Originally from New Zealand, Ella Ann Trotter spent years traveling the world to learn about yoga and energy healing. In 2017, she settled in Bali and in 2018 she joined the Zazyoga team to spread her love for yoga with residents and travelers and co-lead the Zazyoga Teacher Trainings.
We interviewed her to learn about her journey and passion for yoga.
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.Rumi
Hi Ella. You now teach and train many students in the art of yoga. How did you get into yoga yourself?
I first went to a Yoga class in New Zealand when I was about 16, and just really enjoyed the warmth and how relaxed it made me feel. Throughout the years I have explored many forms of Yoga to keep fit and feel healthy, Bikram, Hot, Vinyasa, but it was many years before I really understood that yoga was less about how I moved my body and more about how I lived my life. After quitting my job in 2016 to travel the world I became increasingly more attuned to myself as a spiritual being, and knew I had to go to India to deepen my understanding of yoga as a path to greater peace of mind, body and soul.
Any reason you chose your particular style of Yoga ?
I first studied Hatha Yoga as it is a traditional form of Yoga that balances Sun and Moon, Yin and Yang. Although I rarely call myself a Hatha Yoga Teacher as I don’t believe in defining my Teaching Practice to a particular style, but it definitely takes from elements of Hatha, creating a harmony and inner balance in the body, connecting breathe to movement. I love teaching Vinyasa Flow, Yin & I am now focusing on Therapeutic Yoga for Stress, anxiety, depression and back issues such as scoliosis which is great for one on one sessions. My Yoga journey also led me to Reiki Energy Healing which is great for balancing our the energy centers of the body.
Who are your mentors and what is the most important lesson you have learnt from them?
I learn from everyone around me. I believe the best way I can look at my life is through the eyes of the student. Always humble and open to receive even when i’m taking on the role of the student. I spend a lot of time living in community so there is many opportunity for self discovery through learning, sharing, working and playing with like-minded souls.
I also believe the most important person I can learn from is myself. So devoting time for self practice, meditation and holistic therapies is an integral part of my days.
What characteristic do you believe make a great yoga teacher?
I believe a great Yoga Teacher is someone that lives the essence of what they teach on and off the mat. A being that is always striving to be the best version of themselves, as well as honoring we are a balance of dark and light.
What’s your relationship to your own body? How has this changed over time?
My relationship with my body has changed drastically over the years. From having an eating disorder as a teenager, putting my body through extreme stress and high impact exercise all to feel in control. Even once that passed I still seemed to do so much and to the extreme. From running and yoga most mornings to lifting heavy weights with body builders in the evening, then partying all weekend, filling myself with drugs and alcohol. I still ate healthy, lots of vegetable, But I also ate a lot of meat, feeling like I needed that protein to stay energized and lean. Since my travels started in 2016 that all changed. Volunteering all around the world in Eco Communities and Holistic Centers gave me a deeper understanding of the actions of consumption, and a greater love for all beings on this planet. Now I eat a mainly plant based diet, I rarely drink alcohol, and feel full and nourished. Everything is done with awareness and If I feel the need for something, even if its meat, or wine, I honor that commitment to self love first. I have slowed down enough to listen to my body and not push it beyond what it needs to look a particular way. I have learnt to love my body exactly as it is.
What advice would you give someone who feels they can’t practice yoga because they don’t have the right kind of body, they don’t have time, they have limiting beliefs, etc?
I think it comes down to value. When I value myself I know that without a Daily practice, I am tired, stiff, grumpy and just not the best version of myself. So I don’t believe that there is no time. We must make time for what nourishes our sense of wellbeing. For me, that is a morning meditation and gentle yoga practice to ground myself and realign with my intentions. For anyone that feels they are not good enough or not fit enough, I would say start slow. Take baby steps, if its too daunting to go to a class full of flexible yogi’s then download some short tutorials and do it in your bedroom. Seek out mentors that you trust to help and guide you. Stay positive and remember, you deserve to be the best version of yourself.
What are some other common, incorrect assumptions about yoga?
That you have to be flexible to start! I say yoga can benefit the most inflexible person.
That a Yoga Teacher Training is only for those that want to become a teacher. Most students in the training come to deepen their understanding of all areas of yoga that you wouldn’t necessarily learn in a 90 minute class. To understand how your own body works, to develop a self practice, to live a more holistic and yogic life all comes first before teaching others.
What’s your favorite asana pose?
I’d say Savasana but I’ve heard that is cheating! Other than that, I love hip openers like Pigeon and Heart openers such as Supta Bata Konasana is definitely a favorite.
What advice would you give a well-practiced yogi to take their practice to the next level?
Never stop learning, never stop asking questions. Stay humble, be inquisitive.
Finally, what is the goal of yoga as you see it? Beyond the walls we often construct, how are we all truly connected in this practice?
I believe that we are all connected, we are all drops of water from the same ocean. Through the practice of yoga and meditation I believe we can all tap in to this source, learn that we are not the mind, but an awareness behind it. In that moment, we are present beings of light. We are completely at peace. There is no need of doing, but just being is enough.
Are you considering a Yoga Teacher Training? Make sure to read our 10 things to consider when choosing a YTTC.