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Yoga Straight Talk with Grace Quantock

Friday, August 29, 2014 by Marianne Elliott

Hi lovely.

Today’s post is the last in our Yoga Straight Talk series – and it takes a bit of a different spin. Grace Quantock, 90 Days of Yoga alum and wellness writer and speaker, shares a glimpse into how yoga has been a refuge for her when dealing with the ongoing struggle of chronic illness. Her reflections are spot-on for all of us:

Yoga welcomes us home to our bodies.

One last note – Some of you have been asking:

Can I do 90 Days of Yoga if I haven’t taken your 30 Days of Yoga course?

If you are familiar with the basics of yoga, and confident with basic online technology (downloading files etc) then I’m happy to make an exception for you, since this is the last time we’ll be offering 90 Days of Yoga. If you want to check that you’ll be comfortable and confident in the course, feel free to email us your questions at support@marianne-elliott.com.

Registration closes tomorrow for 90 Days of Yoga. Join me.

Love,

signature_marianneS

 

 

 

 

Meet Grace.

Grace Quantock is a wellness provocateur, writer, speaker and founder of The Phoenix Fire Academy and Healing Boxes CIC. She lives in Wales, UK and loves reading, gardening and yoga on early mornings. Read more at www.gracequantock.com | www.healing-boxes.com and follow Grace on Twitter.

 

Before we get to Grace’s post, let’s hear her voice and best advice for the days you don’t feel like getting on the mat.

 

Yoga: My Thread To Follow, Home and Beyond

My first experience with yoga was at camp. We all crept out before sunrise, teenagers scurrying through dew-wet grass into a meadow. There was darkness and silence and the sky had that silent grandeur of a cathedral dome, still shot through with starlight.

It was easy to move that day, bending and stretching into the dawn. I had no way of knowing, that for every day thereafter, yoga – indeed any movement at all – would become increasingly difficult.

I became very sick, at that camp. At 18, a perfect storm of chronic illnesses would begin to render my body, and its abilities, near unrecognizable as the years went by. And, although I left my camping experience with a fever in my bones, and a body ache that would stretch over a decade, I also carried away the tool that would help me live through it: yoga.

The images of yoga being only for “bendy” people, or those who have perfect “yoga bodies” are pervasive ones. I no longer have a “typical yoga body”; indeed, my body seemed, for many years, like a vehicle that couldn’t do much at all. And yet, here I am, a yogi, now, in my own right.

I became very ill, in that camp, when I was 18. If you struggle with yoga, if you can’t sit cross-legged, or bend over, or if you click and pop and crackle as you stretch, take heart! I couldn’t do these things either. Nor could I sit up on my own, lift my arms, move my legs or even scratch my nose alone. But, I could still do yoga. And you can too.

It’s the beauty and essence of what yoga is: something for everyone, of every ability.

I had a profound realisation, bed bound and unable to move unassisted: yoga is much more than the asanas. It can be practiced with intention, by lovingly meeting the body right where it is – a true gift. I used (and still use) yoga to celebrate my aliveness, my breathing, my absolute beauty and work, even with pain that sometimes fills my every cell.

My practice has provided structure and support, no matter how challenging things are. Even when any movement was agonising, I knew I could still get onto the mat and immerse myself in my practice.

Sometimes, the mat was metaphorical. My body often made getting out of bed impossible. But lying down, one leg bent, slightly, in supine tree pose, and visualising a strong, tall tree with every ounce of concentration I had, was equally as powerful. 90 Days of Yoga has practices that welcome all abilities and needs, which allowed me to participate fully.

In the first dark times of my sickness, when days merged into a never-ending stream of medicine and physical torment, straight through to now, as I continue to navigate a life of chronic illness – through all of my struggles, yoga has been there.

Yoga is a beacon. A lifeline. A thread to follow.

Never was this truer than years ago, while on a cabin-in-the-woods retreat. When I say “the woods”, I really mean The. Woods. Hardcore wilderness. Dark. Stormy. Trees falling. The road out was blocked. I was in the bath, soaking in a gorgeous concoction of bubbles and sparkles. And while I lounged there, humming and slathering argon oil onto my hair, a new, great storm rolled in. Suddenly, the lights disappeared. Total. Blackout. No water. No heat. Nothing. I was terrified. And unprepared. Not to mention, cold and nude in the middle of nowhere. I had to sit and wait (a given in my particular situation.)

And that’s when all the hours on my mat came into play. Do what you do every day, my body told me, do what you always do: yoga. And so I did. In a black out, through that storm, I rolled out my mat. And yoga soothed my ragged body and fearful heart with the millennia old movements I have practiced since I was 17.

Yoga is loving, patient.

It has never judged me for poor performance, never abandoned me during difficulty, rather its benefits have only increased, exponentially, over time.

At the beginning of my healing journey, in wanting to build my yoga practice, I boldly declared my intention to leap into 30 minutes of asanas, everyday. It was overreaching on my part, having been reeled into those ubiquitous images of the perfect yogi plastered all over the web and glossy magazines. Given my illness, I couldn’t sit up for 30 minutes, let alone move for such a span. Undeterred, I began with 5 minutes of yoga each day. 5 minutes. Those 5 minutes turned into a freedom and love of movement I’d never anticipated, a love that continues to blossom with every sun salutation and downward facing dog.

Yoga welcomes us home to our bodies.

To tune back in when events or trauma or illness create a disassociation in our physical or emotional selves.

Yoga is a consistent, calming refuge in my life. With Marianne’s teaching, I hold yoga’s practices and principles at all times. And in doing so, all I need is flat piece of earth and my own quiet heart to enjoy a fruitful session. In this way, my own home practice, so pivotal in my own ongoing healing, is possible.

You’ve found your way here. There’s a reason. Perhaps your body is asking for something. Needing, seeking a path of alleviation, health and wellness. If you are investigating, wondering or sitting on the fence, say yes now. Yes, to your future, more abundant self. Yes to a spaciousness of body and soul. Yes, just like I did, in a move that had me engaging with the mat and a stellar community, daily. And, even more significantly, solidified a gentle, love-filled home practice that has served me every day since.

Meet 90 Days of Yoga mentor, Natalya Pemberton.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014 by Marianne Elliott

Hi lovely. I’m thrilled to introduce you to Natalya Pemberton, our yoga mentor for this final round of 90 Days of Yoga.  As an experienced home yogi  and 90 Days alum Natalya is full of tried and true wisdom; here’s one of my favorite bits from our interview with her: Start small, and declare it […]

Yoga Straight Talk with Petra Gimbad

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 by Marianne Elliott

Meet Petra.

Petra is a lecturer, writer and volunteer with homeless communities. Prior to her current job, she worked with various human rights organisations and as a yoga teacher.

She writes for sun2surf.com and can be found on Twitter under @petragimbad.

Women are changing the world. And we need you.

Monday, August 25, 2014 by Marianne Elliott

I think we all agree, the world needs our courage right now. The courage to stand up for the things we care about. The courage to change the way we’ve always done things. The courage to trust that we can and will find a brighter, fairer, safer future for us all. I know you get this, that’s why […]

Yoga Straight Talk with Sarahjane Blum

Thursday, August 21, 2014 by Marianne Elliott

Sarahjane Blum is an author, co-owner of www.grapefruitmoongallery.com, animal rights activist, and occasional public speaker. She’s spending most of the summer trying to use up the vegetables in her CSA. Follow her on twitter to hear about all of this, and maybe send her some advice about what to do with the world’s largest head of napa cabbage. Follow her on twitter at @sarahjaneblum.

Courageous Company with Kara-Leah Grant: The Courage to take the Hard Road

Thursday, July 31, 2014 by Marianne Elliott

It’s late 2000 and I’m freelancing for a small local paper in my current home town, Whistler BC. My editor has assigned me a story that requires me to call and interview one of the movers and shakers in town. I’m 25 years old, I’ve been writing articles since I was 16 and in the last four years I have lived in London, Chamonix, France, Niagara Falls and now Whistler.

I consider myself a brave and courageous woman, living a fearless and exciting life.

Except this phone call is freaking me out completely.

Courageous Company with Anna Guest-Jelley: Why Wearing a T-Shirt Might Have Changed My Life

Thursday, July 31, 2014 by Marianne Elliott

Do you have nemesis clothing? I do — and plenty of it. But the top of my list?

T-shirts.

I mean, is there anything so unflattering yet so ubiquitous? High-necked, boxy, tight (or way too loose)-armed, often stiff-fabric-ed.

It’s hard for me to find much to like.

Yet I recently found myself wanting to wear one each day over a weekend where my body would be on constant display in front of 50+ people.

Courageous Company with Justine Musk: The Courage to Speak

Wednesday, July 30, 2014 by Marianne Elliott

I once co-hosted an erotica-writing workshop for women only.

There were about 17 of us. The workshop lasted all day, punctuated by strategic sessions of wine-tasting.

The alcohol, the increasingly personal and daring nature of the material we shared, the growing camaraderie among the women: bonding ensued.

(Like the movie BREAKFAST CLUB. But different.)

Courageous Company with Marilyn Sewell: The Power of Story

Tuesday, July 29, 2014 by Marianne Elliott

I’ve noticed that I can fall into stuck places that will not let me go for a long time. At those times, I feel like an insect caught in a web, squirming and straining, to no avail. I suffer. I complain. Sometimes I fall into despair. Then there is a flurry of angel wings, my own little annunciation. New life starts.

Courageous Company with Alessandra Cave: The courage to share ourselves with the world.

Saturday, July 26, 2014 by Marianne Elliott

About two years ago, I felt a huge drive to put together a photography book. But from the very start, I knew that I wanted this book to be very different from any other photography book that I had ever seen. My calling was to create a book that would offer a lot more than just photo techniques and inspiration. This particular book, named “Shooting with Soul”, would also challenge readers to think about why they wanted to take pictures, and more importantly, it would empower them to bravely share their soul with the world!

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