SERENE Diaries: I'm now a Disciple of IntenSati!

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About a year and a half ago, Suparna Bhasin made a great connection, encouraging our collaboration with Patricia Moreno, the founder of IntenSati, which combines empowering affirmations with interval training, martial arts, dance and yoga. There was something so attractive and mystical about her, a woman so visibly strong and poised, but also incredibly warm, centered and wise; I always had it in my mind that I wanted to work with her.

Finally, one day in the shower (the BEST place for ideas!), while musing about the perfect lineup of guest teachers for #GetTHANKFUL, I realized that Patricia was the perfect person to teach  affirmations! I had serendipitously come across her teachings again, highlighted in an essay for NYU research on the subject. Shortly after, I was able to connect with Patricia, and she was kind enough to guest teach the first #GetTHANKFUL class, and whoa did she blow us away with her wisdom! My top three takeaways include:

  • Affirmations should be short, powerful, positive and present.
  • Say them many times a day, and use physical movements while looking in the mirror to really solidify them!
  • Emotions cause motion.

After class, I wanted to become an IntenSati disciple myself! Recently, on a Friday afternoon, I participated in a class at Equinox in SoHo and saw what all the raving was about. The class was full of ladies who were clearly familiar with Sati Life, and I immediately noticed that everyone was open and friendly. Patricia began by having us sit in a meditative state and allow her voice to wash over us. Automatically I felt like I was in an alternate state, yet completely tuned into her words and the energy of the room. Then came the workout of the year! Wow, I had no idea how out of shape I was!

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 The theme of the class was change — accepting what we cannot change and having the courage to change the things we can (don’t we all need this?!). I realized that change is a daily commitment, repeating the affirmation, "One day at a time, the choice is mine," while doing jumping jacks to the beat of the music playing over the speakers. After over an hour of running in place, boxing, dancing, aerobics and tons of encouraging high fives, I was pooped! Yet at the same time, I felt so alive and clear. Days later, the repetition of  affirmations in sync with the movements are still fresh in my mind! I knew without a doubt that not only did I need more workouts like that for my body, but I also needed more affirmations like that for my soul!

 I’m excited that we will be announcing more collaborations  with the amazing Patricia and IntenSati soon! In the meantime, please take a class with her at Equinox, her own weekly Saturday class, or her amazing masterclass. I HIGHLY recommend it and know you will LOVE IntenSati!



At 5'10 and 124lbs This Was Me in 2009

I came across this photo last week and was shocked! Truth be told, its very possible I had been Photoshopped to look this skinny. I had no memory of looking like what this picture depicts, so I immediately sent it to my close friends who were shocked as well, but reminded me that yes, they remember me being that skinny!

Let me first say, I am not marginalizing anyone who is skinny like I was. But I want to make it clear that this was not my natural size. I forced my body to the brink to be this skinny. In 2009,  a few months before this photo was taken I had broken up with a guy who I thought was the love of my life. He was a model who I dated for a few months, one day he told me I needed to loose weight to get my modeling career going. Seeing all the success he had and feeling the pressure from images of his successful model ex-girlfriend I was determined to loose weight fast. When we stopped dating, I was even more determined and started working out intensely, only sustaining myself on an apple, almonds, coffee and one small meal a day. Needless to say, I rapidly lost weight and got myself to loose over 20 pounds in a month and a half, my lowest weight was 124lbs, at 5'10 I was significantly underweight. I have always had very strong discipline when I wanted something badly enough, so at the time it was a rush for me to achieve and it was something I prided myself on, because I thought- "finally, my modeling career can take off!" But to be honest, it wasn't about feeling good or even looking good for that matter. It was about fitting in and being accepted. Something that sadly enough even with the exception of winning season 8 of Project Runway, not much else really happened for me in the fashion industry.

I went to the doctor after I took this photo.

I went to the doctor after I took this photo.

The day this photo was taken, I went to the doctor to get help with my breathing problems, but his only concern was how "emaciated" I was. He measured my body fat, it was below 6% and with a grave look on his face said "If you don't go home and eat something to fatten you up, you will die". I recognized that was a pretty extreme statement for a doctor to make to his patient, however, I was unsure if he was being dramatic or trying to drive home a point that my pursuit for staying skinny was all too costly. Either way, I knew in that moment it didn't matter if gaining some weight meant that my modeling opportunities would go out the window, because it only mattered that I was healthy.

Let me be clear, I knew I was skinny, but at the time that was all I focused on.

Let me be clear, I knew I was skinny, but at the time that was all I focused on. I was not taking drugs, smoking cigs or throwing up my food after eating. I saw myself in the mirror and was well aware that I had practically no body fat, but I was satisfied with that because I wanted my modeling career to take off and I believed that being super thin was the only way to get there. What I didn't realize, was that I was putting my body in danger. Not all models have to go to this extreme to be as thin as you see me here. Some real women and girls really are that way naturally. My body, however was not built that way, for me it was unnatural and harmful to my health.

When my good friend Darrel Alejandro Holnes saw this picture he prompted me to write a post on body image. At first I thought it would be more like a big reveal on my former self, that my friends may have forgotten. But then I realized it was instead just the beginning or rather a continuation of a bigger conversation. I want people to see that there are many sides and sizes of modeling and that I am not apart of the fashion world just because I am a model. The fashion world of this generation doesn't want women with curves like generations before so that segment of the population (which includes myself) has been kept out of the fashion world for the most part. It also so happens that even I, who knows both sides of the industry, got sucked into thinking to be accepted, I had to be extremely skinny. Perhaps my reasons were different then some girls who live in smaller cities and towns around the world. But it's true, the images that we see of most women in fashion tell us- if you want to be in this world you have to be stick thin, have straight hair and thin features. With this being the prevailing message in much of what we see in top magazines, no wonder we are all striving for this if we are not. We want to be accepted, seen as beautiful and successful. But after really analyzing this I realized, that that standard isn't one I want to go by. Rather, I want to follow a standard that asks me to be healthy, happy, authentic and rooted in my purpose. Never did those things come up when I was flipping through model portfolios and magazines.

I say all this to say, I have been there. I went to the extreme to TRY to be what I thought would make me feel accomplished and accepted by who I thought were the deciders of such things. But when I finally saw that I wasn't really living at all and was shortening my life at that, is when I knew that I had to change my life for good. After that doctor's appointment that day, I started to change my life and gained my weight back slowly. Ironically enough, about a year later I was casted on Project Runway and although I kept a strict regime, I found myself in a world where healthy and fit was beautiful -I mean look at Heidi Klum, she is one healthy, fit and curvy model.

I hope this honest reflection will inspire more girls and women to see that things aren't always what they seem and that all we should be striving for is to be healthy, happy, purposeful people who love and accept themselves by their own standards not by the standards of the media or society. I would love to hear your thoughts on this and for you to share your experiences. Please feel free to drop my an email or leave a comment below!

 

SERENE Diaries: Aqua Studio… A Spin Class UNDERWATER!!

This past Sunday morning I set out to take my first aqua cycling class at Aqua Studio in TriBeCa, which is the "First and Only Cycling Studio offering classes in a pool" in NYC and in the states. The owner of Aqua is Esther Gauthier, a member of SERENE who has been coming to rooftop yoga at The James every Thursday and has had me absolutely intrigued with the idea of taking a spin class under water. So with great excitement and a little nervousness I met with Esther and her friend Jane for a class!

Upon entry, I was already impressed with the studio. The space is a large, lofty, beautiful and clean space that was full of light and friendly smiling staff. I was even more impressed when I walked down the stairs and looked over into the pool area! Everything was dimly lit and beautifully designed with a very minimalist, yet cozy feel. The pool area really had me in awe as I had never even thought there was such a thing! Ester told me that aqua cycling was all the rage in Europe, and I could already see why.

I love swimming and water, but I was a little nervous that the water would be too cold or overwhelming. It was quite the opposite, luke warm, crystal clear and only 4 feet high! Once getting set up on my bike by the lovely instructor Krystal Kay, I was on the bike getting my feel, I already knew that I was going to get a totally different work out because you cant really feel your muscles working as you pedal... a misconception, I was sure I would feel hours later.

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Class began with a warm up as expected and after about 20 minuets transitioned into a great arm work out with hand paddles which was at first harder than it looked when we got into "position 4", which is essentially behind the bike floating with your legs wrapped around the bike while your hands keep you afloat. It was around this time our instructor had us slow down and enter into a moving meditation. With the lights low and a beautiful song playing in the background I started to focus on my core body and inward into my mind. Here I realized that although there were great physical benefits, there was also a great benefit for my mind and spirit. I was getting all these great ideas and positive thoughts, I could have sworn that I was even floating higher as I did! If you are anything like me you get ideas in the shower ALL THE TIME! I had a feeling that, taking an early class at Aqua would promote more of these high vibrational thoughts... or from a scientific point of view high Dopamine thoughts.

After the about ten minuets in position 4 we moved back up onto our bikes for the hardest part of class and rode it out for another 15 minuets. Then to close the class we all took a few minuets to stretch and then slowly made our exit for the next class. Stepping back up and out of the pool definitely felt like I had just landed back on earth from outer space. I have to say, this was by far the most unique workout that I had in some time. I look forward to going to more classes and hope to announce a unique SERENE experience at Aqua soon!!

Want to take a class at Aqua? Go sign up for a fun class with Sweaty Betty next week! I hope to be there in the evening and would love to meet you all!

Until next time-

Millana


The SERENE Diaries are all about the SERENE Lifestyle, a beautiful mindful life centered around holistic wellness, adventure, an uplifting community and expansion of the mind, body and spirit. Follow the SERENE team as we delve into the SERENE Lifestyle.

Natural Beauty Pick of the Week

I have been in love with all Evan Healy products since the moment my acupuncturist Sandra told me about them becuase they are soooo simple, effective and organic! Which is pretty amazing since there are just TWO ingredients: Green Clay (montmorillonite) that has been sun-dried, purified and ground to a very fine, velvety powder and pure Matcha green tea (Camellia sinensis)

I have to mention that this mask really does work like a charm... and will be super tight on your face for oil and gunk, which is especially good natural remedy in the summer!




11 Ways to Feel Good... or at least Better Right Now

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If you are anything like me, sometimes out of no where you realize you feel down/out of control/pissed and don’t know why or even how to feel better for that matter. If things aren't going well, you may know exactly what is upsetting you, but feel that you have no way of feeling better in the midst of it. One of my favorite teachers Abraham-Hicks says, "Get into the vortex, and then..." The way to the answer or the solution for that matter is feel better first; then the answers, solutions, resources and help will come. When feeling down, achy, mad or even depressed, your thoughts, actions and vibration are never going to bring you what you want. So, it’s important that you do some work to feel better before ANYTHING else. It really is about raising your vibration so that you can start to move yourself in the direction of what you want. So whether you are feeling good, or just plain want to feel better- here are some of my favorite remedies that I know will do just the trick for you!

1. Dance. Yes. Stop right where you are. And just start dancing. Even if you don’t feel like it, just dance for the entirety of a whole song anyways. Even if it feels "fake". Just move your body to a beat and pretend that you actually want to. It helps to play some great music to get you really into it, but honestly you can dance to your own beat too. I am really into "You and Me" by Disclousure right now... play it and break out your best, or worst, dance moves... right now!

2. Say "thank you" a bunch of times. Words have power. “Thank you”, “I am grateful for”, “I appreciate”, are some of the most powerful. But when you repeat these words even to yourself, focusing on what/who you are grateful for, energy builds and the things you want start to show themselves in the most beautiful and fun ways!

3. Go out of your way to be radically kind to the next stranger you interact with. This ALWAYS does the trick. When you go out of your way to go above and beyond for a complete stranger, you will not only feel incredibly bold, strong, and proud, but you are also sure to get some serious appreciative love shot right back at you!

Trust me, a big smile will take you places!<<<Click here to see

Trust me, a big smile will take you places!<<<Click here to see

4. Smile. And hold it there! Keep a smile on your face for at least 17 seconds. This is the amount of time that Abraham-Hicks says it takes to start manifesting. Manifesting usually comes in the form of higher thoughts and feelings. Just 17 seconds of holding a smile can really move you in that direction whether you feel it or not!

5. Get out of your head and do something creative with your hands. There are a million things that we all like to do and be creative with but in case you can’t think of anything try: making sock puppets, DYI dip-dye, bake a yummy cake or paint something beautiful or realllly "ugly" for that matter.

6. Fake it till you become it... and take a power pose! I'll let the amazing Amy Cuddy explain:

7. Write a gratitude list of 10 things you are grateful for and why. Whether it’s on your phone, a napkin or a notebook, as soon as you can, start your list of ten things you are grateful for and why. Go somewhere you can have some privacy so that you can do the list, 1-10, with no interruptions. Remember, the key here is to build energy. That comes from a consistent focus of your attention to that which you want and appreciate. Since I’m sure you are wondering if there is any right way to do this, and I myself could afford to focus on what I am grateful for, I’m going to give you a real time gratitude list:

  1. I am grateful for my boyfriend and how good he is to me. He is the best surprise I’ve had in a long time, and I’m amazed that I could attract so much love into my life so quickly and easily.
  2. I am grateful for my sister Jill because she motivates me to be better and do better.
  3. I am grateful for the warm weather because there is so much ease and joy in the possibilities that warm weather brings!
  4. I am grateful for my healthy immune system, because it does such a great job balancing and healing my body. I can feel it working now, and I’m so grateful that it has always been one of the most consistent things in my life.
  5. I am grateful for my Macbook Pro, because I remember how big of a deal it was for me to be able to buy my own laptop. I recall saving for it for months! Today it’s the only computer I use, and it has always has been so dependable.
  6. I am grateful for my savings because it feels soooo good to be able to save and still spend money with ease.
  7. I am grateful for the two trees outside of the window right now. It is so calming and grounding to see a healthy and radiant green tree growing from a small plot cut from concrete in the middle of the city.
  8. I am grateful to be a New Yorker. I say it with pride that I will have my 7 year anniversary next month because I know what it took to be able to say that. And I am fully aware that many, many people have come and gone (do you mean that they leave when the city pushes back on them? If so, try something like, “...many, many people have crumbled...” when the city makes you see who you really are and what you are made of.
  9. I am so grateful for music, and all the access I have to listen to such a wide variety of good, soothing, and life-giving music. I appreciate that it is there with just the push of a button because it makes me feel soooo good.
  10. I am grateful for SERENE Social, because it is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. To be able to help support, unite, and uplift woman around the world is one of the greatest charges and honors that I could ever be blessed with.

Yep, I really do feel better.

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8. Call someone you care deeply for and tell them how much you love and appreciate them. Yes, you could call them and tell them why things aren’t working, but why not call them and focus how much you love and appreciate them. This won’t just make you feel better instantly, but it will make their day better and bring you both closer.

9. Eat something that you really love and REALLLLLLLY indulge in it! Sometimes when we feel like crap all we want to eat is crap...ironic huh? It’s true that it would be better if you pushed yourself to reach for something healthy that you enjoy, but if you can’t help it, then at least take the time to sit down and enjoy EVERY last bite like it was the first time you have eaten in days! This won’t just stimulate your senses; it will also energize your physical body and vibration, bringing some higher thoughts and a softer disposition.

10. Look in the mirror and tell yourself everything will be ok. Really have a talk with yourself. No matter what... this too shall pass. Sometimes you just gotta have a conversation with yourself so that you don’t forget it. Scientists and spiritual leaders alike say that we believe our inner dialogue more than anyone else. So if you aren't feeling so great, go have a talk with yourself!

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11. Start laughing! That's right, just bust out in a roaring laughter! Again, sometimes when we feel down we "dont feel like it" but the truth is we all know that laughter is a sign of joy and happiness... so fake it till you make it/become it!

You can try just one of these and I can pretty much promise that if you commit your focus and attention to it for even five minutes, you will feel better. Keep it up even longer than five minutes, or add some other tricks to the mix, and you can be sure that not only will you feel better and have some good ideas pop up, but all sorts of lovely synchronicities will follow as well. Before you know it, you will ask yourself why you were mad/sad/hurt/bored/stressed in the first place!

If your not up to try this for yourself then do me a favor and try one of my tips as an experiment for me and then be sure to let me know how it worked with a comment below!

I'm so glad you will feel better now.

Lots of Love-

Millana