We recently sat down with Aree Khodai the founder of Aree’s Army to learn more about her and her Army
AREE, WHY DO YOU REFER TO YOUR TEAM AS THE ARMY?
Aree: Think about an army. The army is on the front lines and the forefront of the battle for change. An army is willing to sacrifice. An army is a group of individuals, who function as a highly effective team. Army soldiers are the most dedicated and respected soldiers in the world, they are the embodiment of physical and mental strength; strength of purpose. Army soldiers are prepared to serve their countries and community wherever whenever they are needed. They are dedicated and highly skilled to counter any threat, anytime, anywhere. These are the traits of the team I have the honor to lead and be part of. The individuals on my team are the embodiment of strength, courage and wisdom. The army was just natural.
WHAT IS THE MISSION OF AREES ARMY?
Aree: Our mission is to lead the charge breaking down boundaries, dispelling the stigma and myths of yoga; to open the doors to the experience and benefits of yoga to everyone; to practice freedom of expression in a supportive environment, to make the impossible, possible on and off the yoga mat.
HOW IS THE ARMY COMMUNITY DIFFERENT FROM OTHER YOGA COMMUNITIES?
Aree: In the army we are a team. Everyone is welcome, there are no images to uphold, no stereotypes. That is the beauty and the power of the army. All of us come from such different back grounds: Corporate executives, starving students, actresses, artists, married, divorced, young, old, men, women, straight, gay, rich, poor but on our mats we are all one. With a common purpose and intent. By enlisting the willing mentally, emotionally, physically who leave their egos at the door we have transformed non conformity into a unique tradition of support and trust. From helping each other with poses to careers and beyond. We cheer each other on, celebrating our bonds inside and outside the studio. We truly are a community and we have fun.
I JUST HAVE TO ASK, WHAT EXPECTATIONS DO YOU HAVE OF YOUR ARMY MEMBERS?
Aree: I believe in the power of authenticity. I live my life as authentically as I can. So yes, I expect students to be real. Show up fully and be ready to work. I am less focused on the results but I expect everyone to give their all, all the time. And to focus on your truth and how it can set you free! Last, you must be willing to laugh and have fun.
WHAT DOES YOGA MEAN TO YOU?
Aree: I was always bound to tradition, pleasing everything and everyone else and I lost sight of what pleased me. It was practicing yoga that I got back in touch with myself and found happiness and peace.
CAN YOU EXPAND ON THAT A LITTLE MORE?
Aree: Practicing yoga forced me to be present. It allowed me to let my mind go and purely focus on my body, spirit and breath. On the mat in the moment, I am free, liberated, at peace and fulfilled. I found that I left practice happier, physically and mentally; open and strong. The energy of class shifted into my life. I began creating a better life, open to receiving, being healthier, eating better, taking time for myself, versus always focusing on others. I loved the physical and mental challenge, the comradery, and the achievements, large and small, inside and outside of my practice. Yoga became my passion.