Yoga has taken me on an adventure of personal growth. I confess there was no profound change when I first started yoga, but over time, small organic alterations had a positive impact on who I am today. Yoga has helped me find my inner strength, confidence and discipline to live an authentic life. After years of a strictly asana practice, I was exposed to the yoga sutras and meditation. These were the tools that helped dig me out of my habitual patterns. I have had the opportunity to teach and witness how people’s lives have been touched by the transformative power of yoga. My yoga practice has accepted me where I am. It has been patient, and it is constantly evolving to one day unfold into its truest expression.
Dayton.com: You take yoga a step further and do it (and teach it) on the water! How is that experience different than a typical yoga experience? Should people be intimidated to try it?
🏄♀️ Keller: Yoga on a Stand Up paddle board or SUP Yoga is a fun practice with some great benefits. One of my favorite ways to exercise outside is to take my paddleboard out, find a quiet spot and yoga. Falling in the cool refreshing water is the best part. Here are 5 reasons to take your yoga practice to the water:
1. Yoga on a moving surface fires up stabilizer muscles and the core creating strength in stability in the muscles and joints.
2. Sup yoga requires focus on the poses but also the transition between them making you more mindful of your body during your practice.
3. Less is more on the paddle board. The paddle board makes simple poses more dynamic, allowing practitioners develop body awareness.
4. No practice is ever the same. Every time I go out on the paddle board, the wind, water and environment are always changing, creating a new experience with each practice.
5. It is an opportunity to experience the beauty of outside!
Dayton.com: For someone who knows nothing about the yoga community we have in our area, what is the Dayton yoga community like?
🏄♀️Keller: The Dayton Yoga community is huge and just continues to keep growing! If you are new to the area or want to learn more about the different styles and studios I highly recommend attending the Urban Yoga Movement this January. Classes are taught by instructors from studios all over the Dayton area. There are several different styles of yoga offered as well as lectures and meditation.
Dayton.com: What are you up to when you’re not keeping Dayton flexible?
🏄♀️Keller: When I am not teaching I am paddling, hiking, biking and adventuring in Dayton’s amazing parks and rivers.
Dayton.com: In your opinion, what are some underrated things about Dayton?
🏄♀️Keller: Dayton has an amazing outdoor community. We have the best rivers, bike trails, whitewater features and metroparks. The list goes on and on for adventure in Dayton and so many people have no idea that these things are here and free to the public.
Dayton.com: Any big projects you have coming up this next year? Yoga related or just personally?
🏄♀️Keller: I created the Urban Yoga Movement with Tom Foolery Outdoors, Dayton Ohio’s first and largest yoga conference. With the help of local sponsors including Whole Foods and Wagner Subaru, we designed this event to bring yogis and wellness enthusiasts together for a celebration of community, learning and growth. Our 4th year will the first Saturday in January 2019. I hope to see you there!
Dayton.com: Finally, what are some of your favorite Dayton spots? Restaurants, bars, parks… etc.?
🏄♀️Keller: I love all of the Metroparks! The bike trail, whitewater play feature, and lagoon make Eastwood park my favorite. For yoga, I enjoy practicing with Ranjani Powers at Yoga XTC on First Street. As for food, you really can’t go wrong in Dayton. The Oregon District is probably my favorite, as there are lots of vegetarian and vegan friendly restaurants.