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Celebrating International Yoga Day with Ally Vispo & Emma Barfield

The International Day of Yoga has been celebrated annually on the 21st of June since 2015. Yoga is a group of ancient physical, mental and spiritual practices that originated in India. We believe yoga practise is a great form of self-care and we know that many of you love burning our candles while practising it at home.


Today, we'd like to introduce you to Ally and Emma, two great yogis and great friends of ELM RD., who will be sharing with us how yoga has become a key part of their self-care rituals.


ALLY VISPO

Barcelona, Spain

Favourite ELM RD. Scent: Sueños

www.viamalama.com

Ally is a writer and sustainability thought-leader, currently residing in Barcelona. ​​She moved to Spain after almost a decade living and working in London in the e-commerce and luxury fashion industry. In 2014, after experiencing a series of very tough personal situations, she decided to completely change her lifestyle. She started eating healthier and soon became vegan. She also trained in yoga and started studying nutritional therapy, mindfulness and Ayurveda. These changes in lifestyle led Ally to enter the Zero Waste world (a lifestyle that she has adopted since 2015-16) and learn about sustainability, ethics and the well-being of people and animals in a deeper way. In 2019, she completed her yoga teacher training (Hatha Vinyasa), something that she had wanted to do for many years!


How long have you been practising yoga, and how would you describe your preferred practice style?


I have been practising yoga since 2014, almost daily, and my preferred style is either Dharma (my favourite by far, I love a devotional practice) and Vinyasa, although I quite like Jivamukti too. I like mixing it up with Yin and Restorative too!


What does your typical daily routine look like? What non-negotiable rituals do you practice both on and off the mat?


There needs to be a yoga practice somewhere - for me, it’s about body and soul and my daily practice is non-negotiable. I always plan my day in a way that I can practice at least for 1-3 hours. My mornings usually involve yoga, meditation, work, a healthy breakfast, and hanging out with my 7-month-old kid. But the first thing I currently do as soon as I get up is having a cup of freshly brewed coffee and tending to my plants! I have a lovely urban jungle on my terrace and I find it so relaxing. A great way to start my day!


Yoga has an extensive and well-documented array of mental and physical benefits. What is the most noticeable way in which yoga has enriched your life, personally? 


Yoga has helped me to know myself better, discover who I really am and what I am here (on Earth) to do. It has taught me to see what’s really important in life, and to be grateful for every single second I can spend on Earth. But mostly, it has shown me that I should do no harm but take no shit either! Respect towards myself and others, mainly. 


"Yoga has helped me to know myself better, discover who I really am and what I am here (on Earth) to do."



What general advice would you give to those who are just getting started with yoga and may not have a lot of props, or a lot of time to practice long sequences?


The most difficult part is getting to the mat. Even if you have 5 minutes, I can assure you it WILL make a difference. And if you don’t have any props, don’t worry! Be creative and use books instead of blocks, a scarf instead of a yoga strap… you don’t really need much to practise yoga, just the willingness to do so. If you can breathe, you can practice!


How can yoga help with wellbeing in the current climate specifically? 


Yoga helps us to move stagnant energy, stretching the muscles and oxygenating the body. It is extremely important that we practise daily and make it a habit - only then we will be able to feel all the benefits from our practice. I think that lots of jobs will be done from home or remotely from now on too, and that means more time just sitting at home, so it is even more important to tend to our body and find the time to stretch and move it to make sure we keep it healthy!


Do you have any tips for practising at home?


Find a safe space and make it your own. Put on a candle, burn some incense, use your favourite essential oil roll-on or drops, make it a thing. Also, invest in a good yoga mat and take care of it so it can last a long time. 


You can find Ally on Instagram as @ally_viamalama


EMMA BARFIELD

Gloucester, United Kingdom

Favourite ELM RD. Scent: Intimacy

www.emmabarfield.com

www.maiamoon.co.uk


Emma is a yoga teacher and spiritual mentor. She works a lot with feminine energy and facilitates healing retreats and events around the world. Emma started this journey with an intention focused on the breath; to improve her lung capacity and alleviate asthma symptoms. She says that the more she studies, grows and evolves with her practice, the more humbled she is to the magnitude of what this ancient practice is able to offer. Simply put, Emma is spreading the message that yoga has the power to make the ordinary extraordinary and gives us the chance to connect to our own innate inner wisdom.


How long have you been practising yoga, and how would you describe your preferred practice style?


I have been practising yoga for around twelve years now and teaching for the last five. My practice has changed so much over the years and evolves as I do, at the moment I practise Hatha and I also adore the magic of Ayurveda (the sister science to yoga), and delving into this ancient wisdom teaches that, of course, our practice will change as we will require different techniques and practices to maintain balance depending on what is happening for us on any given day or time in our lives.


What does your typical daily routine look like? What non-negotiable rituals do you practice both on and off the mat?


As I am self-employed and tend to work around the clock without much of a schedule of set working days and hours, my practice definitely changes week-in, week-out. During this period - particularly where I have sometimes experienced moments of overwhelm because my entire business had to be adapted (no more in-person classes, retreats and events) - I have crafted out extra time in my evenings to wind down and tune out of work entirely. I have also now gifted myself regular 48-hour digital detoxes where I am not on my phone at all, and that in itself, I find is more therapeutic than an entire spa day! My regular non-negotiables are simple, slow evenings -limited exposure to blue light from our devices (blue blocker glasses are amazing), SLEEP, and plenty of wholesome food and lots of water daily. I'm also a huge essential oil lover, so spend time with my natural products, diffusers and candles to really anchor me into a space of 'me time'.


Yoga has an extensive and well-documented array of mental and physical benefits. What is the most noticeable way in which yoga has enriched your life, personally? 


Yoga, in short, has absolutely changed my life. It truly is a map for navigating our internal landscapes, and of course, when our inner world is enriched, vibrant and balanced, it is reflected in our outer world too. I simply don't remember life before Yoga, as I started so long ago. I have always been incredibly fiery, and without balancing my breath, body and mind I certainly notice how my energy and mood swingscan turn 'out of control'. But everything that I now know with yoga and this incredible work, is that we're never broken or out of control, we're simply disconnected and out of balance from our true, unique nature. Yoga is the map to bring us back into a deeper state of balance and harmony with ourselves and, ultimately, the world around us.

"Yoga is the map to bring us back into a deeper state of balance and harmony with ourselves and ultimately our world around us."

What general advice would you give to those who are just getting started with yoga and may not have a lot of props, or a lot of time to practice long sequences?


Just start. Just start. Just start. You have a body and if you're reading this you have your breath too, it's all you need. I always love to share with anyone starting out not to think yoga is about handstands or full-on 90 minute practises. In fact, the ultimate 'goal' of yoga is to be able to sit in meditation -all of the poses that you're working on are simply so that you can take a comfortable seat, breathe and connect. I used to seek out teachers that would teach all of the complicated crazy arm balances - now I'm all about the breath, long savasanas and meditations. Start with 5 minutes, we all have that. Seated with simple, spacious breaths. Your biggest obstacle is your mind; I see students all of the time with all of the gear lose their practice after a few classes. Ultimately, master your mind, master your life. Set yourself realistic and attainable amounts of time for you to start with. For example, if you currently have no practise, it's important not to start with a goal of practicing every single day. The likelihood is that you won’t, and then you’ll feel like you have failed yourself at the first hurdle. Look for a 1%change, each day, each week – that way, you’rebuilding up a sustainable practice.


How can yoga help with wellbeing in the current climate specifically? 


There has never been a more important time than now for us to be collectively maintaining balance and keeping centred. Whenever we feel out of balance and overwhelmed, as I'm sure anyone reading this may have felt recently, it's incredibly hard to support anyone else around us in our immediate communities. We're always creating a ripple effect to those around us; it starts with us. So breathe, for all things conscious!


You can find Emma on Instagram as @emma.barfield