Let me briefly introduce myself. My name is Ellie, I am a fairly new addition to the teaching world of yoga, having completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training in Bali last year. I recently embarked on the journey of self-discovery, merely beginning to scratch the surface of the search for consciousness and eager to share the importance of living in the present.
I have done my fair share of traveling in the past, visiting various South East Asian countries, Australia, New Zealand and Tonga. The first excursion being a typical booze fuelled backpackers venture into the big wide world some nine years ago. A huge amount has changed since then, with age comes maturity and a heightened sense of responsibility. Various other trips opened my eyes to the beauty of nature and wildlife, different cultures and religions, I realized the world is becoming a smaller place in general, and I became more open to new opportunities, such as moving from the UK to Australia.
My current journey, however, has so far been the most life changing and insightful endeavor into myself and my inner struggles, which I have bottled up and pushed aside for far too long. The next paragraphs are just a snippet of the incredible journey I am on now and I hope they will inspire you and others to break old habits and awaken an inner confidence to try something new.
Flipping my world upside down
After seven amazing weeks of island life, teaching yoga classes and becoming a bit more computer literate on Koh Rong Samloem, I said farewell to my island family and have been lucky enough to find myself volunteer teaching at Blue Indigo Yoga, Siem Reap, Cambodia, a little secret garden dedicated to yoga, meditation and the arts. It is here that I had my first taste of aerial yoga, a style of yoga taught in a swing, hammock or silks hanging from the ceiling or a metal or bamboo structure, reminiscent of the amazing aerial acrobats one might find at the circus. With a mixture of nerves and anticipation I walked into the rooftop shala, warmly greeted by Nina (an Ulu Yoga Aerial Teacher training graduate and the teacher of the class). With her shy smile and gentle nature, she calmly instructed us on adjusting the height of our Ulu aerial swings, checked how we were all feeling, whether it was our first time doing aerial yoga and whether we had any injuries or other concerns. The entire group relaxed instantly, making way for positive feelings of excitement and intrigue be ignited. We were guided through the warm up, some stretches and asanas with clear, precise and easy to follow instruction, simultaneously learning to navigate the custom-made Ulu yoga hammocks. It didn’t take long to start trusting Nina’s guidance in using balance, gravity and our own strength to relax into the poses. After some gruelling but ever so important core work, Nina announced we would be coming to the inversion. The moment I had been waiting for. I have been battling the fear of being upside down since my first attempt at a headstand when I attended a mediocrely taught yoga class many years ago and here I was being asked to flip myself upside down, trusting some fabric and carabiner clips to hold my entire body weight and prevent me crashing head first into my mat below.
Making the flip
Deep breath in, hold onto either side of the aerial swing just below shoulder height, lean back, bend the knees bringing the soles of the feet together in front of the hammock or hooking the feet around the sides, release your grip and… complete followed by utter childlike joy.
The feeling of weightlessness, using your hands to propel yourself forward and back, brought back those memories of being on a park swing as a young child, asking to be pushed higher and higher, filled with absolute fearlessness. These were such wonderful emotions of simple, innocent delight.
I was overwhelmed by a fit of giggles, relieved at how natural it felt to be upside down in this way, enjoying the length created in my spine by dangling head first. Unfortunately, not everybody shared my enthusiasm. A few people were still too afraid, some got dizzy or nauseous from the motion and the blood rushing to the head. They were slowly and gently guided to come out of the inversion and to lay flat on their mat in Savasana. Sometimes it takes a few tries to get comfortable and trust your body but of course it is not for everyone. The rest of us continued to sway back and forth until we came to a stop to practice a handstand. Doubts flooded my mind once more, never had I thought I would have enough strength to hold my body weight on my arms and would I be able to orientate my body upside down? We were instructed to place our hands directly below our shoulders, to straighten the elbows, push the ground away from us all while lengthening our legs up the sides of the yoga hammock. I couldn’t really find any way for it to go wrong because some body weight is always held by the swing and by extending the legs straight up the sides there is no way of losing orientation. I was doing a handstand!
Finishing with a flourish
Then to top it off, something possibly even more fun than the inversion itself, is the neatly, controlled backward roll out of the swing into Savasana. Tucking the knees into the chest, gripping the sides of the hammock tightly and toppling backwards, touching the shins and knees down gently onto the mat and relaxing down for the final asana. Finally, close your eyes and just observe your body, how you are feeling?, breathe naturally, feel the mat beneath you, supporting you as you surrender yourself into the ground.
I had two more classes since this first joyous experience at Blue Indigo Yoga in Cambodia and was blessed to be able to join many more over the next three weeks.
Now it’s my Turn
Now I have decided to add an aerial yoga teacher training to my repertoire and have booked an 100 hour Aerial Yoga Teacher Training with Ulu Yoga in Koh Phangan, Thailand. I found out that Nina, who is an Amazing Aerial Yoga teacher, learnt from Eddie at Ulu Yoga in Koh Phangan, so this became my next destination. I can honestly say, that the best decision I have made in a very long time was finding the confidence and taking the leap to complete an Aerial yoga teacher training course.
I have created a new purpose in life, having felt for many years that something was missing, asking myself “Is this really it, is this all life has to offer?”. I am now learning to make time for myself, accepting myself and my flaws learning to believe that I love myself. You may be thinking “Wow, that’s a lot of talking about oneself!” but to truly open your heart to the world you need to find some form of inner peace first. I am still at the beginning of my amazing yoga journey but have managed to push my boundaries, nudging the solid sides of the box I have kept myself in for too long, feeling them give and become more pliable as I open myself up to new possibilities and shift my perspective on life as a whole.
-But enough of the seriousness, find your inner child, try something new today, be brave and go play.-