Lewiston, ME - Frank Ashton has been practicing yoga for over twenty years, but has, as of late, let his body go. His belly has grown significantly over the last year and students are silently questioning whether he is up to the task of teaching yoga.
"I know what the look students have been giving me lately means," said Ashton, "they see me and think 'you're the yoga teacher?' What they don't know is that yoga has nothing to do with my belly; it has to do with connecting your mind to your body, and listening to your body. My practice has actually never been stronger."
"He's definitely listening to his body," said student Kelly Barnes.
Ashton is growing weary of walking into class only to be met with a room full of raised eyebrows when he greets everyone. When he tells them to go into downward dog he can see the students look at each other with an "if you say so" expression.
The yoga studio where Ashton works has started to transition him into other areas of teaching. Rather than teach the vigorous vinyasa flow class he's known for he is now leading a workshop on breathing and meditation.
"We just feel, for the time being, it would be best if Frank was teaching in a seated position," said studio owner, Ashley Collins.
"First it's the breathing workshops, then it's 'Frank, maybe you should take a few weeks off'," Ashton told us over a Cinnabon at a highway rest stop. "I know how this works and I'm not going to take it standing up." We corrected him on the expression ["not going to take it sitting down"] but he said he wasn't ready to make that commitment just yet.