eople often ask how we ended up living in the mountains in California, 3 miles down a windy gravel road running an online Yoga business. And the answer is definitely still a work in progress!
Some forty something years ago I grew up in a village outside of Düsseldorf, Germany. Driven by a very adventurous nature, I spent most of my childhood climbing trees and running wild in the forest;I enjoyed testing limits and exploring the unknown. At age sixteen I went to a dedicated high school of the arts to study dance; and two years later I was accepted into a professional dance program in Dresden, former East Germany.
As is true with so many things in life, the experience of working with my body as intensely as I did was a double-edged sword. I gained deep, experiential knowledge of the human body and a keen eye for the details that allow me to structure and develop thoughtful and creative movement classes. But the extreme discipline and pressure of a vigorous training also began to turn my joy of dancing into an increasingly costly experience.
After graduating I started freelancing and performing across Europe and eventually New York City—and it was here that my healing journey began. I spent several months living at a Manhattan Yoga studio, sleeping on a pile of blankets on the floor and started a daily, dedicated Yoga practice. I quickly noticed that Yoga wasn’t about force and pushing ahead, but about listening and paying attention. I finally began to work with my body—limitations and all—rather than competing with myself and others.
I also discovered that Yoga is an opportunity to bring more mindfulness into ourselves. I began to observe deeper thought patterns, beliefs and feelings; and it was through this mindful attention that I learned how strongly some of my beliefs impacted my day-to-day experience of myself and the world. Learning how to meet my most vulnerable feelings honestly—without judgement or criticism—allowed me to finally find a path towards healing and wholeness.
ll these discoveries are at the heart of my teaching now. I am excited to help my students feel more at home in their own bodies, understand how to work with limitations and also regard Yoga as an opportunity for change and personal growth.
I started teaching Yoga full-time in 2004 and offered classes in private and corporate settings, studios and gyms in New York City. After completing several certification courses to expand my knowledge, I felt increasingly drawn to the quieter side of Yoga and began to explore meditation in more depth. In 2011 I joined a silent retreat in Watsonville, CA where I met my future husband Mark.
Mark and I stumbled upon Twain Harte, a charming small town in the Sierra Foothills of California and spent our honeymoon in a small, run down cabin deep in the forest. Excited about a fresh start, we bought a vacant lot and started designing and building our own house, largely by ourselves. I founded Gold Country Yoga in 2013 have been teaching classes and workshops in the community ever since.
Mark is a longtime designer and builder; and creating this house and life here is a lifelong dream. His professional career was in visual effects in film and television; he won a Prime time Emmy Award for his work in television, and was closely involved on Academy Award-winning projects. Seeking some balance from a very demanding job, Mark started practicing Yoga and traveled whenever possible, most extensively in the East. Seeking more meaning he opened a small production company with his best friend and spent 10 years producing instructional Yoga videos. Talk about foreshadowing!
During the covid pandemic we began to create Yoga videos to maintain our livelihood and to support our students’ Yoga practice during this challenging time. Encouraged by an overwheling amount of positive feedback, we kept building and expanding our online offering and are thrilled to see our community grow.
fter exciting and challenging careers—and lots of traveling—we now enjoy a much quieter life. We keep getting closer to what’s really important to us and feel more and more comfortable letting go of what is not. Yoga and sharing these invaluable teachings with our local and online community continues to be the most meaningful part in our lives. But when we are not focused on Yoga we enjoy building things, spending time in the garden growing and cooking our own food, making pizza in our homemade pizza oven, playing with our four beautiful cats or taking a walk to the nearby swimming hole.
“Mindfulness allows us to shine a light on patterns that no longer serve us and helps us create the changes we seek.”
Ellen’s Professional Background
- Bachelor Degree of the Arts, Palucca University of Dance Dresden, Germany
- Scholarship, Academy for Theater and Dance Amsterdam, The Netherlands
- Freelance dancer and performer across Europe and New York City
- Certified Yoga Teacher at Atmananda Yoga, NYC, E-RYT 500
- Extensive teaching experience in group & private classes, corporate settings
- Personal meditation retreats with Vipassana and Adyashanti
- Workshops and Trainings in Shiatsu, Thai Yoga Massage, Fascia Release
- Additional Yoga Certifications: Restorative Yoga, Anatomy & Biomechanics, Prenatal Yoga, Meditation, Pranayama, Yin Yoga, Yoga for Grief, Trauma Sensitive Yoga, Yoga Therapy and Mindfulness
Gold Country Life: a Random Gallery
Join the adventurous duo as they carve a new, more sustainable life out of the woods in Twain Harte, CA. Highlights: building a house by themselves (from their own trees), growing and harvesting a lot of their own food, raising 4 cats and of course trying to run a Yoga studio during a global pandemic.