12. Earth-Centered Living, Holding Space and Self-Care with Elise Tassell

episode description & show notes

Harriet is joined by Elise Tassell.

Elise Tassell is a hair stylist and yoga teacher based in Oxford, she is part of Nourish’s teaching faculty and from Spring 2022, you’ll be able to find her new home, Sun Moon & Scissors, within Every Body Studio in East Oxford.

Elise and Harriet  talked about the similarities between yoga and hair dressing, living in an earth-centred way, and explored the eternal question of whether an Aries can ever chill.

You can find Elise here:

Read the full transcript:

SUMMARY KEYWORDS
yoga teacher, people, oxford, hairdressing, feel, hairdressers, teaching, yoga, talking, living, home, life, nourish, moved, space, house, hairstylist, boat, elise

SPEAKERS
Harriet McAtee, Elise Tassell.

Harriet McAtee
Welcome to In our experience, a podcast exploring the many ways of living well with Nourish Yoga Training. I’m your host Harriet, yoga teacher and founder of Nourish. Today I’m joined by Elise Tassell. Elise is a hairstylist and yoga teacher based in Oxford. She is part of Nourishes teaching faculty, and from Spring 2022, You’ll be able to find her at her new home Sun Moon and Scissors, within Every Body Yoga Studio in East Oxford. I had such a fabulous time talking to Elise. She’s one of my dear friends, as well as being a wonderful yoga teacher and hairstylist. We talked about the similarities between yoga and hairdressing, living in an earth centred way and exploring the eternal question of whether an Aries can ever chill. I’m so excited to share this episode with you. And as always, we’d love to hear what you think. So do pop us a message or an email; you can find how to contact us in the show notes. Right onto my chat with Elise, Hi Elise. Welcome to in our experience. It’s lovely to have you here. How are you doing?

Elise Tassell
I’m pretty good. Yeah, good. Yeah, I’ve been rushing around a bit this morning. So I’m kind of, I’m arriving.

Harriet McAtee
You’re arriving?

Elise Tassell
Yeah, I’ve arrived.

Harriet McAtee
Well, well, to help you arrive. We will. We’ll start with a question that I start every podcast with which is what’s nourishing you this week? And this can be anything really small, serious, silly, and I will share mine first to help you out. So my nourishing thing is, over the weekend, I moved my boat to a different spot. I know. It’s the first time. I say I moved. I mean, my landlord moved the boat for me. But, um, it’s the first time I have had the boat in a different spot since I moved on. And it was so nice. It felt like being on holiday. Even though I was working all weekend. Just being somewhere else was really refreshing. So I feel inspired to ensure that I take advantage of the fact that I can move my home more this year and be in different spaces. I’m back in my usual mooring now. But it was just it was a really lovely little break. So that’s what’s nourishing me. What about you?

Elise Tassell
Um, I think it’s food. Always food, but especially this week, and particularly food cooked by other people. So I often work in the evenings and coming back, this, yesterday day before my housemate this like amazing meal. And like just arriving home to that and like it being unexpected was such a nice thing to have. And like Toby also cooks for me on a regular basis when I’m working late. So I feel like it’s part of the structure that kind of supports me to do the work that I do, which is like when people can cook for me,

Harriet McAtee
That’s so nice. I almost never get cooked for, I know. So, I’m very jealous. That being said, I did get cooked for on the weekend. And it was glorious. And, and this person cooked for me on my own boat. So it wasn’t like I had gone to somebody’s house, like a friend’s house, and they cooked for me. Somebody came and cooked for me on my boat. It was a delight. I sort of had to like, let go of my you know, you know, control-freak tendencies but. I’m such an Aries sometimes I’m like, Oh, you’re in my kitchen. And I feel a bit uncomfortable about this like, but it was it was really lovely. So you’re being nourished by other people.

Elise Tassell
Yep.

Harriet McAtee
That’s great. That’s wonderful. I love this. So speaking of supporting your work, Tell me Tell us a little bit about your background and how you would describe what you do.

Elise Tassell
Wow, that feels like a really good question. I’m like delving into my history and my mind. So background. Well, I’ve been a hairdresser or hairstylist for a really long time. It’s actually 20 years in April. Well, since I’ve been in the industry, so I was still training back then. But yeah, since I entered into the industry and so it started a long time ago, and my my kind of work background and I opened my own hair salon when I was about 19 So in 2007, and that was kind of what led me to becoming a yoga teacher because the stress of running an independent business at an age where like most of my friends were going to university. Yeah, it was, it was a really full-on experience, like probably the most intense experience of my life. And thankfully, I discovered yoga at a point where I was kind of reaching a bit of like meltdown. And so yeah, I did yoga; yoga saved my life, as all yoga teachers say. And then, I wanted to pass on what I learned to other people. So I became a teacher. And yeah, I guess it’s that desire to offer the things that have benefited me to others. So that’s how I’ve ended up with these kind of two different strands to my work. So I’m still very much a hairstylist that’s like the bulk of my day to day work. And I’m a cycling hairstylist, which is my unique feature in my work. And also, I teach for Nourish as well, which I think Harriet mentioned.

Harriet McAtee
Yeah. Yes, if you ever see somebody cycling around Oxford wearing an orange jacket with orange bike bags, then that’s probably Elise.

Elise Tassell
generally always a lot of orange.

Harriet McAtee
It’s a good colour.

Elise Tassell
I always feel like the least glamorous hairdresser. Like I always look like I’m going on a hike.

Harriet McAtee
You’re just prepared. You’re like you’re you’re fit. You also have to cope with the weather in a way that, like other hairstylists don’t right, in cycling through wind and rain and snow.

Elise Tassell
Hence why my hair never done either.

Harriet McAtee
Oh, wow, that’s, that’s that’s fascinating. And I think as well, you know, you’re also is now starting to do work that brings those two spheres together and sort of offering yoga and wellness specifically for hairstylists. No?

Elise Tassell
Yeah. Yeah. So it’s a very tiny seed baby thing at the moment. It’s, it’s a kind of recent dream, actually. And I think I’d been feeling quite scattered in my life and my work and I have these kind of different things going on. There’s a few other bits and pieces as well as the hairdressing and yoga, and I was like, How can I and like, I have some unique skills here? And like, how could I bring those together. And I’m aware that the hairdressing industry is still an area of the world has not really been touched by the wellness movement, or and, and so I feel like, like self-care in hairdressing is kind of overlooked like getting a lunch break is unusual. And we’re spending a lot of time in like, very, like close contact with people. And we’re sharing intimate details of their lives. And we can take on a lot of emotional stuff, as well as it being a very physical job. And I feel like yoga has a lot to offer to that world. So it’s, it’s more in a kind of researchy stage at the moment. And being an independent stylist, I don’t have a huge wealth of like network really yet. And so that’s what I’m doing at the moment is just putting out little feelers, hoping to talk to other stylists about what they struggle within our industry, and then working out how I can bring my skills to that.

Harriet McAtee
That sounds so interesting and really rewarding and juicy to sort of, like bring these two halves or two parts of your work together. The sort of the the way that people relate to their hairdressers is really interesting to me because people will like my impression anyway is that people will, sort of like yoga teachers, people will say things to their hairdressers or say things to their yoga teachers that they wouldn’t say to anybody else. And you sort of end up becoming this, like, pseudo therapist for them, and like yoga teachers are not therapists, and neither are hairdressers. But you’re in this sort of like, what could we call like this trusted role? Right?

Elise Tassell
Yeah. Yeah, it’s a really interesting point. And actually, after the first lockdown, this really hit home for me more than ever before in that there were people that I see who don’t live with other people who’ve been alone for a long period of time, who weren’t seeing their families, but still welcomed me into their homes. And they have; they’re also not touched by anybody. And so I just had this real, like, coming home kind of moment of realising that. It’s what I do is so important in people’s lives. And that therapeutic aspect, I think, it’s the touch and the talk and being very present with one person in a world of like distraction where a lot of people are not really present with each other. It’s quite a it’s like quite a unique job.

Harriet McAtee
It’s really Unique. And also there’s something around like hair being, I mean, I know how obsessed I am with my hair. But like

Elise Tassell
I should also add I am Harriet’s hairdresser.

Harriet McAtee
Elise is my hairdresser. She does a great job, anybody that’s like, your hair’s lovely. I’m like; I can take your credit. It’s all Elise. You know, it’s a real, it’s something. So, I mean, I can only speak from my experience, but it’s so deeply personal, like, but it’s also a space where people, people may not have many forms of self-care in their life, but like most people will get a haircut.

Elise Tassell
Yeah, yeah, you’re totally right.

Harriet McAtee
And, you know, you could have somebody that literally does nothing else for themselves, but they will have like, a six weekly haircut booked in without fail. So it becomes this really like, precious space. Yeah. Um, how interesting. And I guess as well, like the similarities in terms of, you know, boundaries and sharing things really crosses over with yoga teaching, because, I mean, I’m not sure about what your experience has been like. But I’ve definitely had students sort of confide and share with me in ways that is often really quite surprising. And you’re like, oh, I’m the person you want to talk to you about this? Okay, how are we going to navigate this together? So there’s a lot of crossovers there between, like, they’re both caring in caring professions in a way, aren’t they?

Elise Tassell
Yeah. I really get that.

Harriet McAtee
So I’m interested in sort of what, I guess what values you’re bringing to your teaching? And like, do you see? Do you see that there’s like, crossover, like, do you have values for your teaching? Or your hairdressing? Are they separate? Are they the same? Like, what? What drives you in those fields?

Elise Tassell
There’s definitely crossover. And I’ve only started thinking that I used to keep things very separate. And I’ve only started to think about those crossovers more recently, as I tried to bring these two pieces together. And I think one of we’ve already covered a lot of this already, but one of the pieces is about people. And I’m not sure quite how to put that into words. But both of those jobs are with people, you know, in a very, how do I put it, I want to say intimate, but it’s not quite the right word. It’s, yeah, it’s it’s, it’s working closely with other human beings on a very regular basis. And it’s about communication with those people. I mean, teaching is for sure about communicating. And hairdressing is massively about that, as well. So communication with human beings is one of those values, and being like, I strive to be good at that, like, I want to be good at all I want to better myself in that field of being able to help people get there what they need across in hairdressing. And also, for me to be able to get across the pieces of yoga that I’m trying to help people to understand, to bring into their lives. So there’s communication. And then I think the other thing is that I’m really, I’ve called it earth centred over the years, and I quite like that word for it. But I think it means slightly different things in each part of my work. With yoga, it’s about like honouring the seasons, and the time of day when I’m teaching, kind of thinking about what’s happening in the earth, as I’m, as I’m teaching, and then with hairdressing, it’s more about how can I make my work, low impact and gentle on the environment? So that’s like using organic colours or trying to reduce my waste and things like that. So yeah, there’s a crossover. But it’s, it means different things in each realm. I think those are probably, oh actually, one thing, one other thing and that’s presence. So being present in both of those roles feels like almost possibly the most important thing. And I think I mentioned earlier about this thing about being in a quite distracted world. And presence is a really valuable thing to offer somebody like sometimes it doesn’t have to be anything else. Like you don’t have to say necessarily the right thing. And maybe actually that talks to that thing you were saying about what when someone brings something to you, and you’re not quite sure how to navigate it like presence is often like all it needs.

Harriet McAtee
Mmm, Yeah, there’s something about just being there and listening and holding that space like being one of the things I’m talking I talk about a lot in, in trainings more so in the in the sort of 300 hour or CPD spaces is how a lot of what we do as yoga teachers is like creating a container. So we create a container that students do their own stuff in. But a lot of our work is around like that boundary setting and that space holding, so we become a container for the practice. And that’s why our self-care as yoga teachers is so important, because if you’re not able to hold that container in a way that feels good, both for you and the students, and you start to get into sort of sticky situations, right? Yeah. And it must be exactly the same for hairdressers.

Elise Tassell
Yes. Yeah. And actually, that gets more difficult from a practical sense when you’re in people’s houses. Hmm, yeah.

Harriet McAtee
How so?

Elise Tassell
I guess the kind of things you’re holding when you’re holding that container as a yoga teacher is like timing. And, like, generally, like practicalities, around the space, as well as the environment you create with the way that you teach. And I think that from the practical side of things, like when you enter into someone’s home, those boundaries kind of dissolve a little bit like you’re kind of, it’s harder to keep to time because you’re in their everyday space. It’s they often don’t, some people do, but like, there’s a kind of sense of it not necessarily being a workplace. Yeah, it’s and you kind of sharing in the intimate details of people’s lives. Like people cooking for their kids, it’s, yeah, you see a lot like a new kind of absorb a lot just being in in someone else’s space.

Harriet McAtee
I think that’s really interesting. One of the things that it took me a while to adjust to in lockdown in the shift to online teaching was having people see my home.

Elise Tassell
Yeah

Harriet McAtee
Because home, like home, is something that is so deeply important to me. And it’s also something that I have quite a complicated relationship with like I moved a lot as a child. And then recently, I went through a year where I think I, I moved like, six times, like including living with you for a period of time and like house sitting before I moved on to the boat. So when, when I sort of moved onto the boat and it started to feel like my home, I felt quite uncomfortable for quite a long time about students being able to see into my space because I was like, um, I wasn’t ready for it to be a workplace and it sort of it had to be, but it’s always something that I actually acknowledge now, when I teach on Zoom, I’m like, we’re in each other’s homes, and we need to be like, we need to acknowledge that, like, it just needs to be aired, and then we can move on. But I’m always a little bit like, you know, I feel it’s, I feel vulnerable around it in a way that has gotten easier with time, but I was really uncomfortable with, to begin with, for sure.

Elise Tassell
I really hear that. I really hear that. And like this when I was doing teaching on Zoom, and for Nourish as well. It was in my bedroom. And I you know, I live with other people. So it’s it felt kind of, it feels odd. And I quite often forget and then when someone makes a comment about your space, like. Oh, I really liked the colour of your wall, and you’re like, Oh, you can see my bedroom. Also, like, I used to have to do like, like, last-minute cleans, and Harriet can vouch that like I’m not the tidiest person. I wouldn’t be like; I can’t have to teach like 15 minutes like shove everything into a cupboard.

Harriet McAtee
Oh, yeah, no, I don’t think you give yourself enough credit. Like, okay, maybe I can; maybe Elise isn’t that tidy? But I think one of my favourite things about living with you is I was like, I got to do all the dishes. Which is fine, because I really I really like doing dishes. There were always plenty to do.

Elise Tassell
Oh, I feel like I’ve got better since you lived with me.

Harriet McAtee
I think you have. Yeah, I think living with more people has helped the situation.

Elise Tassell
Yeah, you have to be so much more on top of your stuff.

Harriet McAtee
Definitely, I do miss those days; I think of it very fondly.

Elise Tassell
Me to

Harriet McAtee
But um, one day, we’ll just live in like a coven.

Elise Tassell
Yeah. Like what are they called like a community?

Harriet McAtee
Yeah. Community House.

Elise Tassell
Yeah,

Harriet McAtee
With lots of land. Or maybe we’ll have land, and we’ll each have our own like little pod houses on it.

Elise Tassell
That’s a great idea.

Harriet McAtee
Yeah. I’m here for it. Anybody wants to come join our commune in like a non-culty way?

Elise Tassell
Yeah. The thing is, they almost always end up getting culty. I don’t know if that many that successfully didn’t become a cult.

Harriet McAtee
It’s true. It is an unfortunate truth. I wonder why that is there’s something about like, maybe they just don’t have good boundaries around how you live together in those spaces? I don’t know; I think we could do it quite well. But I will say I think one of the one of the things that I know that we often talk about as well is sort of these ways of living. Because we both really love Oxford. But we also go through phases recently, you put it really well, and it’s really stuck with me. You’re like, I’m a bit angry at Oxford at the moment. And I was like, I hear that. Yeah. Because it’s so expensive to live here.

Elise Tassell
Yeah.

Harriet McAtee
And, yeah, sometimes, like, I just can’t like it’s hard to see a way forward with it in a way.

Elise Tassell
Yeah. Yeah. As someone who is like born and raised in Oxford, I, and I’ve stayed here my whole life, I haven’t moved away or anything. And I’m at a stage in my life where I’d quite like to buy a house at some point, which is a privileged place to be in to even to be able to think about that. But every time I look at house prices, I just kind of crumble inside a bit it. Just yeah, it’s it’s really tough. And actually, so I used to live on a bus. And I’ve lived in a mobile home before. And so I’ve kind of tried these different ways of living that would enable me to have a little bit more money to save. Yeah, I get it; hence, I get angry about.

Harriet McAtee
I know. But it’s so nice to live here. It’s like it’s like an abusive relationship, in a sense. I mean, not that I wish to, like, minimise anybody who has experienced an abusive relationship at all. But I do feel this sort of like, like there’s a push-pull with Oxford, for me, which there’s a tension, like, I really love living here. But there’s a tension around living here as well. But yeah, it’s interesting, but it does. I think Oxford does have some, it has some beautiful places, and it has some really beautiful people. And I think that’s why I’ve stayed, you know? Right. Well, I think one of the things I wanted to circle back around to was the earth centred idea that you were talking about because, firstly, I think that’s a really beautiful way to put that. And I really hear how it is showing up in different ways and in the things that you do. Because it’s also one of the things I think that I’m most associated with you like, it’s something that you really, you really embody, and you spend a lot of time thinking about and living, living out, but also in a way that I think, feels quite second nature to you. Like, it’s something you’ve obviously been practising and thinking about for a long time. So it just sort of like comes out. I was talking to somebody recently that was sort of asking me about what living on the boat, what living on the boat is, like, well, I end up talking about living on the boat a lot. But, um, but one of the things I said to them was how, like, one of my favourite things about living on the boat is how connected into the seasons you are and into the weather, because in a way that you don’t get living the house. And maybe there’s there’s something in there, you know, about living on the bus and things like that for you. But, you know, it does; I do live differently in the seasons, like in winter, I’m in bed a lot earlier, and I sleep more. And then in the summer, you know, it’ll be like full daylight at 6 am in my bedroom. And I’m like, awake, and then I’m like more active during the day. And that definitely flows through into the way that I work in my teaching as well. So I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about how that shows up for you in? In your, your work your practice? Yeah.

Elise Tassell
Hmm. Wow, that’s a really; it feels like a deep question. Yeah, I really hear what you were saying about the like living on a boat. And I’ve just like, moved into a house for the first time in a few years. And I keep getting shocked when I go outside at the temperature. Like if it’s raining, I can’t hear the rain anymore. And it does feel slightly like disconnecting from those things. In some ways, it’s great, you know, like, I’m enjoying the heating and all that kind of stuff. But I think I’m going to have to make a little bit of extra effort to keep that sense of being connected to, to what’s happening on the ground on that side of me. But one of the ways that I do that is is tracking my menstrual cycle. And I’ve been doing that now for maybe about like six, seven years or something, And that feels like something that makes me very aware that I’m connected to something outside of myself. So I’ve noticed things like fluctuations around the moon cycle, like changes around different seasons, and how all these different things influence my body. And, and so I find that really, I mean, it’s a fascinating practice, and also one that just keeps me like every day, you know, I’m noticing changes in my body. And I think that’s probably my main underlying practice that keeps that connection. And then, I think in my yoga practice, it’s like grounding and being connected to the to the earth; it’s probably one of the main features of the way that I teach in the way that I practice. Yeah.

Harriet McAtee
Ah, lovely, yeah, I think that’s so like, the way that we there’s something about marking time that I think things like cycle tracking really, you know, assist, assist with, and also like, it sort of loops back into that presence that you’re talking about as well because it’s so easy to feel disconnected and sort of dissociated from ourselves and also from like, the earth and like nature more generally. One of the things I was thinking about as you were talking about moving into a house for the first time was that I so I get really excited about houses for about six hours. So anytime, anytime. Anytime I go and visit a friend who lives in a house, and I’m staying overnight or whatever, for about six hours. I’m like, Oh, my goodness, like it’s so warm the internet so fast. Like they have a sofa. There’s a TV, like a dishwasher, washing machine.
I’m like, Wow, amazing. And then, at about the six-hour mark, I’m like I feel dead inside. I need to leave. Because houses to me now. I feel claustrophobic in them really easily because I’m used to sort of feeling nature on all sides. Like literally like I have, there are windows on both sides of my boat, plus I have skylights. So I’m used to like feeling nature right there with me. But yes, so houses feel claustrophobic. And then they also just feel like, yeah, like there’s a dead energy to those spaces like that feels like quite strong language, but it’s how it really shows up in, in my body for me. And I’ve been in some houses that don’t feel dead, obviously. But I’m like, oh, so like, as much as sometimes living on the boat is like, it’s a joy. But it does add more work to my life. When I when I think about living in a house, I’m like, oh, it’s going to take a special house for me to like, be convinced to live in one, and probably I’ll grumble about it constantly. But there are there are plus sides. Like I think when I think back to the first lockdown, one of the things that really supported me and really resourced to me was the fact that I was living on a boat. And I could just be outside. And I mean, the weather was so good. And I think about how I would have managed and felt about that time if I had been living in a flat or living in a house. And I think I would have found it so much more challenging.

Elise Tassell
Yeah.

Harriet McAtee
But what was what was lockdown like for you? Because I think you, you are in two professions that were just like done.

Elise Tassell
Yeah,

Harriet McAtee
You just weren’t; you couldn’t, either of them.

Elise Tassell
Yeah, I reckon there was like nearly seven or eight months or something where I wasn’t really working in the way that I would normally—so really big chunk of time.

Harriet McAtee
Is that the longest time in your adult life? You’ve not worked?

Elise Tassell
Oh, yeah, for sure. Yeah, for sure.

Harriet McAtee
How was that?

Elise Tassell
Um, in some ways, like, I feel like, for my hairdressing work, it’s given me this kind of renewed passion. It’s amazing to have that kind of break from something that enables you to come back to it with fresh eyes. So I’m kind of grateful for that. And I think it gave me a bit of time to reflect on how much work I was doing before. And I, you know, I have a lot of things I’m really passionate about. And so I was doing a lot of things like, you know, lots of yoga classes and workshops, and I was running the Oxford Ecstatic Dance. And all of those things come with admin. So I had a lot going on in my life, and suddenly there was almost nothing. So I don’t; I hope that I won’t go back to doing too many things in the way that I was before. I’m still trying to kind of be aware of my work-life balance. And I think I’m just gonna keep just striving to allocate enough time for me amongst all of the other things I do. I think it’s going to be a lifelong project that the work-life balance thing, but, but hopefully, I’ll keep, like, moving on an upward trajectory.

Harriet McAtee
Yeah. Well, it’s, it’s it’s one of the things that I’m really I think I’ve it’s been a big journey big, like, pathway for me for the past few years as well. I feel like this is like a especially Aries problem as well. Yeah. Because we’re so like, all or nothing must be the best.

Elise Tassell
Yes.

Harriet McAtee
Letting go of that. Yeah, like learning to integrate it or soften around in a different way. It’s just not it’s just not in our nature.

Elise Tassell
No, I totally. I Yeah. I feel like a very Aries person, and I totally feel that.

Harriet McAtee
Oh, wonderful. Well, we are approaching the end of our time; it always goes so quickly. So where can where can people find you?

Elise Tassell
So I’m kind of in a bit of a transition stage in my work at the moment. And so I have a web website address I’m going to give, but it’s not live yet. And so that’s sunmoonandscissors.com, and then there’s also a Sun Moon scissors Instagram page. And I also have my, my old Instagram, which is kind of my yoga-ey, work stuff on there. And that’s @elise.tassell. I guess you’ll link it, so I don’t need to try and spell it.

Harriet McAtee
We will link it definitely. Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for joining me today, Elise. It’s been a total joy. Thank you. Thanks for listening to in our experience. Don’t forget to subscribe, rate and review the podcast. We love hearing what you think, and it makes a really big difference. In the meantime, until the next episode comes out. Why not? Check us out on our Instagram account @nourishyogatraining, or pop us an email via the website. See you soon

 

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