Thirty-two-year-old Erin Williams believes yoga is crucial for the wellness of mind, body and soul. This notion that she so profoundly carries led her to start Yoga a la Mode in January, a company through which she teaches the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of yoga.
“A la Mode is French for in style, it also means ice cream on top of a pie in North America. Yoga can be fun, accessible and yummy!” gushed Williams. She fondly likened it to having a scoop of ice cream on top of one’s fitness and wellness routine.
Erin is a long-time avid yoga practitioner who began her journey over 10 years ago through the thrill and challenge of Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Power and Yin classes.
As a civil society leader and organizational developer specializing in equality and gender-based violence, she used yoga as a positive strategy to manage work stress and strike a personal fitness balance.┬á┬á
In the process she discovered her joy of teaching during her career move from Canada to Jamaica and then to her current home base of Gaborone.
“I strongly believe in the proven effects of yoga and its ability not only to calm the mind and strengthen the body, but also to assist in increased positivity, productivity and concentration in all areas of life. Yoga A La Mode aims to harness and develop that connection while providing upbeat and accessible yoga, breathing and meditation practice to my clients,” explained Williams.
She teaches Vinyasa Yoga, which links breath to movement and Power Yoga, which emphasizes high energy as well as customized classes such as Yoga for Runners and Pre & Post Natal Yoga classes. She also incorporates restorative principles that focus on rejuvenation and mindfulness.
Among other workshops and training such as the Caribbean Yoga Conference she attended in 2012, she also completed her Yoga Teacher Training Certification with Jim Harrington in Cape Town which included anatomy, philosophy, meditation, pranayama and Ashtanga asana.┬á
Williams is also a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) with Yoga Alliance. “I really enjoyed my training because it focused on all aspects of yoga including the really important aspect of alignment and anatomy ÔÇô why we do things the way we do in yoga and how to do them better for safety and sustainability,” she said.
Williams also learnt during her training that yoga can naturally reduce stress and anxiety and increase positive attitude, productivity and concentration in all areas of life.
She said it also builds strength and flexibility in both large and small muscle groups and in the proper joints and in addition, increases balance for a healthy physical body. She sees it as an excellent way to balance out a fitness routine of aerobics, running or weight training by massaging inner organs, calming the central nervous system and strengthening muscles.┬á
Williams explained that meditation is an aspect of yoga that can assist in calming the mind and creating mindfulness in the body and mind to combat stress, anxiety and overall malaise.
“Meditation doesn’t need to be complicated. Just sitting still for two minutes a day focussing on your breathing alone is meditation,” she said.
As in all other disciplines she said it is important to have a teacher just to help one focus and have some guided practice.
“Yoga is always student focused and relies on one’s ability to be an expert with his or her own body. A teacher is just like a coach, supporting that person and responding to questions and queries as and when they come up,” said Williams.
She said one may practice yoga as many times as they please but recommended at least two sessions a week as a great start. She said there is yoga for children too therefore one can learn at any age. “I would rather though that young people wait to do vigorous workouts until after they have stopped growing. But in any case sports, play and yoga can be done at all ages,” she advised.
Williams said to anybody that might be looking up to her and wishing to one day be a yoga teacher should research the different courses available and make sure They connect with their philosophy.
“Being a teacher also means learning and practising regularly. So remember you make a commitment to learn and practice as much as possible and the journey never ends. It is also never too late to start,” she said.