KIMBERLY WILSON Jan, 04, 2019
When it comes to practicing wellness, sometimes the hardest part is just getting started. But once you’ve gotten out of your head, you’ll realize that the act of self-care is also just an act of self-love, and once you’re in this space, you’ll continue to recognize it as an integral part of honoring yourself— mind, body and spirit. To get there, you just need a daily reminder to put your wellness, health and happiness first.
These Black women want to help you recognize that power in honoring yourself, and they have the credentials to back it up. After scrolling through their Instagram feeds, these wellness gurus will inspire you to live your best (healthy) life in 2019.
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If you follow Christina on Instagram, then you already know that she is constantly dropping gems to help you live your best, most healthy life. As we usher in the new year, she recently launched the #30DaysinOM challenge, which has garnered over 600 signups of women who want to usher in a new space of wellness into the new year.
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Dr. Tiffany Lester
#Doctorbae aka Dr. Tiffany Lester is the medical director of Parsley Health San Francisco and health expert at Thoughtfully Magazine and regular contributor for Mind Body Green and The Parsley Health blog. Being that we all have the ability to change our own health, she uses prevention, nutrition, and wellness to get to the bottom of disease as she is trained in internal and functional medicine.
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Devi is the perfect example of reinventing yourself to fulfill your life’s purpose. For many, a career in media and entertainment would be a dream, but for Devi, she knew there was more she could give — to herself, and to the world. On her journey of mindfulness and self-discovery, the former music director and #1 rated host for iHeartMedia’s, 93.7 The Beat discovered the power of crystals and the healing power they had once they were implemented in her daily practice. She then decided to share her practice with the world with her brand and book, Karma Bliss.
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Also known as Trap Yoga Bae, Britteny is a social entrepreneur, mother, and twerk aficionado who is taking the Bay area by storm. How? She’s created a movement that introduces newcomers to yoga by similarly transforming it into a party atmosphere. Her events draw crowds in hundreds of people, and there are no signs of her slowing down soon. If you follow her on Instagram, she might even challenge you to busset open for 30 days straight — yoga splits of course.
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An entrepreneur and philanthropist, Millana Snow is a reiki healer and co-founder of Wellness Official, an international wellness, philanthropy and networking community exclusively for women. And if you follow her on Instagram, you can see she practices what she preaches. Her passion is to connect, empower and support others to heal themselves by expanding consciousness in their everyday lives.
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Who doesn’t want their trap yoga with a side of tacos? Founder of the Houston-based event series Trap Yoga Tacos, Alicia Tillman knows how to make wellness fun for us. Her events, which reaches the masses of over 450 people, look like a vinyasa dance party. There’s no better wellness vibe, than blaring R&B in a warehouse loft, taco trucks on site, and lots and lots of profanity.
Anyone who knows me, knows I love London (especially the wellness scene) so when Byrdie’s UK Editorial Director Amy Lawrenson and I meet we totally clicked! She may be a pro in the beauty world, but she is very much a wellness girl after my own heart. She asked me to chirp in on how one can start on their own wellness journey, and Im joined by some friends from the UK who also have some great shares.
Gone are the days when it was considered the pinnacle of health to do an aerobics class, drink two litres of water and factor in your five a day. In 2018, wellness is more "new age" than ever as we seek mindfulness escapes from the buzz of modern life. However, it can be a confusing path to take. If you thought knowing the difference between yoga and Pilates was tricky, the new-age wellness set is now burning sage bundles, drinking water bottles filled with crystals and sipping on adaptogen-spiked moon milk.
But before you chuck in the towel at the first crystal-shaped hurdle and retreat back to the comforting familiarity of a simple jog around the park, it's worth knowing that you don't have to commit to everything. You won't be judged if you forgo the crystals in place of palo santo (or choose a relaxing infrared sauna over meditation). I spoke to three wellness gurus—Sasha Sabapathy, founder of Glow Bar London; Giselle La Pompe-Moore, reiki healer and founder of Project Ajna; and Millana Snow, founder of Wellness Official—to find out what their wellness journey entailed and some of the new-age tools they rely on.
Keep scrolling and we'll help you to pave your own wellness path.
Sasha Sabapathy, Glow Bar London Founder
How did you get into the more alternative side of wellness?
I'd gone through a period of working really hard and partying every night while also simultaneously doing my master's, and I just crashed. I realised I had to build myself back up from the inside out. Ashwagandha is where it all started for me. It was the first herb I started taking following a recommendation from a good friend.
After about two weeks of taking the herb each and every day, I noticed I was coping with my stress in a better way. The smaller things were no longer worrying me, the physical effects were starting to subside and my mood, on the whole, was better. When I moved back to London, I realised I wasn't alone; a bunch of my friends were dealing with stress on a daily basis. That was where the idea for Glow Bar was born.
How did you eventually find what works for you?
Finding what works for you can be so stressful, which is incredibly ironic! I think the key is finding an adaptogenic herb that supports you in an effective way, so ashwagandha if you get quite stressed (Glow Bar London's Super Sexy blend, £33, is ideal if you're fatigued).
Approaching your diet in a balanced way, though I don't subscribe to one way of eating. I believe in eating healthy and eating what you want when it counts (like Michelin-starred pasta!). Exercise because you enjoy it and it makes you feel good—not because you're obsessed with losing weight.
I also strongly believe in the power of self-care. Taking 30 minutes to one hour out of the day to look after yourself is so vital in today's chaotic world. You know what you love. Whether it's chilling in a room of scented candles, listening to relaxing music or doing a skincare ritual. Just do it, and don't feel guilty about it!
Giselle La Pompe-Moore, Reiki Healer and Founder of Project Ajna
How did you get into the more alternative side of wellness?
I'd been fascinated with books on spirituality since I was a child, but I only started to grasp the concepts during my teens when I got into the law of attraction and crystals. It wasn't something I ever felt comfortable about sharing, so I kept my interests hidden. I started meditating daily around 17, and once I saw the profound benefits it had on my mind and body, I started to gradually practice other modalities, introducing witchcraft and other rituals into my life.
This all led up to early last year when I really started to delve more into manifestation, tarot, essential oils, kundalini yoga, reiki, intention setting and working with the moon and herbs. I was struggling in my career and the direction I wanted my life to go in, and these tools allowed me to grow, reflect and give myself permission to really discover who I am.
How did you eventually find what works for you?
It can be quite the rabbit hole when you get started, and it can be quite overwhelming, but the key is to be open-minded. Don't pressure yourself into feeling like you have to "get it" just because others do. I did a lot of reading and went to classes and workshops. I tried everything—from transformational breath work to ecstatic dancing. That's the best way to find what resonates with you. It's also a great way to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people. I've made friends for life by sliding into the DMs of people who also spend their Friday evening doing full-moon rituals.
Millana Snow, Founder of Wellness Official
How did you get into the more alternative side of wellness?
My first step was to go to more events. I learned about them through the women who came to my rooftop yoga classes. There are so many amazing healers who teach at yoga studios all over the world. I've always said yoga is the gateway drug to wellness, and I find that it's a great community to dig deeper into the holistic wellness community and culture.
How did you eventually find what works for you?
I had some mishaps and very challenging experiences. I highly recommend that you do your research on practitioners and modalities if you're going to be doing deep work. Even if you have a recommendation from a friend, it's really important to ask lots of questions and to understand the ritual, session or retreat thoroughly before signing up. It's really important to be open-minded to be able to expand and learn. With that comes information and clear, open communication. Wellness Official is a very good resource for being clear on who you're working with and if they're right for you.
A Beginner's Checklist of Wellness Tools to Try
"Crystal combs have been used for centuries to stimulate blood circulation promoting new hair growth. Combing targets all of the acupoints of the head, which regulates excitement and inhibition of the cerebral cortex. They're also a beautiful object to have on your bedside table." says Sabapathy.
"Bundles of white sage can be used to clear stagnant energy in the home or from objects such as crystals or tarot decks before you use them," explains La Pompe-Moore. "It's an ancient ceremonial practice with roots in sacred Native American rituals. You allow the smoke to pass over the object or space you wish to cleanse, opening any doors, windows or closed spaces so the smoke can pass through and clear these also.
"Then it's important to set an intention as you do so, such as asking that any negative energy that doesn't serve you is cleared for the highest and greatest good. The sage is usually grown in the wild in California, so do ensure that the bundles you buy are sustainably harvested and preferably sold by businesses either owned or operated by Native Americans."
"This earthy wood from the bursera graveolens tree is native to South America, and it's often referred to as 'holy wood,'" explains La Pompe-Moore. "It's used in smudging and cleansing rituals, as the smoke is said to have healing and clearing properties. It's usually used in the same way as white sage, but some may prefer its rich, warming aroma. You light the stick and let it burn until it starts to smoke before passing through the space or object you'd like to cleanse."
"Crystals are believed to promote anything from health to success, so the idea is to keep one in a space that you interact with such as your water bottle so that you can benefit from its good vibes," says Sabapathy. "Rose quartz promotes self-love, whilst amethyst is both healing and stress relieving."
"While these plant extracts have myriad therapeutic benefits, they also have spiritual properties that acknowledge their ancient roots," says La Pompe-More. "It's a great idea to start a collection of essential oils and noting their benefits, so you can grab frankincense when you need an aid for meditation or cinnamon to attract money. Be sure to go for pure oils of the highest quality, which haven't been diluted to utilise all of their magic."
All three wellness experts are fans of adaptogen powders:
"Our Inner Beauty section of Glow Bar London's shop focuses on the healing power of adaptogenic herbs and superfood extracts that can lead to a high vibe result of increased mood, glowing skin and a zen state of being," says Sabapathy. "We sell a range of elixir blends to help cope with the three major areas of life most affected by stress: happiness, skin and sex."
"Listen to your mind and body to be guided to what adaptogen you need at any given time," says La Pompe-Moore. "You might use a different blend from day to day depending on how you're feeling. Reach for ashwagandha if you're feeling anxious or to help with mood swings, and maca for an energy boost and vitality. For ease look, for a blend of different plants, mushrooms and herbs designed for a specific purpose so it's easier to choose and you'll know the ingredients will work together. You just mix them up to have as a smoothie or as a hot drink," she says.
Snow loves to use He Shou Wu for its intuition-enhancing qualities, but she warns that not all adaptogens are meant to be taken daily over long periods of time: "Do your research on this before use," she notes.
In October 2018, I joined Wanderlust Festival for Wellspring, their first wellness conference in Palm Springs. It was an amazing line up of world renounced teachers, healers and speakers. I was so honored to be in such great company! What’s more, I had the huge honor to lead an hour long group breath work energy healing session to nearly 200 ppl.
I love leading group healing, its always so powerful to do energy work and was totally blown away by how this room really took to the experience. Within 10 minutes the room was bursting with energy, many people began to cry, sing and release emotions with their experience of depth of being so present in their bodies and consciousness. To follow up on this experience, I sat down with Wanderlust to talk about my take on energy healing.
I sat down with BlogHer.com in preparation for my keynote at BlogHer Health LA.
meet millana snow
#BlogHer Health speaker, Millana Snow, talks us through her tried and true wellness practices, the health trends she predicts for 2019 and the wellness fads we should leave behind.
As we all know, the holidays can be a prime time to neglect the health and wellness practices that we set at the beginning of the year, but just because holiday parties and stressful shopping can come in the way, it is still important to try to continue your personal rituals and health-focused practices year-round. We chatted with #BlogHer Health 2019 speaker Millana Snow to see how she, as a reiki healer, meditation teacher and model, maintains her health during the busy months.
BH: Your interest in wellness began at a very young age and your journey to where you are today has been very unique. Can you tell us about it?
MS: I have always been a seeker and a very spiritually curious person. When I was in elementary school, I would read my tarot cards and try to hypnotize my friends, and I meditated. In middle school, I studied Hinduism, Wicca and reincarnation by reading dozens of books on my own volition - I even became a born-again Christian after that. After many years of self studying, I realized that what I was seeking was inside of me; the deeper spiritual connection of all these paths were accessible through my own inner practice. Today as a healer, I have merged many religions, healing modalities and traditions as I continue to learn and seek.
BH: You must be so busy between handling your work as a reiki healer, meditation teacher, model and now founder of your own business Wellness Official. How do you still find time to incorporate self-care into your life and what are your daily rituals?
MS: I don’t make it an option; self care and daily spiritual practices is my life. I have practiced this way of life for years to get to this point and intend to deepen and expand my daily practice of self care and spiritual connection. For me, prayer, meditation, and mindful practice can come in many forms. Sometimes I must be more diligent about where I need more support, but everyday I meditate and everyday I pray and observe with gratitude. Some days I could use more of all of the above, and this is why I call it a practice. Right now, I’m doing a 40-day, 7-minute Kundalini practice called Har Meditation for Prosperity which I do with my online group at Patreon.com/MillanaSnow and through our private Facebook group. But I also mix in green juices, good restful sleep as a priority, transparent and loving relationships, walks with my dog, baths and lots of prayer. These things can take just a few minutes and I make them a priority because my work is more inspired and powerful when I do.
BH: The holidays can be very stressful between travel, events, hosting and more. What are your 3 tips for maintaining wellness practices and mindfulness during the chaotic holiday months?
MS: First, take herbal remedies to keep colds away, I really like anything from Wish Garden or Doterra.
Second, bring snacks and non-perishable foods with you so you can eat the food that’s best for you wherever you go. Third, go to a yoga class or practitioner session when you’re in the thick of things, especially when traveling. You will be able to find practitioners and places on WellnessOfficial.co next year, but in the meantime, send me a direct message and I can help with great people and places all over the world!
BH: What is the biggest wellness trend you predict we’ll be seeing in 2019?
MS: I think we will see a lot more about the effects of Blue Light and phone screen time — information and studies that I think will lead to more products. I also think herbal tonics and medicine will become more mainstream (maybe even in CVS and Target!?). One of my faves that I have seen more lately is Elderberry, which I think will become more popular.
BH: What wellness trend should we leave behind in 2018?
MS: I think things will slow down with imported adaptogens. While I think they can be very supportive for our overall health, I think things will start to shift to more locally-sourced food and plants as healing medicine. I also feel that adaptogens should be taken under the advisement of a holistic health professional and I believe this will become a more common practice in 2019.
Millana will be bringing her wellness talents to #BlogHer Health this January to lead a mindful moment on Friday 1/25. Don’t miss out on your chance to see her take the stage next month and set up your new year for health and success.
Meditating with Deepak Chopra at The Refinery Hotel. (Photo: Cody James Photography)
On a Thursday evening in January, a long line of young professionals snaked through the lobby of the trendy Refinery Hotel towards the elevator that led to the Rooftop, where chic New Yorkers generally gather to sip cocktails beneath the shadow of the Empire State Building.
On this night, however, as they spilled out onto the roof, people found mats on the floor, kicked off boots and stilettos, and set about figuring out how to arrange their leather leggings and designer skinny jeans into approximations of lotus position.
The event was a guided meditation with famed author and spiritual guru Deepak Chopra, hosted by Wellthily, and the swanky locale and crowd filling the packed room was one manifestation of meditation’s expanding place in popular culture, especially in urban centers like New York City and Los Angeles.
“Younger people are doing it, professionals are doing it, people on Wall Street are doing it, doctors are doing it,” said Chopra, in an interview after the event. “It’s almost mainstream now.”
Like yoga’s similar transformation from “weird hippie habit” to standard American past time through the ’90s and early aughts, meditation is becoming a trendy—and in many cases, normal—practice among 20- and 30-somethings.
Serene founder Millana Snow tries to meditate for 20 minutes a day. (Photo: Sumner Dilworth)
The new meditators
“When I first started Serene a few years ago, nobody was interested in meditation. I would say ‘Let’s do a cool event!’ and nobody thought it was cool,” says Millana Snow, 27, a Project Runway-winning model who founded wellness-minded young women’s membership clubSerene Social, with groups in New York City, Los Angeles, and London. “Now, we do meditation with Donna D’Cruz, who’s an amazing mediation guru, at Soho House. We have it once a month, and it’s almost always full.”
Like the crowd at the Refinery event, many of the women in the classes are young professionals, who Snow says are mostly “entrepreneurs or in the entertainment industry.” And similar communities exist around pop-up meditation groups like The Path, which recently hosted a Fashion Week event for industry insiders at Caravan Stylist Studio and was described as a networking fest by the New York Times, and Center of the Cyclone, which hosts classes in art galleries and at the Botanical Gardens. In LA, there’s the new studio Unplug, which is often referred to as the “SoulCycle of meditation.”
In all of these places, and at home, young meditators are finding a new kind of clarity amid their 20-something worlds filled with long hours and long nights. “I really try to get it in at least once a day for about 20 minutes,” Snow says of her own practice. “I’ve become just more clear. My brain is a lot more open to bigger ideas…my body is more relaxed.”
A meditation event at The Bowery Hotel in December 2014, hosted by The Path, in partnership with music and event production company Babel. (Photo: Facebook/The Path)
Why stillness is in
So how did meditation go from being a fringe idea to a mainstream activity? “Fitness is a hot topic, but there’s also a general lean toward more holistic health. It’s not just your mind and your body, but also your spirit and integrating and balancing those things,” Snow observes. “I think meditation is the next layer of that.”
Experts agree. Modern spiritual teacher Gabrielle Bernstein now weaves meditation into almost all of her teachings, and renowned yoga teacher and author David Romanelli (AKA “Yeah Dave”) recently shifted his focus to teaching meditation, via an app and a new book, Happy is the New Healthy. Both are making the practice accessible to modern young people in new, exciting ways.
Of course, meditation has a celebrity stamp of approval, too. Wellness influencers like SoulCycle’s Stacey Griffith and chef-personality Candice Kumai were at the Refinery event. Arianna Huffington and Kobe Bryant discussed their “practices” in Sunday Styles, and stars from Katy Perry to Demi Moore are vocal about how they get their om on.
Chopra also cites the growing body of research on meditation’s incredible impact—from studies on how it affects the brain to how it may change gene expression—as a reason for the growing interest. In the end, though, he says its popularity is probably more born out of a real, of-the-moment need.
“We’re living in a very distracted society. There’s so much multitasking,” he says. “People are recognizing that meditation, and other things like yoga and breathing awareness and mindfulness…they help you tackle stress, but they also improve the quality of your life.” In short, he says, “Society needs it more than ever.” —Lisa Elaine Held
As shared in my first article on MindBodyGreen.com
Back in 2010, I experienced what became the most spiritual and fun experience of my life thus far, which culminated in my winning Project Runway Season 8. It’s hard for many people to believe, but I knew I would end up winning before I even auditioned.
Picture this: I’m standing in the middle of a busy downtown street, fresh off a two-week post graduation vacay in Houston full of drinking, eating and celebrating, and now I’m back in NYC when I get the call from my agent. “Millana, I just got a request for you to go to the last day of castings for Project Runway up at Parsons. Go now. You have 30 minutes before they close. Run, don’t walk. And bring heels!”
For any young model working in television, this is certainly a call you hope to get; however, I was in a bit of shock because in my mind, I wasn’t prepared for this sort of big audition! All I could think about was the fact that I had a big pimple on my forehead, no heels, and was surely a few pounds heavier than my comp card said due to the past two weeks of revelry.
All of a sudden I heard a very still and sure voice from within say, “You are going to winProject Runway.” Immediately, in the most natural way, I laughed out loud and said, “God, can’t I go to the casting first?” Quickly after, I was on my way to Parsons, getting there just in time.
The next day, to my surprise, I got a call from my agent saying I’d booked the show, and I was now in the running with 16 other models for a chance to win $25,000 and a spread in Marie Claire. It was at that moment I decided to believe that the message I received the day before was in fact true, and I would become the model winner.
Now, four years later, I’m grateful to share the extremely PRACTICAL tools that helped me align with my belief and manifest my dream. Now I know anyone can do this at any time, with any dream!
1. Focus on your vision and have unwavering faith in the final outcome.
I knew it was also important to simultaneously enjoy the opportunity to have what would become one of the most spiritual and rewarding experiences of my life. I chose to believe — rather, know — the end result. And I threw my whole self into that choice.
2. Keep yourself in the vibration of winning.
During the hectic shooting schedule, I often found myself in close quarters with 16 other models in small rooms for up to eight hours. Since this was how we spent most of our time, I knew I had to find unique ways to keep my focus and energy high. When you’re cramped up in the office for hours on end with less than happy people, that’s when keeping your energy high is most important!
In order to do this, I imposed a tight regimen and routine on myself. Regardless of the filming schedule, I would wake up early to make sure I had enough time to set my energy. I also worked out daily, and while on set I only listened to positive and inspiring music, ate light, healthy and energizing foods, drank loads of water and limited liquor. When I walked into work and throughout the whole day, my vibration was set and flying high.
3. Tune into and protect your energy.
I knew that keeping my energy high was key, so to maintain it, I had to be conscious of how I was feeling and what I was allowing into my field.
One night, right after filming a cliffhanger episode, my designer was on the chopping block to be eliminated. I had the whole night to wait to see how things would pan out. When I got home, I had a bad run-in with my roommate and quickly realized that my energy had sunk down to the lowest levels. I felt horrible, in a place of doubt, and scared about the next day of filming.
Tight with tension and in tears, I knew I had to shake it all off and feel good again. With determination, I did the one thing that always makes me feel good: I started dancing. Yes, I literally danced off my body pains and fears. I then ran to my notebook and wrote affirmations as I spoke them out loud, “I am the winner of Project Runway!” “I believe!” “I am!” I must have written on 50 pages before I finally got to a place where I felt good again. Exhausted, I realized I had brought myself back into alignment and was now even more adamant to keep myself there.
The next day, a surprise model and designer switch had been proposed. I was separated from my designer, who was then eliminated. Then, just like that, designers were randomly picked from a bag for a chance to choose the model that they wanted. After about six pairings, there was one designer left to choose between myself and another model. The last designer chose me.
4. Make visualization your thing.
I’m a very visual person and learned the power of visualizing from books like The Secret. I even had a vision board that I would look at from time to time. Nevertheless, when a castmate told me about the Vision Board app by Happy Tapper, I finally had a way to access and add to a vision board all day everyday. I looked at images that included beautiful models on the runway, stacks of cash, and phrases that said, “I am the winner of Project Runway.” After months of looking at this app a few times a day, I saw almost every single piece of my vision board become my reality.
Even today, from my work to my boyfriend and traveling for business, I still see glimpses of my vision board. Trust me, they work!
5. Don’t engage in negative self-talk or gossip.
I learned that it’s always great to make friends, but it’s totally fine to go it alone. With so much competition and in tight spaces, I made sure to keep conversations short and only for the purpose of sharing positive energy. If the exchange went anywhere else, I would politely change the subject or end it all together.
That meant no talk like: “Don’t you think her dress is ugly? She’s definitely getting eliminated,” or “Do you think I did good today? I think I did a horrible job.” Sound somewhat familiar?
Maybe you’ve heard, “Wow what a bad presentation John made this morning.” Perhaps you asked your girlfriends what they think about your new boyfriend? I know it can feel like this kind of small talk helps you relate with what people are going through, but from personal experience and many spiritual teachers’ advice, don’t go there, because you will get more of whatever you give your attention.
6. Know that what you want in life is already done.
Science is starting to confirm what religions and spiritual teachers have taught for centuries — Everything is happening now and it’s all happening and is all already done. In my spare time, I wrote lists of and notes to myself of how I would spend my cash prize, as if I had already had the money in my account. I would pretend (quietly to myself) that I could go shopping, by walking into stores and “buying” things in my mind. I was constantly confirming and acting as if it were done. Not only did it strengthen my faith and energy, it was also fun and became a great use of my time.
Whether you tell your friends in Paris that you’re coming to see them before you have the money set aside, or are planning on how you will spend and save when your company gets that big investment, acting as if it has occurred is crucial to building up your confidence in the final outcome.
7. Let synchronicity be your guide.
Synchronicity was one of the most powerful tools that I discovered while filming Project Runway. “Coincidences” almost always have a meaning, message or correlation to a question, need, desire or hope that you send out to God and the Universe.
Be aware of the beautiful interweaving of connections, people, ideas and signs, and they will show themselves and guide you. While on the show, and still to this day, I constantly experience it. I’m sure you’ve felt this as well; the more you raise your vibration and tune into this magic, the more magical assistance will come to help achieve your dreams!
8. Practice constant gratitude.
When shooting PR, I had no idea that gratitude also had its own inherent power! At the time, as a young model and recent college grad in NYC, I was just so thankful that I was given the opportunity. Every moment was full of joy, not just to fulfill my own personal and career goals, but to get to know God, the Universe and my highest self better. Looking back, I can see now that it was the feeling of love, humility and gratitude that truly lit my path to winning.
Here’s the last point that I want to hit home: While I was thankful for the journey, I was thankful for winning before I won. What are you working on, praying for, or trying to manifest that gratitude can take to the next level? I am a big believer in the power of gratitude, and have found this is the thread that brings our vision together. Authentic gratitude is the ultimate sign of faith, and all you need is a little faith to make your dreams come true.
After a roller coaster of a ride, I won Project Runway, and it was one of the best days of my life because I was a co-creator in living out a dream. Perhaps having enough courage to believe, and using the tools within us to align with them, bridges our dreams and reality.
From manifesting more modeling jobs, my company and conscious women’s communitySERENE Social, to getting into alignment for my loving relationship, I’ve used these tools time and time again without fail! Don’t be scared to mix it up, and more than anything, don’t be afraid to believe in your big dreams again — you have the tools; use them and believe! It’s that simple.
Originally posted on MindBodyGreen.com.
40 Days + 40 Nights: The Story of the Journey
By SERENE • November 21, 2014 •
Ahh, epiphanies. Where would any of us be without life’s perfect little aha moments? Earlier today over tea at a cafe on the Lower East Side, surrounded by women who were all so perfectly SERENE, we were chatting about how blessed and “on track” we both felt, but how we feel something is missing, something isn’t quite right. We have both been feeling a lot of road blocks lately, and we know this means something is off. Being from the Abraham Hicks “be in alignment and it will all align” school of thought, we know that feeling good, living exactly how our heart feels and living with complete passion, power and purpose should be relatively easy. It is a natural life force and power that we all have from birth.
So we went straight to the source: within. With the back-story being another story, we realized the problem is that we are both not applying enough of what we know to be true and good for us into our own lives on a daily basis. We know all the things to do to feel good, we know how to attract more of the lives we want, but we are simply not doing it. We realized many of the things we preach we are not practicing for ourselves. Here we are as self proclaimed wellness and spiritual warriors and founders of a community based around wellness, but we have to admit we are not exactly walking the walk every day.
When we are in the flow, we know magic happens. So the question is how can we keep our vibrations up so we can be in our best form, living life to the highest degree of fulfillment?
1. Identify the Blockages: We instinctively knew what has been missing: the self work, the self love and the self care. We dismantled how we felt about issues that anchor us in all the wrong ways.
2. Check In and Love Ourselves: We often treat ourselves poorly, sacrificing our bodies, minds and spirits for the guilt we feel that we should be doing more for our goals, not really listening to how we feel inside and trusting the timing. We accepted that we weren’t working on ourselves or listening to ourselves as much as we should be.
3. Commit, Excel: In that moment, we decided that we wanted things to change. Not just in an outward, material and tangible way, we needed to change the way we feel on a daily basis! We called out the things we know make us feel in alignment (see below), and vowed to do them as part of daily rituals. Practices of self-love and self care, things we know have moved mountains in our lives for us before. Things that keep us balanced in this beautiful cycle of giving and receiving, and things that keep us clear enough to be concise conduits of the greater goodness that flows through our work. We made the decision that we would consciously do these things every day and every night until the end of the year.
In divine synchronicity, we turned to the calender to see just how many days that would be, and lo and behold, starting tonight- on the eve of the new moon, our challenge would be a total of 40 days and 40 nights! 40 – such magic! Buddha spent 40 days meditating under the tree, Moses 40 days and 40 nights in the desert and Jesus fasted 40 days and nights before he was crucified… In numerology, it is a representation of readiness to build a higher consciousness. Looks like there is certainly something very mystical about this time that we have found ourselves committed to. We are ready!!
To keep ourselves accountable, we will be keeping a diary on here, as we work to implement the tools that we know will elevate our lives to new levels every day. Over the course of our 40 day and 40 night inner spiritual journey focused solely on feeling good, confident, alive and in alignment, we will write share tools and experiences. We’ll see what comes about emotionally, spiritually and materially, not just to encourage and inspire but to hold ourselves to our own wish to reach higher vibrations and aligned living.
The 40/40 cleanse is meant to unclog anything that resides inside that does not serve our best purpose, simply by doing the things that we know make us feel better. What greater way than to finish off the year a more powerful, authentic version of our selves! Makes soaring to new heights in the new year a breeze!
If you feel inspired to join us, comment below, tweet us, share on our Facebook page, or email us if you’d like to share it in a post. Whatever forum you choose, the most important thing is that you declare it and commit to it, and then just ride this wave with us! We would love to hear from you and help support you along the way, and would be happy to pair you with a buddy from the community to empower with.
Anything Can Happen
“The Law of Attraction states: What you focus on you will get.” -David Schirmer in The Secret
There are a few things that we KNOW work for us, to uplift our vibration and our thoughts towards what we want and what is aligned with our highest self, God and the Universe. These include:
Prayer: Pray without ceasing (or at least as often as possible)
Walk: Move, explore, let things come to you.
Nature: The mother of our being <3
Gratitude: The daily practice is back on!
Giving Ourselves Permission: Simply allowing is such a powerful act.
Yoga/Exercise: Every damn day!
Visualize: As much as possible…set reminders if necessary.
Eat as clean and pure as possible: No meat (even fish), alcohol or coffee
Dance: Everywhere, all the time.
Self Care: Indulgent baths, hair/skin/beauty care, sleep, Reiki, self-massage
Inspired Action, Only: Move when you feel moved
Practice Positive Self Talk
Write: Anything our heart desires – journal entries, blog posts, songs, poems, stories, stream of consciousness morning pages
Water, water, water: flush your system, keep things flowing
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!
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!
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.
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. 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!
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.
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-
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.
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!
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!
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:
I am so thankful for my dog Aria, because she adds so much fun and love to my life.
I am thankful for my teacher Dr. Clara because she changes my life every time I come to her for a session.
I am thankful for my computer because it makes everything available to me, I remember when I didnt have it for a few weeks and how hard it was to get things done.
Yep, I really do feel better.
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!
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-
My friend August McLaughlin's Girl Boner radio was kind enough to have me on her hugely popular show while I was in LA a few weeks ago. Listen in on the podcast to find out why and how gratitude is sexy!!
Nature has always been my refuge! Growing up in Colorado for most of my childhood, nature became the place where I felt most safe, free, connected and at home. Even when I went to college in East Texas for a bit, the tall pine forests were my favorite escape! Now that I am a NY'er, nature is probably the one thing that I miss most in life. Funny enough, it has pushed me to seek a more natural and holistic health and body regime! Although I have promised myself to make it a priority to get into nature often, its also a priority to make my home and body a place that is connected to mother earth as well! As I transition into a more natural lifestyle I will be exploring this concept more, but for now, I would love to share some of the products that I LOVE that also show LOVE to MOTHER EARTH! That means NO ANIMAL TESTING, NO PARABENS, NO NASTY CHEMICALS and companies that give back and return the love to the people and the planet!!
My pick this week:
This is the ultimate body oil! I feel so sexy yet at ease whenever I put this on! This a beautiful oil that is perfect for massages as well as well as daily use after the shower! Pangea has two body oils and in my opinion is oil is the best on the market!
I love Pangea Organics sooooo much that my company SERENE Social is now selling it! I love the fact that everything is natural (mostly organic) and all around good to humans, animals and mother earth! But what's even better, is the fact that it everything smells AMMMMAZING and does wonders for you hair, skin and nails! To start this list off I chose a few of my fave Pangea Products that I personally use and love! Click the photo and you can buy it from the SERENE Pangea store on the spot!
When was the last time you just said f@ck it and just went for something without knowing how it would work out?! We all have a story of when we just blindly jumped into the abyss of the unknown hoping that all would be what we hoped. I have a few of those instances but the one that stands out most is when I moved to NYC! Long story short, when I moved to NY, I was a teenager and I had no family in NY let alone the East Coast. I knew only a handful of people who I had met just a few times while visiting a few months before. I had saved money but had no job and no place to stay. Little do even my closest friends know that upon my arrival, I went to Harlem for the first time ever and stayed in a hostel for the first few nights while I coordinated my stay with a girl that I met at a casting! There is even more color to that story that I hope to share some day. But what is important, is that almost 7 years later I am still in NY and loving it!! I see that although most people back then said it was the craziest thing I could have done... now everyone will agree it was the best thing I ever did!
Leap, and the net will appear.-John Burroughs
I JUMPED and the net appeared. After many years of many amazing ups and some painful downs, I can still say that I believe that the net that catches you after a big jump is the most rewarding kind! What is your heart telling you is for you? Where do you want to live? What passion do you want to pursue? You don't need to know how, what or who. You just have to take the leap... not the little dip your toe in the pool, but a leap into full immersion. Often the answers and solutions only come when you take the leap. You have to be in it to win. You cannot experience the magic of the world if you don't depend on it to show itself to you. TAKE THE LEAP.
I had my #GetTHANKFUL group share their stories of taking the leap and everyone had a powerful testimony that inspired and uplifted the group. Wont you share one of your stories with us in the comments below?