The latest &Breathe 'Why I Yoga' Q&A is with El Tanner, a Kings College London Law student and part time front of house ray of light at Yotopia in Covent Garden. Having done Yoga when she was little with her Mum, El came back to the practise after starting university. Read El's candid account of the part Yoga plays in her life and why it can't be replaced by anything else.
How did you first get into Yoga?
I started out with Yoga Nidra. It was my first year of university and I’d had several really big emotional blows, so on top of the general emotional shock of leaving home and starting university, I was in a really bad place mentally. One of my friends lent me a Yoga Nidra audio CD which I listened to every night before bed. Meditating really improved my mental state, so I continued that practice for a few months. I’ve always been interested in yoga as a physical practice, as I used to join in with my mum when she was practicing when I was a little girl. When summer came around, I decided to just throw myself into it. I borrowed some yoga DVDs and started practicing regularly, and when I came back to London at the end of the summer I started taking regular classes.
Why do you keep coming back to the mat?
Yoga offers me peace of mind and self-acceptance that I can’t find anywhere else. Having suffered with depression and anxiety since my early teens, it’s really important that I stay physically active and burn off extra energy so that I can sleep properly at night, as lack of sleep really impacts my mood. Yoga allows me to have the strong physical practice I need, but also engages me mentally and allows me to clear my mind of detrimental thought patterns and put things into perspective, whether I’m healthy or unwell at the time.
What's the most positive effect that practising yoga has had on your life?
Yoga has taught me the art of acceptance and gratitude, in all aspects of life. Acceptance and gratitude for myself and for others, and for the good as much as the bad. It’s allowed me to see difficult times as challenges to my personal development, which gives me an underlying feeling when things get rough that it’s all part of my path, and I will be grateful for the strength it brings me in the future. It’s not always easy, but it’s an incentive that is always there in times of adversity. Yoga leaves me eternally grateful.
Which style of yoga do you love the most?
I’m a vinyasa girl! Particularly a flow with dynamic and fun elements to it. I find sun salutations extremely grounding, but love to play around a bit as well and see what shapes I can make.
Which pose gives you the most grief?
PINCHA! I am so close but I just cannot get there! It’s getting better slowly but it’s slow progress. That and tripod headstands - I cannot do a tripod headstand to save my life.
What is your favourite pose and why?
Definitely one-legged king pigeon/mermaid. I find it very grounding as it’s floor based, so easy to connect with your foundations and feel your mat beneath you. It’s a strong pose as you have to engage your legs and your core to stay balanced, and it gives you such a great stretch as well. And once I am in it, I can just stare at a point ahead and breathe and clear my mind whilst getting such a lovely stretch. It’s also a great laugh when you topple over to one side because it’s not painful at all!
What's your favourite savasana tune?
I absolutely love putting on some Indian flute music from a playlist on YouTube for savasana. Bonus points if the oil burners and incense are lit, lights are dimmed, you’ve rubbed some essential oils into your pulse points and have a blanket. The only problem with this is that savasana comes a bit too close to nap time and you have to work harder to stay present!
Follow El on Instagram @eltanner_yoga