Four names two winners of Festival’s new writing prize – Connacht Tribune – Galway City Tribune:

Lifestyle – Portumna practitioner Ellen Baggs tells ELIZABETH GARNER and JIM HYNES how she combines her twin passions of yoga and farming, both of which she only fully embraced after moving to Ireland nearly two decades ago.

A Portumna-based yoga teacher found her love of all agricultural things when she moved to live in Ireland – and she now combines her twin passions in a most unique way.

Those who follow Ellen Baggs (@ellenbaggs) on Instagram will already be familiar with her fun photos featuring yoga poses and cows.

Ellen, who is of Dutch, Scottish and English descent, is an Iyengar yoga instructor at Portumna’s Muscle Mill gym who is passionate about fitness, flexibility and farming.

After studying Fashion & Costume Design in the UK, she worked as a costumier for cruise liners – something she admits was great fun and “allowed me to travel around the world twice, both forwards and backwards, missing and gaining a day!”

However, 17 years ago, she moved to Ireland and never looked back, even acquiring Irish citizenship.

Once in Ireland, Ellen became interested in farming and Iyengar (pronounced I-eng-guh) yoga. This may seem like an unusual combination, but it happened largely by accident.

“I am so grateful to have a friend with a farm! When I first come to Ireland, I wouldn’t get in a field of cows in case they stamped me. Now there is nothing better than going into a field of my weanlings and brushing them on a Spring or Summer day,” she says.

“Cows are the sweetest of animals. They all have such personalities and can be very affectionate. They are like big-hoofed dogs.”

Ellen is impressed with the hard work – both physical and mental – which goes into farming.

“It also really makes you appreciate nature and the seasons, and makes you think about what you have in life,” she says.

And that’s very similar to how Ellen feels about yoga.

Iyengar Yoga was developed by an Indian yoga teacher named BKS Iyengar. More than other forms of yoga, it has a particular emphasis on detail, precision and alignment. That makes it particularly popular with professional sports people and dancers.

Because of this, instructors must receive in-depth and ongoing training. They also require a detailed understanding of physiology similar to physiotherapists.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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