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Introducing, Leslie Ellingburg

3:10:00 PM

a.k.a Yogini is a Dancer

Photo by Katie Norrell

I met Leslie when she wondered into the studio one day. She was promoting her yoga practice. I was immediately impressed by her passion and drive. We kept in touch here and there and then one day she presented me with a proposition...a combination yoga and art class in our studio. I was intrigued by the idea though I have to admit I could not picture how the class might look. It is not a combination that I had heard of before. We decided to run with the idea and it has been an amazing experience! I love the way the yoga class and the art class meld together. It is quite refreshing. Leslie is a wonderful yoga instructor who makes yoga feel very accessible to even the most beginner of beginners such as myself!  

So let me introduce you now to Leslie and her beautiful vision of  arts and creativity through the practice of yoga.

Leslie describes her background in creativity as being a life long pursuit. She has explored various creative mediums from music to poetry, but her creative focus is dance. "I really feel like I came out of the womb as creative soul and luckily I had parents who let me explore that and turn that into a career (dance teacher and performer)." Leslie has been a choreographer and dance teacher for over five years and a dancer for over 17. She is also a writer and has written for various blogs and publications. You can read Leslie's articles and musings on her website here or on her blog, Aum in the Arts
1st ever yoga and art class in our studio,

Leslie's yoga practice is another important creative outlet for her. She loves to create themes for her yoga classes,, "My style of yoga is very thematic, I love to center class around one particular topic. It can be a body part, a chakra (energy channel), a quote, exploring our way into a particular pose, or exploring all the variations of a particular pose." She finds that themes help her and her students maintain focus. She goes as far as to create musical play lists to go with the theme for her classes. " One time I did a Spring Sun Salutation class where all the songs were about spring/springtime. For my heart opening and back bending classes I always play my Heart Playlist where all the songs are about love or being free. When I practice at home I find the music inspires my sequencing and how I move in and around a flow, it's very much like a dance." Leslie's blog, Aum in the Arts explores the connectivity between art and yoga.  Leslie explains that "Aum" is the most sacred word in ancient Sanskrit and that it represents everything from beginning to end. Leslie says, "I got the name AUM in the Arts after listening to the MC Yogi (a yogic rapper) and his song A.U.M. He breaks down AUM into three words: Almighty, Universal, Magnetic. I then realized art can be used in this acronym. Art is universal and magnetic." For Leslie it is those universal and magnetic characteristics that link yoga and art. She believes each person embodies both yoga and art. On her blog, Leslie says, " there is yoga in all art." 
Image Via; from urbanwired.com

"In yoga there are eight branches like a tree, where yoga is the trunk. In addition to asana they are: yamas(ethical standards: ahimsa/nonviolence, satya/speaking the truth, asteya/non-stealing, brahmacharya/moderation, aparigrahaha/non-hoarding) and niyamas (observances: saucha/cleanliness, santosa/contentment, tapas/discipline, svadhyaya/self-study, Isvara pranidhana/surrender to God), pranayama(breathing exercises), pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses, going within), dharana (concentration), dhyana(meditation), and finally samadhi (enlightenment/bliss). As you can see those branches incorporate many of what artists like to explore or bring awareness to.  All artists practice tapas and dharana when they practice day in and day out on their art, a lot of my features say that their art form is meditative because they can't think of anything else just the work they are creating. Many of my featured artists talk a lot about satya and how when they speak their truth and when art comes from the soul that is what makes good art. The list can go on and on!"

 Here at the art studio we believe that all individuals are innately creative beings, though sometimes that creativity can be blocked. Leslie agrees, but she points out that creativity is not always what we think it is. She adds, "it is important to see that creativity is in everything. There is an art to cooking, to gardening, child rearing, running a business, mowing the yard, doing laundry,etc..." To boost your own creativity Leslie recommends, taking a walk, experiencing nature, feeling the sun's warmth, and letting you senses engage with your surroundings. She also points out that creativity is contagious so surrounding yourself with other creatives can also spark your own creativity.  Leslie notes that her yoga and dance classes also offer participants opportunities to open and uplift their own creative energies, weather it is through exploring pose variations or improvisational creative movement. Se adds, "When we get in touch with our bodies, close our eyes and really see what's on the inside beautiful things happen. Then we can translate these beautiful thoughts, feelings, issues, out of insides and into another medium (dance, yoga pose, coloring, sculpting, painting, needle felting etc...)"
August yoga and art Class, focus on the heart

If you are local and wish to attend one of Leslie's amazing classes you can see her schedule here
Leslie will be in our studio on the 3rd Wednesday of each month teaching the yoga portion of our Yoga and Art Class!

Fall Schedule:

September 21st- 6:30-8:30 $20
 Hamsa (Hand of God) This month our practice will focus on our hands and how they support us and lift us, we will be doing poses that strengthen and stretch our hands, wrists and arms. We will then be coloring Hamsa mandalas to take with us as a reminder of our practice. 
October 19th- 6:30-8:30 $20
Costumed yoga set to Halloween music. We will also be honoring those who have passed on with a Dia De Los Muertos  (Day of the Dead) sugar skull skull craft made from champagne corks.(Feel free to bring your own Champagne!)
November 16th- 6:30-8:30 $20
We are celebrating Thanksgiving a little early with a restorative and meditative yoga practice based on gratitude and thankfulness.  We will be creating adorable pine cone birds, perfect for your Thanksgiving table decor.
December - We will be taking a break to enjoy the holidays with our families. We will see ya next year!

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