As an ode to Winston Salem and the dwindling days I have left here (35 to be exact) I’ve decided to start a short series: Winston’s Top 5. If you’ve explored downtown recently, you too know this city is making big strides in becoming a covetable, instagrammable, discoverable den for hipsters and those of us pretending to be hipsters. Little did I know as a freshman, Winston would grow on me and create a soft spot, giving me a proud parent feeling when a new restaurant opens on Fourth Street or when a cool store pops up on Trade. Thus, here are my five Winston favorites, starting with number one: Yoga with Elliott.
I’ve always wanted to get into yoga, but always found myself becoming bored or impatient during classes. For my birthday in August, one of my friends gave me a two week unlimited gift card to Paz Yoga downtown. I made my way to the Trade Street studio, set up my yoga mat in the dimly lit classroom, and had my first Vinyasa class with Elliott. The upbeat music, (I immediately recognized the instrumental to Kanye’s Heartless and knew I was in good hands), the mirror-less rooms, and Elliott’s unique teaching style created an ideal environment for absolute focus and calming of the mind. Since that first class, I’ve been hooked on Elliott’s Hot Vinyasa class. Weeknights at 6:15pm, I know I can always count on a successful hour thanks to his encouraging guidance, genuine dedication, and calming energy. No two classes are ever exactly the same, as he often introduces the students to new techniques and changes up the music from hip hop to reggae and anything in between. I asked the man himself a few questions to share his brilliant approach to the craft of yoga:
Megan: What sparked your interested in yoga, and when/where did you start practicing?
Elliott: I was a Philosophy and religious studies major in college where I specialized in Eastern philosophy and religion. I took my first yoga class while studying abroad in India then was hooked ever since.
M: In your opinion, what are some major benefits of yoga?
E: The reason Yoga was created was to calm the mind. The mental benefits are the best benefits that come from practicing yoga. The physical benefits come second even though that’s why most people initially get into yoga.
M: How frequently do you recommend your students practice in order to reap the benefits?
E: 2-3 times a week. Consistency is key.
M: How is Vinyasa particularly beneficial compared to other types of yoga?
E: Vinyasa classes get the heart rate up and can get you more in tune with your breathing. The main difference is the pace of the class.
M: Your class is very unique and has become extremely popular. The music, lighting, and heated lamps are some of my favorite aspects. How did you develop this class?
E: My class is based off of the Ashtanga yoga tradition for which I took my training. This is the original Vinyasa style of yoga. Most modern yoga is based off of this tradition. With years of studying and practicing I have created my own sequence that is how I enjoy to practice. Everything I teach is how I practice myself and what I have come to want and need from a yoga class. As far as the music goes I just really like hip hop instrumentals.
M: What is some advice you would give to beginners, who hope to become expert yogis?
E: Practice, Study, Respect the craft… You will be an “expert” soon enough if you put in the work. It really is just about dedication and practice.
M: Do you have any major goals regarding your yoga practice and teaching, both long and short term?
E: My main goal is having peace of mind. Yoga helps me keep that. I want to pass on what yoga has done for me to people who typically wouldn’t be interested in yoga. It’s why I get out of bed in the morning.
If you’re hoping to find some peace of mind with exams approaching, or are simply yoga-curious, I highly recommend Elliot’s zen zone. The stress that can be brought about by tests, papers, job applications, and the daily grind is real, and one hour in Elliott’s classroom twice a week has become a necessity for me. I was happy to return to Paz Yoga after being in Dallas for Easter break, where I took a different Vinyasa class. I told Elliot it was simply not the same, to which he replied “I get that a lot.” I have no doubt about it.
– Megan O’Sullivan
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