Having taken a step back from a successful acting career to explore the world of yoga and meditation, Maude Hirst is keen to share the benefits of slowing down…
Maude Hirst is probably having what film critics would call a ‘moment’. Except, that ‘moment’ is progressing into the world of yoga as a successful instructor and businesswoman. After her time as Helga on the popular TV show Vikings, Maude felt that she needed to find her identity outside of acting. Since then, she’s not only launched an online yoga and meditation platform called Energy Rise, but she’s partnered with popular virtual wellness app and spiritual jewellery brand, Silatha. Here, she talks to us about her journey with yoga, how she thinks mediation has changed her approach to acting, and why she’s trying to get her busy family to give breathwork a go.
Acting and starring in Vikings was such a rollercoaster of being busy and juggling different commitments. After it finished, I had to stop to think about how I was feeling. It was only when I went on my first yoga retreat and I’d gone through a horrible break-up, that I started asking ‘what feels good?’ and, ‘what makes me happy in life?’. I’ve always been physically active and danced, but yoga just became something that made me feel amazing.
Quite organically, I explored mediation during my yoga sessions and now teach movement meditation, which is something that I’ve put together myself. After I came back from the yoga retreat, I quickly realised that there was something about the practice that was drawing me in – more so than the movement. It makes me feel in control of my emotions and my stress levels. I can wake up in the morning with a thousand different things to do for the business and my teaching, but if I sit for 30 minutes just breathing, at the end of that half an hour I’m in a completely different state. I know what to prioritise and I feel calm. Everything feels doable from that place onward.
I was never unsatisfied with acting, but it definitely shone a light on where I needed to define myself. I’ve started auditioning for roles again, and I’m now approaching characters with a new mindset because I spent a couple of years focusing on reconnecting with myself, and discovering the things that make me feel good. Now that I know that an acting role isn’t going to define me as a person, it makes everything feel a lot different.
Taking the time out of your day to connect back to your breath is underrated. If we get out of our heads and reattach ourselves to how we’re actually feeling and stop suppressing our emotions, which is another thing that I think we get caught up in, we soon stop worrying about how we feel and what’s happening inside of us. My aim in all of my classes is to reconnect people back to themselves, so there’s always an undertone of that in what I teach.
I’m trying to get the rest of my family into yoga and meditation, but it’s a slow process! I was raised by my mum, and my brother and sister are both very academic; one’s a journalist and the other works at a university. My sister says the stress levels in her job are so crazy that she can definitely see the benefits of introducing breathwork and meditation, and they’ve all seen how much yoga and meditation have changed me!
For 2020, I want to expand my business to reach a bigger crowd so more people can experience mindfulness in all its forms. In fact, I’m hoping that I’ll be able to set some time aside to write a book about mindfulness. I also want to grow my business so that Energy Rise becomes more of a collective, and I can offer it to people in the UK and hopefully, fingers-crossed, beyond!
Maude is working with mediation app and jewellery brand, Silatha. In dedication to Maude’s February birthstone, Amethyst, Silatha has created a collection around the gemstone. The app is also now hosting two meditations by Maude. Find out more at silatha.com
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