Ellen Manifest Interview Natures Relief

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Interview with Ellen from Manifest Yoga Studio

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About Ellen

Ellen is the co-owner of the incredible Manifest yoga studio. Ellen has been practicing yoga since 2013 and also has a background in plant-based nutrition.

Like her mom, Niki, Ellen also subscribes to a holistic lifestyle and believes strongly in the mind-body connection.

We were lucky enough to ask Ellen a few questions about her business and lifestyle.

When did you feel a shift in focus to holistic health?

In about 2013 my mental and physical health was at a low point. My body had become hyperallergic and my self-esteem and my relationship to food was impacting my overall wellbeing. My mum had always brought us up with a holistic approach to health and she suggested I started yoga. I had dabbled into things like reiki and homeopathy, but starting yoga was the biggest shift in terms of my lifestyle. I was desperate and had nothing to lose. A few years later I studied plant-based nutrition, completely changed how I ate and supported my body’s natural ability to heal itself. Looking at my entire being as one interlinked system – from my thoughts, to food and daily routines is what genuinely changed my health, “whole”istic health.


How would you suggest a holistic lifestyle would contribute to mental health?

They are one in the same. The state of your body affects the state of your mind and the state of your mind impacts your body. No parts of our being can be separate and so a holistic lifestyle would have to include the subtler bodies, like our mental body. A holistic lifestyle would then completely change and transform mental health.

Do you have a specific morning or evening routine and how do they benefit you?

In modern day life it’s hard to be consistent, my schedule has been changing all the time recently but when I can, a morning meditation, card reading, and some journaling will change the way I react to the day I have and over time I have seen how it has totally changed me (a sadhana practice). My evening routine would honestly just be any kind of winding down and time out – more the indulgent self-care kind of stuff. The morning grounds and connects me, the evening routine feels more like it fills my cup. Both are important.

What do you think about the value of setting intentions both on and off of your mat?

Oh it’s so huge. From intentions as to why you’re on your mat in the first place right down to stepping your foot forward with full intention both shift how the practice is for you internally. Off your mat, even though our intentions may not always be fully seen or received, the intention through which we navigate life is the energy behind everything we do. I feel like setting intentions takes something from unconscious to conscious, even that is such a powerful act.

How has yoga impacted your life?

I honestly wouldn’t even know how to word this. The way it continues to impact my life is always changing and never ending, but it has made me a full, authentic, healing and conscious version of myself. It has healed trauma, my relationship to myself, impacted who I am in the world, brought me discover myself in all my layers, given my life meaning and a depth of understanding of life itself and genuinely has changed my capacity to experience presence and so ultimately, joy.

What has been the toughest challenges of yoga for you personally?

I always found meditation the hardest. I did not know how to sit with myself, I was terrified to be alone in my own head (even though it is only ever me in there anyway) and I think I was also just afraid of what I would find, of how deep I would go. Now, meditation is my single most valuable tool and the practice I put first before anything else. Being alone in my own head has gone from being terrifying to the most peaceful place on earth.

What were a few of the challenges that you felt when opening your yoga studio, Manifest and did you overcome them? 

Fear. I was afraid of failing, of not being able to make the rent, of not being good enough – it’s such a huge step to take. Doing it with my mum made me feel like it was possible, I wasn’t in it alone and I have always felt that with her beside me, anything is possible. The minute we opened our doors we have been overwhelmed by the community and the support. Sometimes now I think we actually fear our own potential.

Do you feel pressure to uphold a certain expectation to those who look up to you or may lean on you for strength and if so, how do you handle that? (How do you deal with the limelight?)

Totally. Relationships have taught me that expectation is an invitation for disappointment and so I the only way I have handled it is losing the expectation I placed on myself. I feel the more, real and authentic I can allow myself to be publicly the more impact I would ever have than trying to be a version of myself that I may not be all the time. If I never expect myself to meet everyone’s expectations then I can fully be my human self, unattached to how that may be received.

We understand that you are in business with your mom, what is that relationship like? Has your relationship shifted since opening Manifest? 

Honestly, it feels the same. I have never known not having her as such a huge part of my life and working together has been the most natural, easy thing in the world. All of the parts of the business that I don’t feel is my strength, it’s hers and it’s the same in reverse. She will always be my mum first before anything else and if anything, Manifest has made us closer – we are rowing the same boat.

We researched a few of the most common stereotypes in yoga.

  • Yoga Is Just About Stretching
  • Yoga Is Only for Flexible, Skinny & Young People
  • Yoga Isn’t Manly Enough
  • You Need to Change Your Lifestyle To Do Yoga
  • You Can Be Bad at Yoga
  • Yoga Is 100% Safe

Have you experienced any of these?

All of them! These are very real stereotypes and yoga is very easily perceived as these things and understandably so. I think the biggest misunderstanding is what yoga really is. The more we can teach and take it upon ourselves to learn, the more these stereotypes don’t have a place. I mean, just by learning that the physical practice is one of the 8 limbs of yoga and that it’s so much more than what you think you may look like in down dog, already some of those stereotypes shift.

How do you maintain your energy?

Filling up my cup. It’s the only way. What is exerted and given has to be replenished and I have had to create big boundaries around my cup filling. I am very lucky and grateful that teaching fills my cup, so the energy I give in a class I always feel like I get back two-fold.

Is it difficult for you to practice what you preach?

Sometimes yes. With the things I am still learning. Most of the time though, I only preach what I genuinely practice, not what I feel I should preach.

We believe in the power of mindful consumption and that what you put into your body moulds who we are, including our diet, thoughts and practices. What are your thoughts on this and how do you manage your consumption? 

Totally. The more I know myself, the more I am aware of the way in which the things I consume on all levels impact me. I always try and follow my gut feeling, to listen to my body when it whispers. I know the practices that support me, I know the food that supports my body and I know what is good in general for my wellbeing and health. Sometimes, a big green salad is what is going to serve me most, sometimes the slab of chocolate will genuinely bring me joy – if we are honest with ourselves, we know in any given moment what we need. Even the way you think about your food impacts how you’ll receive it. If I have guilt around eating something I love, then it hasn’t given me anything of what I needed. Thinking is tougher. It is often hard to filter what we think and choose our thoughts. So much of it is engrained patters and fears and that can take years and years to overcome, if ever. But I think the act of even becoming aware of the thought that might not be the thought you want to ‘consume’, you create a space. In that space, you can become mindful of the fact that in order to observe the thought, it is not you and it immediately has less powerful, it’s immediately less all consuming. Something I have started to manage now is my social media consumption. I am aware of spending too much time mindlessly scrolling and if the content I am consuming isn’t teaching me, empowering me or serving me, I unfollow.

Where did your campaign ‘don’t cut yourself short’ come from?

So, the hashtag was “Don’t sell yourself short”. A friend actually thought of the hashtag for me and it was to try and create an awareness around not believing our bodies are enough and living a life organized around the things we wear and the parts of our bodies we expose. As women we live up to an impossible standard of beauty and there is a lot of work being done around changing that. I finally got to a stage in my life where I braved wearing my shorts on a promenade run despite all the cellulite and jiggles. Partly because I cared less what people thought and also, because every time I see a girl embracing a part of herself, it so empowering and uplifting to all women. Being ourselves gives everyone around us the freedom and safety to do the same. We really are all enough. We really are all beautiful. I want women to stop selling themselves short on that.

How do you feel about social media and the pressure it puts on society?

It’s radical. We are glued to this filtered (in more ways than one) app that has created such a standard around how we should dress, how we should look, how much we should work out, the list goes on. I worry mostly for the girls that are growing up with it in their faces all the time. I had a low self-worth without social media, I don’t know how I would have been growing up with it. Even the subtler pressure to post the beautiful sunset, your yoga practice or your Sunday breakfast in bed – how often does social media take away from us being present in those moments?

Do you consider the societal pressures of women today to be something that has an impact on their mental health?

Of course. It’s expectation, the illusion of perfect. I wasn’t born thinking I wasn’t enough, I was taught that. That was the root of my mental health struggles.

How would you suggest overcoming this?

Find women that inspire you in grounded, balanced and deeply impactful ways. If your social media feed is full of beautiful women in bikinis, go and follow some women that are changing how you think, how you view the world, that are positively and bravely shaping our world, women that share humour and joy. There is so much we can be inspired by and a shift from the women we look up to, as well as the women we surround ourselves with in our daily lives.

Have you noticed a shift in your mental health since social media? Positive/ Negative?

Yes. Honestly, both. Social media can have a massive negative impact on me, but that’s where I have learnt to just switch it off. Positive in the sense that there is so much information and helpful education available to me at the tips of my fingers. So often I will go on and read exactly what I needed. Those I will always share on my page.

What are a few of the most powerful tools that you use to making a difference? 

Yoga, meditation, mindfulness, journaling for accountability, for processing and for dreaming and therapy, therapy has given me so much of my life back. I feel like I am remembering who I am again.

Do you have a message you would like to share with the world?

Your feelings are valid, you’re enough and you’re doing enough, you deserve to be happy and it is your birthright to follow your joy.

About Manifest

Manifest yoga studio runs online and in-person classes as well as hosting various workshops and a teacher training program.

You can find out more about their offerings on the Manifest website:

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Like Manifest’s Facebook page here:

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