16 July 2024
Interviews Lifestyle Xpat Services

“Elli: Illuminating Lives Through Yellow Your Spirit Yoga”

A few days ago I had the pleasure of meeting Elli, a yoga teacher whose smile and vibrant energy can captivate anyone in her presence. As we delved into our conversation , it became clear that Elli truly believes in the transformative power of yoga.

Ellie’s passion for yoga is palpable as she describes yoga as more than just a physical practice. To her, it is a way that encompasses, not only the physical postures, but also mindfulness, breath work, and self-reflection. She believes that by approaching yoga with an open heart and mind, individuals can tap into their inner strength and discover a sense of peace and harmony within themselves.

Meet Elli

When I started truly practicing yoga, my mind became quiet and I became more aware of subtle things.

Elli

Tell us a few things about yourself. How did you first become interested in practicing yoga? Was there something specific that sparked your passion?

Hello! I am Elli. I’m Greek and grew up in Chicago until I moved to Greece in 2017. I teach yoga to private students, groups, companies and I hold retreats and wellness events and I have recently started a YouTube yoga channel. 

Greece has special light that shines from the Sun. I love the ancient energy and the beautiful chaos that Greece offers every single day!

My yoga journey began in 1999, when I walked into a yoga class with, how do I say politely, some very old women? Ha! They were mostly stretching and I don’t remember any other yogic discussions taking place. I stayed for a while but eventually it dwindled. Then in 2005 I began practicing very regularly and in 2010 I couldn’t stop! 

When I started truly practicing yoga, my mind became quiet and I became more aware of subtle things. The entire hour I would practice in class I wasn’t anywhere else but there with myself. The energy in the yoga room felt so special to me. I felt so good after that I needed to find out more about why I felt that way. So I continued, at it never ended!

What kind of yoga are you teaching, is it for all ages?

In the studio classes, I mainly teach Vinyasa Yoga, which has a breath to movement component known as flow. In Vinyasa, you align and then initiate movement from the breath. The practice can be slow or dynamic depending on the students. I offer many modifications so that all can participate.

I also teach some companies “office yoga” in a chair. It’s a chair yoga snack! We practice 15 minutes, it’s acceptable for every age that exists, and it’s great because it’s proven to help with their productivity and physical ailments so I’m happy to do it! 

In my private lessons I teach yoga from the path known as Raja Yoga. There are ethical and moral internal and external practices we discuss in order to prepare the student for the physical part, the breath, the meditation, and so on. Yoga is extremely holistic and the system is an integral part for anyone truly looking to change and transform into their best self. My private lessons are also for all ages because there are physical modifications for all ages, body types, ailments, etc…and that’s just for the physical part. There are many components to yoga! 

In todays fast paced world, how do you believe yoga can benefit individuals both physically and mentally?

In today’s world, yoga benefits everyone by showing them what awareness is and how to cultivate it. When fast-paced life kicks in over and over again, most people have no awareness when they are physically exhausted and need to slow down (they are running on adrenaline and caffeine), what they are putting (or forgetting to put) into their bodies (fast snacks and food, no food, or stimulants that are supposed to help relax them) and how to sit with themselves, in silence, with nothing to do, hear, see, or say. (no television, laptops, social media, phone calls)

We are losing touch with presence, awareness, and ourselves. It’s not cliche, it’s really happening. 

On a physical and mental level (let me add emotional level to that as well) yoga helps because it’s holistic. One affects the other. I can talk about this all day, but I’ll try and keep it simple.

By simply learning how to breathe and actually being conscious of doing it, you will literally feel less stiff because your diaphragm will expand and allow more oxygen into your lungs, then your bloodstream, then muscles! Breathing calms your mind. From a calm mind you can skillfully approach everything. 

So in a fast-paced lifestyle whether its physically fast-paced or mentally, do yourself a favor and learn how to breath. 

Yoga teaches you how be aware, how to treat yourself in a kind way internally and externally, how to find beauty in silence, how to replenish and speak to your inner-self by just breathing, how to see yourself in everything you see. It’s not magic, but it feels magical. 

Would you like to share with us an example of how your teaching has positively impacted the life of a student?

Yes! I’ve recently discussed this with some of my students and it brings great joy to me! It feels as though I haven’t really done anything except given them the information because they are the ones that show up to their practice and put the work into motion, you know? 

I want to give so many examples, but not to show it’s because of me, to show that through the practice of yoga there can be so much beautiful growth! I’ll share an example of patience and enjoying the journey…

On a physical level, one student was on a journey to learn headstand. When she finally got it, fully on her own, I remember exactly how she patiently came down from headstand and how she looked at me, how we looked at each other. In that moment, she realized that the journey was indeed the practice, not the outcome. Because she was eager to hurry up and just get upside down, every session we discussed patience, consistency, discipline, surrender, kindness towards her self and her ego. There were days I said no to her trying one more time and days that she felt frustrated. She needed to slow down and follow the process in order to enjoy and celebrate the moments along the way. This was a life lesson.

Some people say that yoga is a mindset, not a daily routine exercise, what is your opinion?

I say it is a holistic practice that takes conscious effort and awareness. It is a constant commitment (which is daily) to scrutinize every single action you make or every thought and emotion that you have. Looking at a candle flame in silence is yoga. Taking your physical practice and relating it to daily life is yoga. Seeing yourself in everything you see is yoga. Having discipline is yoga. Asking yourself why you are feeling a certain way and waiting to hear the answer is yoga. 

The physical practice, for me, is an added bonus. The physical practice was created much later so that yogis can literally sit for hours in meditation.

What unique approach or style do you bring to your classes?

I believe my personal style of teaching keeps evolving the more I learn BUT I have been told that I teach from a very approachable and relatable space. I teach what I know and what I have put into practice for myself. I don’t’ know how to teach what I don’t know. I’m pretty passionate from the heart when I teach because I believe in the journey of yoga and all that can be scrutinized, learned, and revealed through the mental and physical practice. I truly know that all will benefit. 

How did you come up with the name yellow your spirit, what does it represent?

It came to me pretty quickly. I wanted to start a yoga blog so I could write about yogic stuff and share it with people and also to have a place online where people can find me when they were searching for yoga in Athens. Back in Chicago, when I would arrive to work, I frequently chose a yellow mug to have my coffee. When someone would ask me why I always chose the yellow mug, I would nonchalantly say, “because yellow is the color of happiness.” As if everyone should already know that! Yellow is also the color of the Manipura Chakra, the Solar Plexus, and it’s element is fire. This energy, when aligned, is our power center, our confidence, and the sense of ‘I Can.’ I thought it would be nice if everyone could put some yellow in their spirit. Voila!

Many people find comfort and a sense of belonging in their yoga practice. As a yoga teacher, what elements do you incorporate into your teachings to create the feeling of “home away from home”?

I love this one! First of all, home is with you every where you go. Close your eyes if you need to and you are home. Home is your truest spark of light inside and it is in every warm, loving breath you give yourself.

When I teach I want to create a really friendly, welcoming, safe environment whether it be in the atmosphere (music, lighting), in a smile, by listening, sharing, and of course hugging. Although they aren’t needed to practice yoga, I love all the smells (candles, incense, essential oils, and I make my own sprays!)

I encourage nourishment, kindness, and gratitude always. Consistency and being on time is important to me and that is an element that people forget can create a sense of safety and comfort for themselves and others. 

I also do this thing when students are in a ball-like pose (with the knees into the chest and the forehead towards the knees), where I tell them to give themselves a hug and two little kisses on each knee. If we aren’t kind to ourselves and can’t find love for ourselves then how can we feel at home? Some people get emotional just from this part. 

When we practice yoga, we might not always realize it, but we show up to return home because we are human, and we simply forget that we are already there every moment of every day.

You can subscribe Elli’s you tube channel here https://youtu.be/kZ4O6jiTYJA

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