A Creative Minute With... Ellie Howard, Yoga Instructor and Wellness Blogger
All photos: Mattea Linae
Today I'm pumped today introduce you to Ellie: another awesome St. Louis-based friend of mine. I first connected with Ellie last winter and have loved getting to know her ever since. With every coffee date we have, I walk away feeling inspired and uplifted by her outlook on her career and life!
Have you ever wondered what taking a more intentional, mindful approach to living and wellness could look like in your life? Ellie shares how she finds balance between working her full-time job as a content strategist, teaching yoga, and running her wellness-focused blog. Dive into her story below!
Q: Share a bit of your story with us: what experiences in your education and professional background led you to pursue yoga instruction and blogging about wellness?
A: I've always been fascinated by creative pursuits, but my interest in yoga came a bit later. I originally hoped to work for a fashion magazine and began my college career studying journalism and fashion design.
In an unusual series of events, I learned about energy healing while at a fashion conference in Chicago. The owner of a spiritual spa (The Ruby Room) gave a really amazing lecture on the subtle body and chakra clearing. This information was brand new to me, but it resonated deeply; it felt like an 'aha' moment. I asked the speaker for book suggestions and she recommended "The Anatomy of the Spirit & The Astonishing Power of Emotions." From there, I was obsessed with studying anything on personal development and spirituality.
When I started practicing yoga, I did not know what I was doing. I had never been to a class and lacked body awareness. I called my practice "creative stretching."
I stumbled across Tara Stiles on YouTube and started following her videos at home. Over the course of a few years, my practice gradually deepened. Eventually, it became so much more than a workout or a physical activity. Yoga became a way to connect with myself, release trapped emotions and heal my body.
It was a natural decision to combine my interest in wellness, writing and photography. I absolutely love sharing my experiences with yoga and nutrition, especially after recovering from hormonal imbalances and autoimmunity. The body can do absolutely incredible things – you just have to know how to treat it!
"The body can do absolutely incredible things – you just have to know how to treat it!"
Q: I always love to ask! What does your workday routine look like, and how do you try to maintain a balance between rocking it at your full-time job, planning out blog content and teaching yoga classes throughout the week?
A: Honestly, I am still trying to find a routine that works for me. Balance looks different every day of the week!
My most productive days start with me arriving at the office at 8 a.m., where I review my calendar, organize my planner and prioritize my day. Without spending this time to get organized, I end up feeling flustered and overwhelmed. My best days start with a plan.
My full-time job is as a client strategist at a marketing start up, so my day varies from client calls and stat reporting, to scheduling meetings and answering emails. I have an incredible work environment, but it is also very fast paced. I learned quickly that I need to actively manage my energy to avoid stress & burnout.
I do this by taking regular breaks. It might be a coffee run or a quick walk, but I give myself a moment to recharge. One of my favorite ways to relax is to work on a creative project. Even if its only for 15 minutes, I take a moment to write or edit photos. This is extremely rejuvenating for me and I'm able to jump back into my work day feeling refocused.
Over my lunch break, I hit the gym. I love, love, love this habit. My work day feels shorter and working out helps to keep my stress managed. Midday workouts also keep my mornings and evenings wide open to work on my side hustle or take a yoga class!
While I do end up hustling on nights and weekends, Friday afternoons are prime time for me to work on my personal projects. My office honors half-days on Fridays (#startuplife) and you'll likely find me camped out at Kaldi's Coffee to plan my Instagram and create new content.
Q: I love that you place an emphasis on mindfulness and living intentionally in all that you do, which you share openly about on social media. What are your go-to tips and tricks for finding alignment during an otherwise crazy day?
A: My tips and tricks are far from rocket science! Find time in the day to do something - anything - that makes you happy. Lean in to your simple pleasures.
This sounds easy enough, but most of us list "fun" as a bottom priority. Working, errands, chores and events all tend to come first. If you've fallen out of alignment, don't force yourself to hustle it out. Take a break, take a breath and do something that lights you up.
First thing in the morning, do whatever it takes to put yourself in an incredible mood. For me, that looks like a superfood elixir and a very enthusiastic dance party in my car. By the time I walk into the office, I've got great energy, I'm 100% awake, and I can't stop smiling. Best start to the day.
Q: How do you like to unwind and recharge after a workday?
A: So much of my day is spent in my head, so I love to unwind in my body. Yoga, dancing, and long walks through my neighborhood are some of my favorite activities.
Additionally, I love painting, a good novel, and I'm not opposed to binge watching "Crazy Ex Girlfriend" after a long week!
"Take the pressure off! You don't have to get it right the first time. You're allowed to experiment, you're allowed to fail. Be open to letting your process evolve."
Q: For fellow women who are seeking a creative outlet or want to launch their own side hustle or blog, what would your greatest piece of advice be?
A: Take the pressure off!
You don't have to get it right the first time. You're allowed to experiment, you're allowed to fail. Be open to letting your process evolve.
When I first wanted to start my blog, I agonized over every detail. I was so consumed with it needing to be perfect, I would write blog posts and never publish them - my blog is where drafts went to die. When I finally gave myself permission to try, without any other expectations, I could actually produce work I was satisfied with. When I shifted my focus to the experience of creating, rather than an end result, the intimidation melted away.