This month, we want to introduce you to our newest Ambassador, Elizabeth Rowan. Elizabeth is a Vinyasa, Prenatal and Children's Yoga Instructor who was certified in Hong Kong and is now based in Savannah, Georgia. Elizabeth is passionate about all things Yoga, Ayurveda and of course, her Plank Yoga Mat. She is a regular contributor for MindBodyGreen, Asana Journal and Intent.
Introducing our Plank Ambassador: Elizabeth Rowan
Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into yoga and where/what do you teach?
I was working around the clock, across all number of time zones with my husband as corporate expats in fast-paced, small-spaced Hong Kong. Enter: yoga – and fast! I began practicing yoga to find balance, and was soon cheating on my BlackBerrys with my mat. I then trained as a teacher in order to share it with others. I’ve since returned to the U.S., and teach private and group vinyasa, prenatal and children’s yoga in Savannah, Georgia.
We know you enjoy sharing about how Yoga is useful for real life activities. How do you help your students take their yoga off the mat and into their jobs and daily activities?
I’m always talking about taking lessons from yoga into real life, and I love hearing how my students put yoga to work outside of class. Practicing pranayama and relaxing the shoulders help a marathon runner rally late in the race; new moms tell me that chanting Om helped them during labor and now soothes their newborn; children have said that yoga has taught them to listen better, not get angry and – a favorite – “calm my brain”; stress relieving postures and poses that counter desk work, high heels, crazy travel schedules resonate with executives. I can go on! A yoga practice is made to take off the mat, and I love exploring these with fellow practitioners.
We see that you are a fan of Ayurveda (alternative healing derived from India). How do Ayurvedic principles keep you healthy and how do they tie into your yoga practice?
My teachers in Hong Kong are all Indian and so traditional Ayurvedic practices played a significant role in their classes and yoga teacher training program. In fact, they taught the two as intrinsically linked, not separate entities like we often encounter in the West. Ayurveda is incredibly complimentary to yoga as both provide deep wisdom for health, healing and a natural approach to living to counter our nonstop 21st century lifestyles. I think that so much of Ayurveda is intuitive if we pause and listen to our bodies and natural rhythms. It helped me break the cycle of depending on caffeine, eating on the run and taking my health for granted just to get through the workday.
What was your first experience like with a Plank Yoga Mat and how has it helped evolve your personal yoga practice? Why do you think it is the best yoga mat on the market?
I was first drawn to Plank for their fresh designs unlike any mat out there, and then was amazed to feel the physical benefits of a heat activated grip. My Plank mat (the wooden plank design) rocks as both a training tool and for its clever and fresh design. I want all of the students in my classes to practice on one. It makes a tremendous difference in terms of bringing awareness to one’s foundation, showing how proper placement, grip, weight distribution of hands and feet can completely change your practice. It also demands that you slow down and commit fully to every posture. I feel super grounded on my Plank, and hear the same from fellow teachers and students who notice it first for it's good looks, try mine, and then fall hard for its ability to connect on a deeper level than any other mat. Poses are stronger, bandhas engaged, muscles more active, awareness heightened (not to mention attitude lightened with a glance at its cheeky-with-a-message design).