During lockdown a good friend recommended to me I try Emily Williams' online yoga classes. So I did! Emily’s classes not only provided routine, but a connection with other yogis around the world at a time when life felt very confined. Not only that, but I felt my strength grow, both physically and mentally.
Since then, I have had the pleasure of collaborating with Emily on a couple of P & P projects; as well as continuing to be inspired by Emily’s enthusiasm and grounding approach to yoga. It was great to find out more about Emily’s path to yoga, as well about the benefits of yoga for our wellbeing.
The first question I have to ask is, how did yoga come into your life?
Good question! When I first experienced Yoga I was at University, but I'll be honest, at that point it didn't really resonate with me! I kept falling asleep in Savasana, and didn't really understand what was going on!
Fast forward a few years to when I was living out in the mountains for my first Summer. I wasn't completely sure what I was going to do with my time (I snowboarded in the Winter, but wasn't familiar with Summer out here!), so I thought I'd try Yoga again! I started with an online challenge, 30 days of yoga, and I fell in love with it!
It opened parts of me I didn't know existed. It broke me down, and at the same time, lifted me up. I was hooked!
And how did this path lead you to become a full-time yoga teacher living in the French Alps?
After that Summer I moved to New Zealand and was lucky enough to land in Queenstown, which is like a Yoga mecca in the southern hemisphere. I worked at lululemon and one of the perks was they covered your Yoga classes in the community, so I got to practice with some of the best teachers out there! After that I travelled to India where I took an intensive Yoga Teacher Training in the Himalayas - and the rest, as they say, is history!
Your online yoga offering of live stream classes and an archive of recorded yoga sessions, has allowed you to connect and teach yoga to students around the world. Is this an area where you would have grown your business without the pandemic? And how to manage the challenges of showing up online and in person now that the world has opened up again?
It was two days into the pandemic and lock down, which here in France was strict, and I knew I had to keep teaching! Not only was it my livelihood, but teaching for me is a practice in itself. It's where I feel grounded.
It took me back to my roots of that first Summer, practicing yoga online on my balcony in France, and so I went for it and ran my first 21 days of Yoga challenge! From there it just snowballed! I LOVE our online community - it feels like coming home each time I see all the familiar faces of the community pop up! It has continued to ebb and flow over the last few years, and more recently I built the Yoga Archive as an on-demand offering, making it more flexible!
When the World opened back up, I went back to teaching studio classes as well. It's a really nice balance being able to see people in person and online. They're different experiences that each hold their own weight! I love that I'm part of a worldwide community, as well as a local one.
What do you feel a regular yoga practice can bring to people's everyday wellbeing?
When you've been practicing Yoga for a certain amount of time, you almost forget what it was like without it. The benefits seep into your body, your mind, your life - they are all encompassing! I recently spoke to the online community about how the practice shifts almost daily. Sometimes you show up to the mat and you just want to move your body - and that's fine. And other times you show up to the mat, and you have a built-up backlog of uncomfortable stuff you need to release - and that's fine too. So I guess it depends on what you need, as to what you're going to get out of it.
Buttt, if I was to name a few... feeling comfort within your body, strength - physically (hell yes) and mentally, increased mobility, decreased anxiety, the ability to perceive situations through a different lens, increased circulation of blood and lymph, the power of routine and showing up for yourself, mindfulness, total relaxation, and enhanced energy!
And what advice would you give to someone wanting to integrate yoga into their (already busy) life?
Carve out the time. For most people, there are always pockets of time that we could use differently. Whether it's scrolling on social media or being busy for the sake of being busy (disclaimer: I'm really good at this!). Why not fill that time with something that in turn is going to inspire you, and make you feel better within yourself?
I recommend beginning small. I think we can often fall into the trap of "all or nothing"! Figure out what you're going to be able to sustain.
Will it be one livestream class a week? Maybe it's one live class that is scheduled in, and then a second on-demand class that fits into your own time? Or a class every other day? Whatever you think is going to work, stick to it. You have to build a routine to form a good habit!
Finally, as a yoga teacher you are very giving with your energy, as well as being in the position of absorbing the emotional energy of your students, how do you conserve, or create boundaries, around keeping energy for your own needs?
It's hard! Over the years I've become infinitely better at it. Working for myself, it's challenging to switch off. And when you love what you do, and the people you teach, it's even harder! But for me to be able to show up fully for the community, I have to recognise the moments in which I need to step back.
I have specific time off each week to re-fuel. I listen to my body, and try to differentiate between when I'm lacking in energy from doing too much and need rest, or feeling uninspired from not doing enough of what fills me up and brings me joy! I don't think there's a quick fix. It's all a practice! Taking time to assess when you need to change things up, and learning about your own inner world, and how you function. It's also pretty interesting watching as it changes over the years, and 100% worthwhile spending time getting to know yourself better!
But all of this is Yoga, isn't it? Awareness of the self, and finding the middle path, enabling you to live a full life. I hope this is the essence of what I bring to the mat!
Thank you so much for your time Emily, and if you would like to find out more about Emily’s yoga offering then you can head to her website.
Emily has also created the 'Phoenix' yoga flow for the P & P Community, to be used as part of an evening bathing or showering ritual.