Facilitator Interview: Alex Gandy
Who are you…really?
Really…I am the seamless merging between Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation and Liz Lemon from 30 Rock. I kind of wish I could say that I was that mix of Amy and Tina themselves, but that is just not the case, which is fine; I just need to laugh due to their brilliance, not be them! But I do house the dogged commitment (over-commitment) and boundless energy to do and create and think and act of Leslie, and my hair is so big that I have the Liz trait of getting plenty of things, food included, stuck in there because I just have a lot of work to do like Liz and no time for something so trivial as my silly hair! I apply all of this Leslie/Liz life force to my soul’s purpose, what I am and who I am – I am a teacher. I can say with 100% certainty that I was born to be a teacher and am lucky that I listened to myself before almost making the mistake of avoiding my true path. I taught high school kids for six years, middle school for two, and will head back to high school in the fall – and I will never stop teaching. Every day working with kids is exhausting, maddening, too slow for my fast, “let’s make all the changes right now” personality. Every day working with kids is heartbreaking in some sense; most of them should not have to go through the pain they do. But every single day is an honor. Watching kids’ gears turn inside their heads as they learn – there is absolutely nothing more beautiful than the sight of it. And then there’s the sound of them articulating it once they have it – it’s music! I feel the same when I teach yoga, honored and in awe of the beauty and music of people coming to an understanding of themselves, their bodies, and their relationship with the world on their mats. I tell my kids this every year, so I should probably put it out there in case the future leader of our country is reading this by chance. I plan on becoming Secretary of Education, and when I am, you better bet yoga and ELM are coming with me – it will be the game changer we all need! Also, I dream big – just in case that wasn’t clear. I hope every person I come into contact with – students, friends, strangers – can feel that and will dream their dreams big, too. That’s what we need in this world!
Tell us your finding ELM story
In January 2015, I had just ended five months of overlapping the end of my 200hr yoga teacher training with the beginning of my 300hr. I would teach my high school kids from Monday morning to Friday afternoon and head straight to the studio to train from Friday afternoon to Sunday evening, and then I’d start it all again Monday morning. I was pretty exhausted! I still had trainings packed into the beginning of the year, but I had one weekend off – I thought. I had heard for years about ELM and was told it was definitely something I needed to be part of. The weekend of the facilitator training was my one off weekend. Looking back, I think it was fate; I knew I had to do it if the timing was aligned so perfectly. My ELM training weekend cracked open the last piece of my shell that had been slowly breaking apart through all of my yoga teacher training. It helped me find the full version of myself and helped me solidify my purpose. The commitment I wrote to myself during my first workshop that Friday night in January was all about using my voice. As fate will have it, again, I hit a time in my job when my voice was being taken from me – the exact weekend I was doing my very first Inner Beauty Shop. Seeing that first set of 12 year olds open up and find themselves through this work gave me courage to stand by my commitment to myself and leave a situation that was stripping me away from me. Two years of feeling the impact of Embody Love within myself has changed me for the better, and seeing that impact on the faces of middle school girls has been an absolute honor. I am beyond grateful that ELM is part of my story.
How do you EMBODY LOVE?
I am me. I walk into a room as myself and leave as myself, regardless of anything else. I am around young men and women too much each and every day to do any different. I want them to know that you can love and stand in every bit of yourself, the strong and the weak, the good and the bad. My hope is that in embodying myself in this way, it can spread, and others will feel confident to be themselves through and through as well. When you can love yourself, you can love others, and that circle never ends. Hopefully I do something every day to extend that circle of love even further out into the world!
What contribution are you making to the world?
As I said, I am a teacher. A teacher in nearly every role I take on. I stand in front of people to teach, but in reality, I teach to stand BY people, to stand WITH them to cheer them on and help them succeed on their path, whatever that is. I contribute knowledge and creative, off-the-wall lesson plans, shoulders to cry on and advice for cutting college essays to that precise 500 words, cues for Warrior II and alternate nostril breathing and themes to take from the mat to the sidewalk, my voice to causes and people who need it and my energy and time whenever and wherever I can. I contribute an overabundance of passion and commitment to everything I do, and, though that passion may annoy some, it’s what will allow me to create positive change in the world (you know, when I am Secretary of Education!). Most importantly, I contribute my heart – I send it out and always get more in return. The world is a beautiful place like that.
Alex began practicing yoga in August of 2009, the same time she began teaching high school English. After completing her RYT-500 certification, she completed RCYT with yogees yoga 4 kids! In 2016, she received a Trauma Informed Yoga Therapy certification through Sundara Yoga Therapy to lead Overcoming Anxiety workshops for all populations in need. She currently practices at The Mat in Richardson, TX.