Emma Newlyn is a yoga teacher, Ayurvedic massage therapist, trained herbalist, wellbeing coach, and nature enthusiast. We talk to her about how she found Ayurveda, what Ayurvedic tips she’d offer to get through lockdown, and the full details of her early morning routine.
1. Where did your passion for Ayurvedic medicine come from?
As well as absorbing it from my teacher and mentor, I studied it in India and am a qualified Ayurvedic massage therapist, wellbeing coach and a trained herbalist. Due to the way I was brought up, Ayurveda was just a natural part of my life. I was surrounded by holistic practices and crystals from childhood so it just made sense to me.
Ayurveda helped me to see myself, and to become more attuned with nature – to have an alignment with the seasons and respect for my body. Ayurveda is similar to yoga in that it respects the differences between each body. Teaching it is wonderful, as you see people’s eyes light up.
2. How important is the role of mentorship in yoga teacher training?
Mentorship is a throwback to the more traditional way to do yoga teacher training, with a guru and student. I think it’s important as there are now so many easily accessible courses you can find on social media.
I was just reading Yuval Harari’s 21 lessons for the 21st Century and he says: ‘In a world deluged by irrelevant information, clarity is power.’ When you have a mentor, the learning is deeper and more experiential.
3. What’s your early morning routine?
I wake up at 6 am every day in order to allow my body to have a natural sleep-cycle rhythm. In fact, I often find I wake up just before my alarm goes off. I start with some tongue scraping, and then I do some oil pulling. [Oil pulling is an ancient cleansing technique that involves moving oil around in the mouth to remove bacteria and toxins]. The oil I use depends on how I’m feeling, so castor oil or coconut oil is cooling, and sesame oil is a good general oil.
I’ll combine the oil pulling with some stretching, and then brush my teeth afterwards. For the last four or five months, I’ve been using gua sha shaped stones to massage my face [often made of jade or quartz] as well as facial oil* massage. Then I’ll have a mug of warm water and lemon.
During lockdown, I’ve also had time to do some dry body brushing to invigorate the body, followed by a Wim Hoff-style cold shower.
When I have time (i.e don’t have an early morning class), I’ll meditate and do pranayama for twenty minutes, followed by a large coffee [phew, she’s human] and then go for a walk in the local woods for around an hour.
4. How have you found the transition to teaching online yoga classes during the lockdowns?
The positives are that you don’t have to go anywhere. Before lockdown, I was cycling or getting the train every week to get from class to class, which was tiring. I’ve also found a new audience through Instagram and have connected to new students around the world who’ve never done yoga before.
The downside to online yoga is that I miss being around people, and walking into busy gyms and studios and getting that buzz of energy.
5. What are your top self-care tips during lockdown?
It depends on whether you’re feeling stressed or lethargic. But to find balance during this time the simple answer is to live more in tune with nature. It’s really clichéd but really simple.
Get up and open the door or the window to let your body know it’s daytime. Eat seasonally. And in the evenings start to wind down so that your body has time to become calm before bed.
6. How can we detox from screens during lockdown?
It’s hard at the moment, but try not to be on screens when you don’t have to be. For example, don’t habitually opt for TV in the evenings. Be aware of how you’re using your eyes, as they can start to get irritated. To help with this, use an eye pillow over the eyes, or a nice tip is to put two teaspoons in the fridge and then place them gently over the eyelids. Try to have a day a week without screens – and review your habits regularly.
7. What’s the secret to your success?
To be honest, there is no secret. I’ve always just been me, and I’ve never pretended to be some perfect yogi person. I think when you’re teaching or writing from a non-authentic place people can tell. I’ve only really taught what I really know.
With my writing, I’ve always found it comes naturally. I can sit down for twenty minutes and write loads. The other side to this is that I’m a naturally driven person and I push myself quite a lot. Sometimes I need to balance that out.
8. So how do you relax?
As I said, relaxing doesn’t come naturally to me – I actually need to practice relaxing. I did a restorative yoga teacher training course and had never done anything like that before. My whole nervous system reset – it was a real eye-opener. Getting out in nature is important for me. We’re right next to a forest, which is cooling and relaxing. I also knit, which I find really calming. My mum taught me and I find it’s a way to focus my mind, but on something totally unrelated to work.
9. What are your self-limiting beliefs and how do you combat them?
I’ve always been very self-conscious about my body. It’s really limited what I could be or do, or how successful I could be. I’ve always been quite shy about what people think of me. Ayurveda has helped me so much, as it has taught me to respect my needs – to rest and eat more, and to listen to my body. Being in nature is also a good reminder that what other people think doesn’t matter. Nature doesn’t care what you look like. And we’re part of that.
10. When we’re finally allowed to leave the country where will you be heading and why?
Last year we had booked to go to New York and that was cancelled, so it would be nice to head there. We’d also booked to go to Peru, so maybe there too.
I also really fancy going back to L.A. where we went the year before. We did a road trip around California and took in Las Vegas, L.A., Joshua Tree and I’d love to explore that more. Plus Yosemite National Park and the mountains, forests and waterfalls there.
There’s also Nepal, which I’d love to go back to. It has a very different energy, as it’s so connected to the mountains and nature and I loved it.
We were also meant to get married last year, so I’d love to do that too!
*If you’d like to try the Ayurvedic facial oils that Emma uses click on the link and add EMMA10 at the checkout to get 10% off.
If you’ve been intrigued by this article, Emma is providing online Ayurveda & Wellbeing Therapy sessions throughout lockdown. These sessions help each person understand their dosha and where they may be out of balance, as well as providing them with a guide to the best daily practices, foods, herbs, and small lifestyle tweaks that can help them get back to feeling their best naturally.