“I have always felt like I was misplaced at birth,” Elise explained, “because even though I did not grow up here, this is really where I feel at home.” She always wanted to live at the beach and she originally moved to the Grand Strand twenty-five years ago to open at the Palace Theatre where she played the violin with Kenny Rogers.
Although Elise spent many years immersed in a dynamic span of careers, once she started practicing yoga, she instantly fell in love as it “grabbed ahold of her soul” and she just knew it was the new direction for her life. She decided to become an instructor and now has certifications in life coaching and health coaching as well. She coaches clients individually but also weaves many of the vital coaching concepts into her everyday yoga teachings.
One yoga teaching that is particularly interesting for this time of year is intention setting. Many people are beginning their New Year’s resolutions, and for most yogis, a New Year’s resolution is just another day of intention setting. Elise explained, “While practicing yoga, we take time before and after every class to practice intention setting, which is done by bringing attention to a quality that you would like to emulate, on and off the mat. So, when New Year’s Day comes around, maybe I’ll pick a word that might resonate with me for the year, but with yoga, I feel like we are always setting intensions/resolutions every single day.”
For three years, Elise has been the owner of Living Yoga and Wellness in Myrtle Beach, but she thinks of herself as the “current caretaker” as she will one day pass the company onto another to carry it forward. Her role is to be as open and inviting as possible to the community because she wants everyone who walks into her business to feel comfortable and ready to learn. For someone new to yoga, her advice is to look at yoga like a foreign language. “You are not going to learn everything in one day,” she said, “so you should not have expectations or judgments about it. Yoga is just another opportunity for you to learn about yourself and see where the path takes you.”
Elise views herself as a suggestion, a facilitator, but what the practice of yoga reveals for someone personally, is what it’s all about, and it’s different for everyone. She explained, “When you are on your own mat and in your own space, it gives you an opportunity to listen to yourself and your needs. I have found that the students who practice yoga over an extended period of time, go through shifts and changes, and I have literally seen it happen. It’s really a cool thing to watch when the light goes on for someone and when they make the connection for themselves.”
As far as a morning routine, Elise meditates and focuses on her breathing. “I feel like if I start my day in a calm, peaceful place, the probability that the rest of my day will continue that way, is pretty good,” she said, as she has been starting her day this way for fifteen years. Her quiet mornings also involve reading and crossword puzzles. When I asked her about the benefits of meditating, she replied “It was life-changing! When I first started, I thought, ‘What is the purpose? Why is my mind so busy?’ But that’s what the point is. Over time, I still have sessions where my mind is all over the place, but it’s part of the process. I have found that meditation really helps me be a better person – it grounds me. Learning how to deal with the ebb and flow, with the shift of how you want things to go and how they end up going, letting go of expectations and of things that are out of your control. It helps you become accepting and at peace with what is.”
The everyday practice of yoga and meditation also brings a sense of affirmation building due to how the practice rewires the way your brain thinks. Elise believes it is very useful to think and speak positively to oneself. She practices this by releasing judgment, guilt, shame, blame, and learning to forgive. This was something that came with time for her and has been an easier transition as she has matured. She used to be hard on herself (as most of us are) and had to learn how to speak to herself in a different manner. One of her teachings is, “Take those things you say to yourself and imagine saying it to the person beside you. You can’t, you wouldn’t, because it’s not kind. So, don’t say it to yourself. Whenever I catch myself thinking negatively, I’ll turn it around and say, ‘no girlfriend, give yourself some grace.’”
Elise enjoys writing out her feelings as well. She does not write daily, but she does have a specific journal for her thoughts when the time approaches. She also has lots of notes written on pieces of paper everywhere. She is very tapped into music and has many playlists and genres she listens to depending on what she is doing at the time. Just as she expresses herself through writing and music, she also connects with herself through nature. She lives close to the ocean and appreciates the sounds of the waves, walking on the beach, and putting her toes in the sand. She also has a passion for gardening, “digging in the dirt and growing things, that’s my jam!” she exclaimed. Speaking of jam, another hobby she likes is cooking. She spends a lot of time in the kitchen creating recipes and working on her cookbook.
Spending quality time focused on what she loves is a high priority for Elise and coming to the studio is very inspiring for her. Knowing that she is headed to a place she loves and sharing what she loves with others is plenty of motivation for her. She cherishes her studio and the way that it provides a space for people to collect. She feels that the practice of yoga brings true joy and happiness and that “the more you practice, connect, and understand yourself, the more you can start to make those subtle changes in your life that bring peace overall.”
The most important thing Elise is telling her clients is to listen to their own bodies. She explained, “We are a map of our experiences. Everything we have is within us, and I feel like we are taught to look outside ourselves for the answers, but really, we have everything we need inside. Through the practice of yoga, you are able to find that. Because yoga is who I believe we are as humans, it taps into all of the parts of our beings. It allows us to be more aware, and every time I physically step onto the mat, it also works on the mental, emotional, and soulful aspects. They are all connected and through yoga, we get to truly understand ourselves.”
Yoga is not something that Elise does – yoga is a way of life. On and off the mat, she chooses to live her life consciously and tries to constantly be present in all areas. She does not view yoga as just a physical movement, but as a living and loving, organic growth. Elise exclaimed, “Yoga and life are synonymous.”