Yoga instructor Hilaria Baldwin knows a thing or two about being busy (she’s a businesswoman and a mother of three little ones!) and still managing to find your zen and take care of your body. Baldwin’s path to yoga and inner peace didn’t always come easily, however. She candidly discusses her struggle with disordered eating in her book The Living Clearly Method: Five Principles for a Fit Body, Healthy Mind, & Joyful Life in an effort to help others dealing with similar issues find a way out. Her book is definitely a special read for anyone interested in yoga, but for now, here are Baldwin’s tips for loving yourself, putting your mind and body in touch with one another, and finding zen from the inside-out—even when your schedule is crammed.
Baldwin told Guest of a Guest that it’s important to connect with your body when working on resolving an emotional trouble and that, in fact, the spirit and body are inextricably linked, so you must consider the body’s role in the issue that’s plaguing you: “I knew the key was that this was lost in the body, it was muscle memory to live that way,” she explains, referring the to eating disorder she developed as a professional dancer. “Muscle memory isn’t just learning dance moves, it’s also how we eat, sleep. Everything is muscular because we are in our bodies. Through my yoga, I found that identifying with the mind what’s going on, then connecting to the body is important.”
Doing so can be easier said than done, however—even in the world of yoga. “This is what bothered me when I started doing yoga, people just said, ‘Clear your mind, be present, go to your happy place.’ But there wasn’t a lot of teaching how to do that, even though that all sounds really good. But how can I make that process happen?”
Fortunately, over time, Baldwin figured out a way to be more present, which she shares in her book. One of her key principles is realizing that the mind and body speak different languages, and it’s our job to help them communicate in harmony. “My theory is that to be totally present, the mind and the body have to talk to one another, but they speak two different languages. The mind is chatty, but it’s always scattered and thinking about the past or the future instead of being fully present. The body has a physical reaction to every single thing the mind is thinking. The point of being present, and having the mind and the body come together, is that the mind has to start focusing on what the body is doing. That is the breathing, grounding, balancing, and letting go.”
We can start the process of being present wherever we are (we don’t have to be in a meditation studio!): “The things you can do to bring the mind in connection with the body is to focus on focus on where your body is at right now: focus on where your legs are touching the seat if you’re sitting, or how your feet feel on the ground if you’re standing. That’s grounding–it’s surface touching surface, and it’s going to immediately bring you into being present. If you feel your breath coming in and out, that’s going to sync up the mind and the body.” When this connection happens, Baldwin explains, we’re much more equipped to live joyfully and from a place of kindness and authenticity.
Of course, the journey to self-love and inner peace doesn’t stop with mindfulness. Baldwin told Yoga Journal how the right yoga poses can engage your entire body, giving you a feel-good workout even when you’re pressed for time:
When you don’t have a lot of time, make sure you target your core. “If people don’t have the time and are looking to do something, then focus on ab work,” she explains. “If you’re going to focus on one part of your body, focus on your stomach, then everything extends from there. Your arms and your legs follow your abs.”
Start with planks and a few classic poses to engage your core while incorporating your entire body: “Definitely Plank Pose, Dolphin Plank, Side Plank… I’m a big fan of Downward Dog and Chaturanga—when you do up-dog you stretch and work your core at the same time. Hero pose is a great one for stretching the quads, or forward bend with your hands behind your back.”
If you’re desk-bound, also focus on opening your hips. “People sit at desks all day so their hip flexors tend to be tight,” she says. “Put one knee behind you on the floor like you’re proposing, and push your hips forward. Place your hands on your front knee if you can. Hold for five long breaths, switch sides and do the same.”
As in all things yoga, opening your hips doesn’t just release physical tension alone. Giving attention to tight hips can also help us become in touch with buried emotions and may even help us better love ourselves, illustrating that body work like yoga really can heal us on multiple levels.
Have you tried any of Hilaria Baldwin’s tips for becoming present and staying zen?
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Photo: Hilaria Baldwin via Instagram