No-one has the answers for everything but Ellen McNeil believes she has the answers for some of the most important things. Her solutions might not make you better but they will help you be better at life she told Kimberley Price
IT'S THE STRANGEST thing but the minute you step into Well Soul Studio you start to feel a sense of calm.
And that's before you even meet the woman at the heart of it all.
Ellen McNeil is incredibly disarming, so gentle and welcoming it's easy to understand where the vibes are coming from.
She is so immediately soothing it is hard to believe she can maintain that aura given her decidedly hectic schedule.
With yoga classes starting as early as 6 am — and running until as late as 7 pm — and fitting in chiropractic clients of all ages, and managing others through float sessions, every day must seem like a challenge.
But over the years Ellen has started to become aware of her self — her whole self.
While this may sound simple, and probably a quality we all possess, it is a feat for anyone to master as we are always changing and evolving.
But by becoming aware of ourselves, as Ellen will attest, the impracticalities of life become simpler.
And while she'll say she still has learning to do, becoming aware of her is one of the most important lessons she's learnt — and one she hopes others can incorporate into the day to day life of her clients.
“I do all the things I tell others to do,” she said.
“I float, I do yoga, I get fresh air, sunshine, I drink plenty of water, I move around, I get adjusted and have massage and I use essential oils.
“I also have great people around me and I do simpler things like just spending time with my husband.
“But I'm still the same as everyone, I have my bad days.”
Growing up in Albury, Ellen lost her father when she was just 15.
Guided throughout the majority of her teenage and adult years by her mother, and with her younger brother, with whom she shares a very close relationship, Ellen left school and threw herself into tertiary studies.
Starting off in a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy at Charles Sturt University in her home town, Ellen soon sought advice about chiropractic and then jumped ship to a Bachelor of Science at RMIT; followed by a Masters in Clinical Practice of Chiropractic.
She completed eight years study, which saw her branch out into niche areas of study including a Diplomate of Chiropractic Neuro-Developmental Paediatrics and training in yoga.
“Chiropractic school was full on,” she said.
“It's five years of study and I'd done a year of OT before so I'd been at university for six years when I'd finished.
“And then I did the diplomate, which was another two years.
“That was all neurology and why we do what we do in our first two years of life.
“I've always asked why? Why do we do this or why does this happen?
“Our brains are phenomenal.”
Ellen came to Echuca in 2012 for work. After juggling a job and travel for her studies, Ellen's career direction shifted.
Wanting a large dedicated space to combine yoga, chiropractic, floating and other aspects of health, Ellen's Well Soul Studio was born.
Today Ellen doesn't just practice everything she preaches, she lives it.
She promotes the regular use of essential oils, yoga classes and chiropractic appointments to combat prevalent issues in areas such as stress, concentration and relaxing.
“It's the chronic stresses, like lifestyle, pollution in the environment, toxic relationships and other high intensity areas of our lives that have such an impact on us,” she said.
“Unpacking that with a person helps a lot.
“For me yoga brings out the issue, chiropractic allows you to cope better with the situations, with the nervous system in alignment and brings awareness and the oils allow us to process.
“I have a lot of trust in the doTerra essential oils — they're 100 per cent pure.
“I first discovered essential oils as a youngster because I had terrible allergies.
“I used to look in the mirror and only see my skin. I'd think, your skin's bad or you're flaking and gross and that was all I'd see.
“People wouldn't recognise me now.
“But essential oils do more; they provide awareness and are really important emotional wise.
“The oils relate directly to our limbic system which connects directly to our emotional health.
“So you can smell oil and it can bring up a memory or a feeling for you and you are then aware of that to work through the issue or with an area.
“In my job I feel a lot of other people's emotions and I have to process and differentiate my own and the oils really help me with that.”
Throughout her life, Ellen's fascination with discovering how and why humans work and has led her to focus on the development of babies and children.
Through incorporating adjustments and yoga for young ones, Ellen has been able to see a massive change in some children.
“Bubs are the future,” she said.
“Kids go through a lot of trauma — they go to school, they learn, there's a lot of change.
“We don't make any new brain connections after those first few years of life so development is really crucial — although our neuroplasticity (ability to rewire our pathways) can change.
“I see a skewed variation of kids — the ones who are fortunate to come in.
“But I still see kids who are anxious, overwhelmed, who don't know how to express themselves, how to cope within themselves as well as kids who have learning/developmental troubles.
“But if their nervous systems are functioning well, they can cope better with everyday life.
“It's not necessarily that they're better but they can do life better.”
While there are so many different components that make up Ellen — where from the outside she appears to be a superwoman who somehow manages to run and continue to grow her popular business while remaining cool, calm and collected — she simply puts her balanced life down to being self-aware.
An essential life-lesson she'll pass onto anyone who wants to hear.
“In our society today, I see it all the time — we don't know how we work anymore,” she said.
“We've actually lost how to track our emotions, our cycles and our being-ness.
“Half of us go and smash ourselves at the gym because it makes us 'feel better' but then we lose ourselves in food because we don't know what's actually good for ourselves.
“We're losing our sense of self and who we are.
“People always say 'I don't have time, I'm too busy, I'm this, and I'm that' — but all I hear is that they're saying 'I'm not a priority' and saying that to yourself is pretty harsh.
“Yet that's what people are doing to themselves every day.
“If we're not health conscious and we're not aware, everything becomes harder.
“Self-care doesn't have to be materialistic or hard, it should be just what you need and we should be congratulating each other on the small wins just as much as the larger ones.
“We need to focus on ourselves.
“There are a lot of things we don't know why they are.
“But it's how we are wired and you can choose how you respond to things.
“And it's really interesting how we choose to be.”