Hello, Today I am excited to introduce you Ellen Patrick, of EllenPatrickYoga.com. You are in for a real treat as she shares her passion and knowledge for yoga, mindfulness and living a connected life.
Ellen Patrick, E-RYT 500, Certified Yoga Therapist, Certified Mindfulness Meditation Teacher
A long time ago, before personal computers; when telephones had rotary dials; and you had to get up off your butt to change the few channels on your floor mounted television set, there was a little girl who obsessively watched old Ginger Rogers/Fred Astaire movies on that TV set.
Ellen loved to dance, so much so, that as a young woman she pursued a career as a Broadway dancer. Alas, a back injury curtailed that dream. Not to be defeated, she chose a corporate career behind the curtain only to discover she was a round peg trying to fit into a square hole (except for the time she actually got to meet Ginger Rogers!).
And then along came yoga and meditation to save her starving soul! Yoga/meditation gave Ellen permission to continue to express herself through movement and introduced her to the workings of her mind, body and soul. Soon the call of the yoga/meditation teacher beckoned and Ellen embarked on a journey to share this amazing philosophy and science with those who chose to listen.
With a personal yoga/meditation journey that has spanned over 4 decades, Ellen has spent of 20 of those years teaching and inspiring her students. She is among a minority of teachers who have earned advanced certifications in Yoga Therapy and Mindfulness Meditation. She works with adult students of all ages and specializes in areas of injuries, chronic illness, cancer, mental health and addiction. She believes in yoga/meditation as healing modalities and her approach is caring, compassionate and light-hearted.
Currently, Ellen teaches classes, private sessions, corporate settings and mindfulness meditation. If you are looking for someone with experience and expertise, who will empower you to awaken your inner healer and inner guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out and embark on your own journey to more vibrant health and well-being.
You can find Ellen On Social Media:
00:00:00 Hi, everybody. Welcome to another episode of the connected body podcast. I have a great interview for you today. It's with Ellen, Patrick of Ellen Patrick yoga.com. Ellen is a 500 hour yoga teacher. She is a certified yoga therapist and a certified mindful and meditation teacher. Y,I've had the pleasure personally of being in her yoga and meditation classes.
00:00:35 And she truly has a special and unique gift that she brings to the world. So I'm so excited to have her on today. She's among the few yoga teachers. Who've extended their training into yoga therapy. She works with adults of all different ages who are going through injuries, cancer, chronic illness, mental depression. Addiction is a beautiful, beautiful practice.
00:01:08 And she just is so compassionate and she shines her light wherever she goes. We are also going to be talking about breath and movement and how not only it relates to yoga, but it relates to fitness. It relates to our health and our wellbeing and our every day healthy lifestyle. So please help me welcome Ellen Patrick of Ellen Patrick yoga.com. Hi, Ellen.
00:01:45 Welcome to the connected podcast. I am so happy. You're here. You look so beautiful in your blue today. Welcome. Thank you so much, Laura. And I'm thrilled to be here with you. Well, we have a lot to talk about today, so we're going to start with your background. You have this amazing background as a dancer. So I want to talk about how you got started as a dancer,
00:02:12 what that was like, and then how it kind of flowed into the yoga and meditation. And it did kind of flow, but it took a couple of detours. So I've been dancing. I think I came out of the womb dancing, but I started taking formal dance classes when I was four years old. I started as a tap dancer. I love tap.
00:02:34 I moved into ballet, which I found rather constricting for my personality. And then I found jazz classes that just helped me to express who I really was. I could put my whole personality into it. And so I just loved jazz and tap. And I guess it was around when I was 17. I had to make the decision. Was this just a hobby or did I really want to like make a move for Broadway?
00:03:07 And I grew up in New York, so Broadway, it was just one or two subway stops away. Wow. And so I remember writing my diary. Okay. Now's the time to, you know, to decide this is a life changing decision. And I thought, well, you know, whether I make an umbrella away or not, isn't really relevant.
00:03:28 What was relevant was I didn't want to be an older person looking back saying, I wish I had tried that. I wonder what would have happened. So I made the decision that, okay, I'm going try to be a professional dancer. This is the commitment I'm making to myself. And at the time I was, I got a scholarship at Joe Joe's dance factory in the late seventies,
00:03:57 early eighties was like the premier place to go. If you wanted to dance on Broadway. Wow. That's choreographers. The best teachers were there, the excitement I'm getting chills, just thinking about it. I don't even know. Yeah. The excitement, the energy, you know, we used to take classes with a live band with congos and drums and there was
00:04:25 the energy it was so thrilling and exciting. And I was on scholarship there for a couple of years and then started getting a couple of gigs here and there. I was part of the first and only chorus line at the Nevele Grand hotel in the Catskills. Oh my gosh. Wow. It was a trip. And I have, and I was in Jesus Christ,
00:04:54 superstar and theater in the park. And then I got this incredible gig to dance at the Nile Hilton in Cairo, Egypt. Oh my goodness. And I took that. It was a crazy thing to do. I was 22, I think at the time, but I always wanted to use dance to travel, you know, so to get a job overseas,
00:05:19 I have this great opportunity to see a foreign land. And then I get to do what I love so beautiful. I climbed the pyramids, I water skied on the Nile river. I rode horseback in the Sahara desert. You know, those were all my sideline adventures. And then I had this great gig At the nightclub at the Nile Hilton at the time,
00:05:43 right on the Nile river. Gosh. Yeah, it was wonderful. It was thrilling. And, and then I had a back injury and it was pretty serious in that I was in a lot of pain. And so I started taking some yoga. I had taken a few yoga classes before that, but I started to take yoga classes pretty regularly to help me stay in shape,
00:06:09 to keep me flexible and to help with the healing process. And sure enough, it did all of that. And I went back to my dance classes, but at this point I was 23, 24 and I had to be realistic about my goals. You know, a dancers life is like that of an athlete. Right. It's short-lived right. And so I had in the back of my mind,
00:06:34 well, if I don't get to a certain level, by a certain age, I really need needed to implement plan B. And at that time I had met my husband and our relationship was getting serious and did I want to be on the road all the time? And so I made the decision. I think it was spurred by two things. The pain I had gone through through my injuries,
00:07:01 thinking that I'd always be one injury away from not having an income. And, and my relationship with my husband did I want to go on the road and then possibly lose that relationship. So I decided to take a corporate job after traveling the world. So I decided to spend time if I'm going to be in the corporate world with my steady paycheck and my health insurance,
00:07:36 I wanted to still stay in show business somehow behind the scenes. So for about, I want to say six years, I worked in talent agencies. Yes, it was very, very cool. I worked at William Morris agency for the performing arts. So I worked with a lot of jazz artists and comedians, and that kind of feels fulfilled my creative side,
00:08:01 but the corporate end just was sucking my soul dry. It really was, you know, and then it might, my life travel's kind of got circuitous. I wound up moving to got married, moved to Los Angeles where I worked at Paramount home video. And then we came back to New York and I worked at Simon and Schuster publishing. So to some extent,
00:08:26 I always stayed in, in the creative field, but I was really, it was just sucking me dry. And I felt that it was having an effect on my health as well. And the meantime I was always taking yoga classes, you know, for the mental balance to move my body. And I used to go to different studios and my husband would come along every once in a while.
00:08:51 And I would say, you know, when I retire, I'm going to be a yoga teacher. I used To say that all the time I'd walk into a studio. Well, if I ever had a yoga studio, I would decorate it like that. And I would carry books and, and you know, so I used to daydream like that. And one day my husband got tired of hearing me say that and said,
00:09:10 well, then why don't you just do it? Wow. So, but at the time it was about 40 years old when I first became a certified yoga teacher. And I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted to use yoga as a way to help people heal, to empower people, because that's what it did for me. You know,
00:09:39 I had to work my way through a herniated disc. That's what my injury was. And certainly what I was doing in yoga was helping me. And I just felt there had to be a way to share this information right now. How could I work with people, show them that they had healing potential and how they use it instead of just sitting back and waiting for the injury to heal,
00:10:06 waiting for the illness to pass. And so went on for training as a yoga therapist, which was the very extensive training, learning how to apply the, the tools of yoga manually, the poses, the asana techniques and meditation and mantra. So how could I use those tools? Right. I love that because I think a lot of people, they hear yoga and they just think almost like it's those crazy poses where people are in all sorts of gymnastic poses and they think maybe that's not for me,
00:10:42 but here there's all whole aspect of yoga that's therapy and rehabilitation. Yeah, absolutely. And I think that to a certain extent, yoga, especially in the United States has been, has become more about fitness than it has about the whole body experience. You know, using the breath as a way to manipulate the energy in our body to bring balance to our nervous system.
00:11:13 How can we use meditation to teach us to be our minds? How can we use mantra as a way of setting intentions for our lives? And so all, I learned all these beautiful tools and then I went on to owning a yoga studio for 12 years. Oh, wow. This was right outside New York city, Her retirement. Right? Yeah. Let me tell ya,
00:11:42 definitely a labor of love, a lot of hard work, hard work that I loved. And one of the benefits of, of all that hard work was having a community of like-minded individuals Who recognize the spirit in ourselves who recognize that this was more than just a physical practice. And that was just a beautiful gift that I received from, from having that studio.
00:12:14 And then moving forward, I did close my studio. I had during the course of 12 years had been in three different locations and my building was old and the new landlord decided to take over the building and not reading my lease. And at the time my dad was, was not doing too well. He lived in Florida. My husband was getting very tired of shoveling snow.
00:12:43 Yeah. So we made the decision to move to Florida specifically, Boca Raton were coming to you now, Right? Yeah. And so I've been trying to do privates with people. And I find that the skills that I've accumulated over the years are more effective on a private level. You know, particularly with people who have not only structural issues like bad backs or bad knees,
00:13:15 but I have a client who's a Parkinson's patient. I worked at the Boca Raton regional hospital for, I think it was about five years teaching yoga to cancer patients And Can not, you know, these are people who are undergoing chemotherapy, radiation who don't have their full stamina. But the purpose of the program that I was teaching in was to help them build the stamina,
00:13:43 to get their energy back so that they could go back into the mainstream world, feeling confident with tools that they could use to help them remain healthy, to remain in remission and to, you know, possibly go into yoga studios and take regular classes. Yeah. And I love that because like we said, it's just, there's so much that you can do to help people who are injured and need the healing with yoga and the breath and the mindfulness.
00:14:14 I think it's so, just so important for people to know that that is out there. Now. I want to, I, it on, I just wanted to add one more thing. It's not so much about me helping them, that that satisfies me. But It's really more about giving students tools to empower themselves. Yes. That's huge Because when we're injured,
00:14:41 when we're not feeling well, when we're deeply fatigued or depressed or anxious, you know, we want to know what can we do, right. You know? Yeah. Can turn to medication. You can have surgery, but that's putting your health and wellbeing in somebody else's hands can, how can yoga help to enhance that experience? You may need the medication,
00:15:06 you may need the surgery, but then how do we heal from these things? And so it's about empowering each individual. I love that L and that's so, so true because to have someone or a doctor or someone say, you know, you have this disease or you have this. And you're, you're like, it's a crushing thing. I know when I have my back issue,
00:15:26 I thought, oh my gosh, this is it. This is how I'm going to be forever. You know? And then when you realize that there are other things that you can do and modalities to help yourself, you know, it's, it is, it's just empowering. Yeah. And it's like, what you do, you know, I'm, I'm one of your clients and you empower me.
00:15:46 No, I have osteoporosis. I still have to deal with my back issue. I need to stay strong you to, to learn how to keep my muscles really strong bones from getting too brittle. So I wanted to touch base before we got to Florida, but going back to New York for a second, you had a salt sweet and did yoga. Yeah.
00:16:19 Yeah. So that was, thank you for bringing me back to that. That was during the transition of my studio closing. And before I moved down to Florida, my husband had had three sinus surgeries and had difficulty fighting off sinus infections. And we came across this modality of dry salt therapy. What it is, it's a machine that grinds medical grade salt into really,
00:16:52 really fine particles and air rates them into a room. And the person has to do is sit and read in salt particles. And the reason why it's salt is because salt naturally has many healing qualities. It's antibacterial antiviral, anti-inflammatory, it helps to dry up mucus and this dry salt therapy because the particles are so, so tiny, we'll go deep into the lungs.
00:17:24 Many of your listeners may be familiar with neti pots. Like it's a wet salt there. It's almost the opposite. Yeah. Yeah. And it's very, very effective, but the dry salt therapy really goes into the, the neti pot flushes out the sinuses, but the dry salt therapy will go into the lungs. So people who have cystic fibrosis who are recovering from pneumonia can really benefit from that.
00:17:52 And so we had several salt rooms in New York and I started teaching yoga classes within these ballroom. I was even written up by the London times, which was really exciting. Yeah. And so we did what I did as a, as a practice in the salt rooms was to use yoga poses, to strengthen and stretch the primary and secondary muscles of respiration.
00:18:23 So that would be your diaphragm stretching, open the intercostal muscles, the muscles that are between the, the rib cage. Those are the muscles that help to lift and open the rib cage so that your lungs have more room to expand in and take in oxygen. And so for many, I guess that was a couple of years, we had these classes in the salt room and that was a lot of fun because the floor was covered with him.
00:18:57 It was like being at the beach. Yes. We ha we actually had assaults came here for a while and my husband and I used to go all the time. It was on the walls, it was on the floor. And they even had a, a room for little kids with like buckets and shovels and they would just play in there. It was,
00:19:13 I loved it. Love, love, love, love it. Alright. So I have a question now, so I know a big part of what you do. And we talked about this little bit is like breath and movement and how it's so important when it relates to yoga and fitness and just living a healthy lifestyle. So can you touch more on that?
00:19:35 Yeah. I would love to it's, it's ironic that we breathe 24 7. We don't even have to think about it. Most people do not breathe efficiently. And that was part of the reason why we had these salt rooms was to, and why I did yoga was to help teach people how to breathe better. So the idea was to breathe better, bring in more oxygen,
00:20:04 oxygenate the system, remove carbon dioxide and waste product from the, from the body. But then how did I, how do I apply it with yoga? Right? And this is one of the ancient teachings that I had learned as a yoga therapist. So I'm just going to give a brief little snippet of, of breath anatomy. So we have this,
00:20:28 I won't get too nerdy, It's Dark, but we have this major muscle of respiration that separates the chest cavity. I'll move back a little bit. It separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity, and it's sort of like dome shaped muscle. So when we breathe the lungs inflate and this diaphragm contracts downwards, and when we exhale, that's why our bellies expand.
00:20:57 It's not because we're taking air into the belly is because we're pushing the internal organs out. Then when we asked how the diaphragm relaxes and moves back up into place, the lungs deflate, right? The movement of the diaphragm is integral to us, inhaling and exhaling, and where that becomes helpful. When we employ certain breathing techniques, we can start to strengthen that diaphragm with many people,
00:21:33 myself included when I'm sitting at the computer too long, we end up sitting like this, just kind of slumped over the diaphragm has nowhere to move. So through a yoga practice, through fitness, we learned to stand up nice and tall here's room for this diaphragm to move. And we're getting all our breath in, right? This helps to regulate the nervous system when we are breathing deep,
00:21:59 long breaths. Our nervous system realizes that everything is good. We're not in a stress situation, relax the muscles, start to lose their tension, and we can move more effectively. Right? In addition to, to that, if we pay attention to our breath, as we're moving, we become more focused in the present moment. Being focused in the present moment.
00:22:32 Moment helps us to pay attention to how we're moving. I know from, from fitness or even yoga classes, there's this mentality to push, right? And that's your increase happen. And when the muscles are tight, injuries happen and we're not paying attention. And we're just doing what the teacher's telling us to do, injuries can happen. And so by being anchored in the present moment with the breath,
00:23:02 we start to listen to our bodies. When our breath gets a little short and quick, we're pushing too hard. If the breath is smooth and easy, we're in exactly the place we need to be. And by paying attention, we can decide, do I want more? Do I want less? Am I in that sort of Goldilocks place where it's just right?
00:23:27 Because when we wake up in the morning, we may be very tired. We may not have slept well, you don't want to be pushing in our practice or in our fitness class. Otherwise there's that danger of injury. Same thing. If we come into a practice after a hard day at work or after being in traffic and we're all wired up, we need down before we start moving those tight muscles.
00:23:52 Right. So important, people are walking around stressed. Like, Yeah. And so one of the things I learned that I found fascinating was that certain movements take place on an inhale, certain movements take place on an exhale. And why is that? When we move in coordination with the shape, changes that the breath creates. So when we inhale and we inflate the lungs,
00:24:24 there's this expansive quality to our torso. When we exhale and the lungs deflate, it's a little bit more condense it. So we could even, let's take like three breaths like that now, and just feel how that expansion and contraction naturally takes place. Okay. Take a deep inhale and exhaling. Just two more breaths. Really experiencing the expansion condensing. Yeah.
00:24:59 Beautiful. Well done. And one more. Good. Perfect. So in yoga, we're taught that any movement that takes place where the arms or the legs are moving away from the torso, not takes place on an inhale arms or legs come closer to the body that takes place on an exhale. So for example, all occupied, I'll just demonstrate a warrior.
00:25:35 One Pose A warrior, one hose like this, right. Is a backbend. My legs, my arms are away from the center of my body. I can really help to facilitate in house Right. In a forward bend. This would take place on an exhale. Right? Yeah. It makes sense. It like naturally makes sense. Right? Right.
00:26:06 And so we can enhance forward then by focusing on the exhale, maybe like the exhale and when it comes to fitness work, every time the core is involved, it's a condensing you're pulling in the belly abdominal muscles. So when you're lifting weights, you're doing bicep reps on the exhale. As you're lifting the arms and they come closer to the torso, as you need to engage your core,
00:26:37 the exhale you can, how would be when you lower your right. So you start to move that way. Movement becomes effective. It's efficient, you're using less energy and getting more out of whatever it is you're doing. Whether it's a yoga pose, whether it's lifting weights, even in stretching that breath helps tremendously. Everything's connected. The whole body moves as one full unit.
00:27:08 And when we really, like you said, just connect to what we're doing. It's that much more effective That not only that, but you're anchored in the present and then movement becomes very meditative. And again, you're anchored in the present. You're paying attention to your body. You're listening to its cues and you're helping to prevent injury. Love it, love it.
00:27:30 That was a great explanation of it. Okay. Nerdy Now. And I'm a science geek. So I love the, I love all that. Bring it on. Well, we're coming toward the end of the show, but I want people to know how they can connect with you and how they can find you. I know you have this beautiful free 15 minute meditation for everybody.
00:27:57 So tell us where can people go to download that audio? Yes. So my website is Ellen, Patrick, yoga.com. Very easy to get to. And when you get to my website, you'll have the opportunity to sign up for my newsletter and you get a free 15 minute mindfulness meditation audio. Yeah. Something that I've been doing a lot of lately,
00:28:24 meditation is just my anchor, my stability, my grounding. Yeah. So I want to share that with, with listeners and I'm all over social media. My Instagram is @EllenPYoga and my Facebook is, well, it includes my maiden name, but if you just look up Ellen, Patrick, you'll find me as Ellen Rohrig Patrick. And my Twitter is @mindfulellen
00:28:54 I love it. Yeah. All right. I'm going to put all those links so everybody can find you. But I have personally experienced Ellen's yoga and her meditation classes and she is amazing. She has this beautiful, gentle way about her, but yet still just firm and in control. And she shares all her amazing knowledge with you. She's just, I love her.
00:29:21 I know you guys are going love her. She's a beautiful soul. And I just want to say, thank you so much, Ellen, for being on the podcast today. And I know I so appreciate you giving me the opportunity to share this information. I just think it's so important. And if we all started meditating, I think the world would be a much Kinder to live in.
00:29:42 Oh, I totally agree. And I think that we are helping to get that message out and really that's what this interview and all my interviews are about just to help everyone give them the tools so that they can be empowered by themselves, empower themselves. So thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. All right, bye everyone. And we'll see you on the next episode.
00:30:07 Take care.
In love & light,
Laura Hope London