Extraordinary People

Never discredit your gut instincts: How one woman found her true path

Elizabeth Oakley rejected a life in fashion for a journey to wellness

Red carpets, mingling with celebs, guzzling free booze… sounds a like a dream.

Though what happens when something inside is saying you’re not on the right path?!

For one former fashionista, she listened to that inner voice and revolutionised her life by saying adios to designer clothes and aloha to wellness.

On the surface, it looked like Elizabeth Oakley had it all, securing an internship alongside idol Vivienne Westwood following a fashion degree at Westminster University.

[Credit: Elizabeth Oakley]

Yet after several months dressing up in vintage frocks and on the ‘frow’ of catwalk shows, which later led to a role at Net-A-Porter on their buying team, Elizabeth lost a close friend.

It was during this immense grief that Elizabeth began questioning what was important to her, and what happened next completely changed her life.

Elizabeth explained: “I’d been practicing yoga in London with a teacher from India and she’d opened me up to a whole new world of yoga philosophy and its origins.

“She’d always encouraged me to go there if I ever got the chance and this felt like that opportunity, so I quit my job the next day and booked a plane ticket!

“I spent three magical months there and while in Rishikesh, joined the last week of a yoga teacher training and was unwittingly immersed in a zealous yogic community. I fell in love.”

[Credit: Elizabeth Oakley]

While travelling, Elizabeth and her friend then visited Nepal to volunteer at a charity where they sadly learned first-hand about the horrors of child trafficking.

Describing this moment as “being led towards the meaning I’d been searching for”, Elizabeth returned the following year to Bali where she worked to combat child trafficking and simultaneously delved into a new realm of yoga, wellbeing, and spirituality.

After this second trip, Elizabeth begrudgingly returned to London and the fast-paced world of fashion before coming home from a third vacation finally led to a 180° lifestyle shift.

Elizabeth said: “One month into working at a small fashion label I was signed off with malignant hypertension and generalised anxiety disorder: a lesson to always trust your intuition.  

“What followed was a dark period in which I realised just how important mental wellbeing is and the shame and stigma that surrounds it.

“I hit rock bottom, but it turned out that helping others was the road to my own recovery and teaching yoga was the only place I truly felt present and at peace.”

[Credit: Elizabeth Oakley]

Elizabeth then began teaching classes everywhere she could, waking up at 4am and getting home after dark, essentially working her old fashion schedule but in the yoga world.

She said: “I became closely involved in MoreYoga as their ‘Head of Vibes’ – a title I will treasure forever! It felt like I was in the right place, with the right people, doing the right things.

“As synchronicities unfolded around me, I attracted others who shared my vision of destigmatising mental health.”

Fast-forward to today and Elizabeth has completed training as a wellbeing coach and now helps others transform their relationship with the mental, physical and spiritual self.

She offers one-to-one sessions and group classes in the workplace for employees to catch a break from the daily grind and re-centre.

By using a variety of yoga styles, alongside elements of mindfulness, positive psychology and talking therapy, Elizabeth feels her holistic approach can guide clients to find their joy.

Meanwhile, the wellbeing guru says her primary advice to those searching for answers is to follow your heart and trust your intuition.

Elizabeth concluded: “If you tune into your own personal magic, who knows what adventures life might take you on.”

For more info, click here: Elizabeth Joy Wellbeing.

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