This life isn't for everybody...

this life isn’t for everybody…

It’s for those who are ready to build a life they don’t have to run away from. Those who forget they have a choice. Those who might think they’re lost, and those who don’t feel seen. I’m here to tell you that there is another way.

It’s not easy. It requires dedication and commitment. It means showing up every day, even when you don’t feel like it. It means facing your fears and embracing your weaknesses. It means making the choice to be happy, no matter what life throws at you.

But it’s so worth it.

Because when you step into your power, when you become the creator of your own life, there’s nothing you can’t do. You become unstoppable. You become free. You become the one who decides how your story will go. So if you’re ready to write a new chapter in your book, if you’re ready to choose yourself, then I invite you to come on this journey with me. Do one thing for your body, one thing for your mind, one thing for your soul.

It’s not easy to build a life you don’t want to escape from. Be brave enough to take the first step with me and see where it takes you.

Ally Hughes

Hi, I’m Ally.

As I sit down to write an “about me” for my own website, I can’t help but think of the Greek philosopher who famously said, “the most difficult thing in life is to know yourself.”

The truth is, I didn’t always know myself. I first had to find myself. Yoga helped me do that.

I’ve seen darkness and light, both in myself and in others. My heart has swelled with intense joys and equally intense sorrows in this thing called life. And I know the unbridled joy and searing pain that comes with finding — and losing — true love.
But it wasn’t until I found yoga that I was able to really find myself. Yoga has given me perspective and the ability to choose. It’s taught me I can be strong while remaining soft, confident while remaining humble, and to remain steady on my feet while riding the ebb and flow of life.

My journey began in 2005

I moved constantly growing up. My parents were in the event and entertainment business. I grew up hanging out backstage at concerts, and we relocated nearly a dozen times before I graduated. While this life gave me a sense of adventure, a nomadic spirit, and a fantastic cultural experience, the lack of solid roots made it impossible to be grounded.

So in 2005, looking for a change, an answer, a home, I booked a one-way ticket to the Big Island of Hawaii. While on that wonderful, magical island, I met Norman Allen and he offered to “train” me. I had no idea what he was talking about, but I was there in search of something different and decided to go along with it anyway. It quickly became apparent that Norman knew something that I didn’t. And so, every morning at 5 am, I took the bus, met up with Norman, and practiced.
It was during those early morning practices that I slowly began to understand what he was trying to teach me.

Yoga became a refuge for me.

During a time of intense personal growth and transformation. I was beginning to unravel some deep-seated wounds and traumas from childhood. Yoga wove the gift of ritual, discipline, and self-love into my life. Again and again, it returned, restored, reset my focus to an immoveable center, and gave me the ability to find ground in a groundless world.

I spent five years in Hawaii, avoiding responsibility, studying yoga, partying on the beach, and enjoying my 20s. Then, I found myself as a single mother, living in a tourist town, amidst an economic fallout. I moved to Maryland to be closer to family and carried a lot of baggage with me — postpartum depression, anger, resentment, abandonment issues… and probably an identity crisis, too.

I continued to turn toward my personal yoga practice.

After all, yoga had offered me techniques to stay grounded, to deal with the lousy hand life sometimes deals you. But as much as I’d love to tell you I was killing it — I still hadn’t figured out how to put these techniques into practice in everyday life, yet.

I drank, a lot. I drank until I hit rock bottom and then my best friend Jasmin died suddenly and tragically. Her tragic loss made me realize I needed to get sober — that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. That not only was I a prisoner of my own mind but I was also the jailer. I had been holding the key to my freedom the whole time. It wasn’t until I got sober in 2012 that I realized I could rewrite my story. You know, that story we tell ourselves and tell others. I realized I no longer had to be defined by it. Once again yoga found me both broken and searching and yet, somehow completely unaware of my own condition.

Suddenly, moving my body and connecting with my breath felt more important than ever. It was like yoga was giving me a chance to start over, to find some sense of peace and calm in the midst of all the chaos.

Everything changed

That’s when everything changed.

I realized I had to do better, and live for something greater. If I continued to do the same thing I would continuously get the same results. You see, we’re all intimately connected through this beautiful intricate tapestry. And I had choices to unravel suffering. I could sit and face my pain, guilt, shame, fear, remorse, and sadness and hold it with kindness. I could make a daily decision to love myself and others and be grateful for what I had and all I had experienced.

Armed with the loving support of the recovery community and the tools of yoga, I got sober and my entire world changed.

I began to love myself again.

Opportunities arose for me to help others. I had finally figured out how to integrate the techniques I had learned on the yoga mat into my daily life. I was creating change within myself and then sharing what I had learned with others. I’ve learned how to break through barriers of fear and limiting thoughts by incorporating different yoga, breath work, meditations, and alternative practice.

Little did I know just how much I would put these techniques to the test. It was instantly clear Sean and I were meant to be together. By the time we met, we had both seen rock bottom, so the only place for us to go together was up. When I met him I finally felt truly loved. I had found a love where I could embrace all of him, all of me, and all of the scars, the baggage, and the storage unit full of stuff that came with us. Our love sparked our spirit, and we brought out the best qualities in each other.

There’s a line in one of his songs that says, “been there, done that, and you have, too. Together we find new things that we can do. I’m with you.” We had both had lived such full lives before we met. Falling in love only enriched our lives even more.

We shared the same passion for travel and adventure, and we quickly began planning trips to all corners of the globe. We visited 12 countries together and drove cross-country in an old converted school bus. Our love ignited a wanderlust in us, and we knew that we could do anything, go anywhere, and no matter where we were, we would always find home. Sean was my best friend, my partner in crime, and the love of my life.

In an instant, my whole world shattered

suddenly Sean died on the way home from work

Sean died suddenly on the way home from work in 2020. In an instant, my whole world shattered, heart ripped open, hopes, dreams, and aspirations — poof gone, and there I was with the horror of facing another day.

I Practiced

Sean’s death was traumatic, the grief was visceral. If 16 years of studying yoga and somatic trauma therapy taught me anything, it’s that grief and trauma change you physiologically. It changes your brain chemistry and leaves you in a heightened state of survival. Sean’s death had to be processed on a cellular level.

The only thing I could do was show up on my mat so I could show up in life.

I practiced.

I practiced asana to reconcile an unreal reality. I practiced pranayama for Sean and his beautiful life that was taken too soon. I practiced steadying my mind so I could be present for our kids who were facing their worst nightmares, too.
Slowly I built back up the primary practice. I knew in that instance I had to put my oxygen mask on first, so to speak. Had I learned anything and was it applicable to this scenario? There’s no word for what it’s like to have the love of your life ripped away by death.

It’s hard to explain how yoga helps you unravel the pain, heartache, and uncertainty and allows you to move forward even if it’s one breath at a time. It hasn’t been easy, I don’t do it perfectly, and I’m not completely on the other side of this. But yoga, once again, is my life support and navigation system. I’m not just a teacher, I’m a student first.

To be honest, I’m still figuring out this new chapter of life after loss. I’m still deep in healing. I’m relying heavily on the wisdom and skills my yoga teachers and mentors passed down to me.

It's my lifestyle

This isn’t a job or a hobby for me. It’s a lifestyle.

I am a co-Founder of Renegade Retreats Yoga Studio and the Director of Education and International Retreats. In my classes, I draw on a variety of yoga traditions, having studied Mysore Ashtanga under Norman Allen. I used my experience with a lifetime of traveling and a background in hospitality to develop our yoga retreats.

I’ve always traveled. It brings me comfort. It reminds me of the fragility and uncertainty of life. So this is how I travel — I seek out the best local spots for food, yoga practice, alternative holistic traditions, cultural experiences in arts, music, and adventure. I live for this sort of exploration not only to destinations but into the depths of our souls. From this, I discovered that integrating all this together offers a magical recipe for transformation — our yoga retreats — so that you enrich and enhance your life. Creating a life that we don’t have to escape from, but gain perspective and momentum to move forward with vigor, passion, and enthusiasm.

My goal is to create a practice that is both challenging and accessible, blending the hard and soft aspects of yoga. I also emphasize the importance of breathwork and meditation, two practices that can help to calm the mind and reduce stress. Ultimately, my goal is to encourage you to dive deeper — finding strength, courage, and the ability to have fun. To love yourself and to love life.
I have dedicated more than 15 years to the practice of yoga and have been leading domestic and international yoga retreats, teacher trainings, workshops, and classes for over 10 years. And, the longer I teach the more I realize that my “job” is simply to hold space for others. So they can grow, find peace, and discover what lights up their life.

I’ve taught over 5,000 hours in Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Rocket Ashtanga, Yin, and Trauma-Informed yoga teacher trainings, workshops, and classes. I hold accreditation as a 200-hour Teacher Training School through Yoga Alliance.

I can teach you how to find your way home.

Starting over is hard. Change is not easy. Being outside your comfort zone is challenging. I’ll teach you how to move forward, surrender to uncertainty, and fall in love with life again!

It takes time to rearrange the mosaic of your life after it’s been shattered. But imagine the art you could create out of your life by continuing to put one foot in front of the other and walk through fear, doubt, insecurity, and limitation. This is where we find our purpose.

It’s easier to smile and find joy when everything goes as planned, but harder to remain grounded amidst challenging situations or emotional turmoil. Difficult postures train the mind to be steady in the face of change and uncertainty.
It’s natural to want to lash out or escape when we’re hurt or uncomfortable, but what would happen if we just surrender, and trust the process?

I can teach you how to find your way forward

Just think about how many times things didn’t work out the way you wanted only to discover that something even greater than you imagined was waiting for you. Yoga is a path of remembering, a way for us to heal and return home to ourselves, and an immovable center, a place where we can be with our experiences and know we are whole and worthy of all the love we seek.

I can teach you how to find your way forward. How to find your way home.

Yoga does not promise a life without hardship, struggle, sorrow, or pain. Rather, it gives you the tools to face these experiences with courage, grace, and resilience. And ever since I learned it, Yoga has been a constant source of joy and healing in my life.

Let me share these tools with you. Do one thing for your body, one thing for your mind, one thing for your soul.

Be brave enough to take the first step with me.