A Yoga Guru Spills About Maintaining Work-Life Balance

ElenaPhoto: Courtesy of Eyla.
In the age of constant communication, 24/7 jobs, and mandatory multitasking, finding a moment for reflection is almost impossible — almost. Courtney Somer made mental wellness her mission, creating Eyla, an online resource packed with inspiration and real-life tools to maintain your personal peace. We'll be sharing some of this goodness every week on R29 Guest Stars, so whether you're looking to get spiritual, clear your mind, or just read some motivating interviews, Eyla is here to help you shine brighter.
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We chatted with the beautiful Elena Brower — founder of VIRAYOGA, co-author of Art of Attention, coach with the Handel Group, and devoted Mama. The yoga legend — with more than 16 years experience of teaching everywhere from MOMA to Burning Man — shares her healthy habits and how she balances it all.
What practices or habits do you incorporate into your daily routine to promote health and well-being?
"Every morning when I wake up, I snuggle with my boyfriend Bentley for a few minutes before getting out of bed, then I go snuggle with my son if he’s with us that day. Then I love to stretch a bit, five to 10 minutes feels amazing. I do some Yin yoga and sit for a few minutes just listening — which is my meditation.
I make breakfast which is full-fat yogurt with chia and flax and berries or two eggs with some sliced avocado and a piece of chicken apple sausage. My acupuncturist has me off wheat entirely and I feel SO much better, and eating way more protein. A green juice midmorning keeps that energy going.
I take Jonah to school (most days) and then get to work. When I sit down to my computer, I design my day, via email, to the people closest to me. Through my work as a coach with Handel Group, I write my day by 10 a.m., designing tasks accomplished, the 'spirit' of the day, and any magical events or understandings that came, all in the past tense. This creates a trajectory wherein everything I’ve designed is already happening.
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4 times a week I teach class at my studio, VIRAYOGA, in NYC’s Soho. I’m so inspired by the community there — the teachers are some of the finest in the world and we have such a blast practicing in that gorgeous, loft space. We have begun to invite more visiting teachers to come and share with us, and this summer we get to have Peter Sterios, Jane Fryer, Sierra Bender. This fall I begin my first proper teacher training and it’s an exciting time there. Some days I’ll do some work with Jonah’s classroom, he’s in first grade so I go teach them meditation or yoga, or read a book to them, or just go help his teacher with work choice time.
These days I’m doing a lot of work with the Pangea Movement. Pangea Organics is one of the world’s foremost organic skin and body care lines, free of surfactants, toxins, and preservatives. They’ve transitioned to become a social selling company, and I’m overseeing a large team of beauty ecologists who are working to get Pangea into as many millions of homes as possible, to clean up our water supply and our bodies. So, I’m building my team and sharing the information about Pangea as much as I can.
If I pick Jonah up, we have playdates or park time. If it’s just us, I’m only allowed to use my phone for immediate plans; we have a deal that if I pick up my phone I have to pay $1. It works. We stay connected when we are together and I’m proud of that. Then we cook dinner. I’ve begun creating space to cook at least two to three nights a week. While it puts me behind in my correspondence, it’s worth it. I had fallen into a habit of doing the bare minimum, heating chicken nuggets (!), and it wasn’t working for any of us. So, I have a general idea for a menu each week and make healing food, including lean protein and veggies, and it feels so much better. And, some nights we head to Candle Cafe or Blue Hill (Jonah’s favorite meals out in NYC). After he’s asleep, I get back to work or make time to chill and practice with Bentley. At the end of the day, I revisit the day design and write how it actually went, and it’s always better than expected. Before bed, my boyfriend and I sit for 10-20 minutes together for meditation."
What would you recommend as the most important habit for people to incorporate into their daily routine?
"One of my favorite habits that I’m cultivating is asking my family what I can do better. I don’t ask daily, but at least weekly and sometimes several times a week, to stay connected and in conversation about what can be improved to make everyone more comfortable, which makes me so happy. That, and sitting daily — morning and night, and letting the wisdom of the silence take over for a few minutes."
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This post was authored by Courtney Somer.
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