“After six years of teaching, I realised I knew nothing. I felt I needed to know more about illnesses and conditions and I was one of five people to train to become a yoga therapist at the time,” says Elma.
This knowledge, she says, totally changed her practice and her own teaching of yoga changed too. “I became more anatomy-centred. When I meet limitations in the body now, I know how to modify the posture to make it simple,” she says.
As she met limitations in her classes, she was able to adapt the moves for people and found she loved this and what it did for people who couldn’t believe what they were able to do. In the late 1990s Elma and a few colleagues set up Yoga Therapy Ireland to train yoga teachers here.
When her daughters flew the nest – both Isabel and Catriona, her husband and two children are living in Australia – Elma and Patsy began to feel their home was too big for them. And while they’d always been regular visitors to Donegal, they started to spend more time in Inishowen.
While Patsy worked in development education, he was also very involved in the music scene and already had many friends and acquaintances. However Elma felt she would have to do find her own way to get to know people in the area. Teaching yoga in Clonmany was her way of reaching out to people.
“I really just wanted to be able to say hello to people in the shop – I wasn’t looking for a best friend. I also wanted to do a little bit of yoga. I started off with two classes and that went to three and then five,” she says.
While these classes can be especially good for people with limitations, Elma says the chair is underrated as a prop and when you do yoga in a chair you are learn about breathing so much easier.
“I want to share my passion for yoga. Learning yoga is a life skill – what is there not to like? It’s about maintaining your body as you get into your older years too. I love seeing people blossom,” she says.