Ellen Mosko remembers being an active child. She loved doing gymnastics on the lawn and riding bikes with her friends. In high school she ran track and she continued to run and stretch for exercise and stress relief in college. It was during that time that she first learned what a sun salutation was. “A friend was gathering a small group of people to participate in a project she was working on for one of her physical education classes,” Ellen explains, “and we spent the month of January learning yoga from her twice a week. She handed out a sheet with a diagram of a sun salutation, and all I can say is the image struck a deep chord and stayed with me. I remember pulling out that sheet many times over the years.”
About twenty years later Ellen began attending a local yoga class. “It felt familiar and welcoming,” she says. “After a few years of practice, I found my way to a yoga studio offering a teacher training. I didn't know the style—Sivananda—but the studio was close enough to our home that my husband and I would still be able to navigate the schedules of our two teens while I was doing the training and he was working. After my first evening of training I knew that my career in finance was over. I had discovered my love of yoga philosophy.”
Ellen started teaching at a chiropractic office shortly after the training and soon realized that she needed to learn more therapeutic skills to support her students. She continued her yoga studies at the Himalayan Institute and then went on to do numerous trainings in a variety of traditions and styles—Iyengar, Anusara, vinyasa, restorative, and yin.
About her evolution as a teacher, Ellen says, “I’ve grown through teaching, from my experience as a student, and from life itself. Nothing prepares you for being a parent; yoga has helped me navigate challenging times with my family. And real life issues come up in the classroom all the time. I decided to study back care because my students needed support in that area. My desire now is to help each student actively move their body into a place where it can restoratively rest. In other words, I teach embodied alignment.”
“I also don’t have the desire to move that quickly anymore; I’ve gained a certain maturity after practicing for so many years. I have no qualms with the faster practices—I just think our practices shift over time. I look more toward ayurveda and the seasons for what I practice and teach, so if it’s late spring, then I might want to take a sweaty vinyasa class to move the kapha out.”
When asked what else inspires her yoga, Ellen talks about being moved by lessons of resilience and hope in nature. “We often visit family in California and we stay in Malibu. After the heartbreak of the fires of 2018 where so much was destroyed it’s incredible to see the rebirth in this area. For me, this relates to the human spirit and our ability to pick ourselves up, dust off, and begin again. I see this quality in the people I teach.
Some of my longtime students recently related how they were using yoga postures during the workday to relieve discomfort in their lower backs. Another student told me that during a recent stressful moment she turned to using breathwork as a coping tool. Anecdotes like these help me refine my offerings toward practices that are useful for daily living. I'm inspired by the students I teach. It takes bravery to try new things.”
In addition to her classes on Yoga International, Ellen teaches public and private classes, trainings, and workshops in the New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania area. She offers mentoring sessions to certified teachers and particularly loves to guide them to cultivate and deepen their unique voices.
We interviewed Ellen, asking her the four questions we ask all of our featured teachers, so that you can get to know her and learn more about what to expect from her classes on YI.
What style, tradition, and/or lineage are you a part of (if any)?
I think for some, honing in on a specific style or lineage works well. My path has been rather diverse. I went to the Himalayan Institute [for her 500-hour certification], where I studied therapeutics, ayurveda, the subtle body, and philosophy. Later, I decided to study Iyengar yoga—and eventually Anusara—because I suffered a knee injury and wanted to focus on alignment, and both of those traditions emphasize alignment in practice. I’ve also done vinyasa and restorative trainings. I continue to be a student of all of those traditions, with yin yoga being a constant for me throughout the years. My yin teacher is Sarah Powers, and Nikki Costello is my main teacher.
What can I expect from your classes on YI?
The classes I offer on Yoga International reflect my love of study as well as my love of teaching. In particular, the yin classes are the ones where I share a relevant reading, experience, or information that may lead people to find more clarity in a posture physically or energetically or offer them deeper insights into themselves.
I focus on alignment first to give students the time to consciously settle into each pose before I delve into the theme of the class and the subtler aspects of practice by offering questions on self-reflection. In each class I teach, my goal is to share the knowledge I have gathered, offer options so that the class is enjoyable for everyone, and encourage students to continue with their practice at their own pace.
What’s on your mind these days yoga-wise?
I love the opportunity that teaching yoga offers—the ability to help others feel better, where "better" is unique to each individual student. Some people take class to become stronger and increase range of motion, while others seek out tools to help access an inner calm. I strive to help all of my students find their own version of "better.”
Additionally, my focus is on encouraging or mentoring newer teachers. I love having the opportunity to be a part of the growth and success of my peers, just as many teachers have influenced my own journey.
What I am not interested in? Conversations that create polarity and separation. As both a teacher and student within the broader yoga community, I welcome the opportunity to learn the diverse points of view of others around me. I believe that we all have something to teach one another, and I want to continue to further my own education as well as share my discoveries.
What do you like to do outside of yoga?
I’m fortunate enough to live within driving distance of New York City, where I am able to enhance my practice by taking classes or workshops with many wonderful teachers. I love the energy of the city and occasionally take a day off to enjoy walking around, browsing through shops, and eating outside.
I spend time with my family and our dog, and I enjoy travel. I’m that person with the brochure of the attractions that we “must” see while visiting a new city. I also love to read and once in a while have a Netflix binge day with my husband!
Find out more about Ellen and try one of her meditative yin classes or empowering vinyasa classes on YI!