From Gym Rat to Yoga Mat… 5 reasons why The Well-Heeled Guru practices yoga…

September has been officially declared National Yoga Month by the powers that be.  As The Well-Heeled Guru, I have decided to write some posts about my experiences as I fit a yoga practice into my busy lifestyle,  I could write a post with the usual suspects about why I practices yoga, because all those benefits of stretch, flexibility, mindfulness showed up for me too. However, my why’s + how’s are simple, honest experiences + results that continually inspires me to share my deep interest + passion in yoga. My hope is that one day everyone can witness the real + tangible benefits of adding yoga into their daily lives. This is how it was or currently is, maybe some of it will resonate, or at least provoke a little different thought or shift perspective, to enable your own yoga mat to be rolled out, from time to time…

Reasons to be mindful are free…

Reason 1: Because I have to admit, some parts of a celeb lifestyle are on my wanted list, like a-toned arms…

Madonna, Reese, Jeremy Piven, Lady Gaga + new to the list Lindsay, the aftermath of her prison stint, many celebrities continue to include yoga as top of their healthful activities, to maintain their body’s physique and provide them with lean + mean bods + guns. The weekly gossips + blogs, care of the love/hate relationship with the paparazzi, keep me up to date with their  comings + goings from class or with Public Displays of Asana, on beaches, in gardens or decks. When I initially began my journey into yoga, as a hard core gym rat, cardio sessions back to back, weights and ‘stretching’, my yoga cynicism was pretty evident, however I figured, some of the breathing + stretch elements could help my gym routine…

Seriously those biceps are to die for...

Stressed out Ari destresses...



Really who’s going to argue that Madonna’s arms are not aspirational… and a little less ego is always a bonus, if it works for her, it can certainly work for me…

Reason 2: Me time.

As a mother of 2 young children, who for their first 3 years of their little lives, practically gave up a yoga practice due to the time needed to go to class. 2.5-3hr is a luxury event, that required logistics + negotiations that is often not feasible for most young mothers. Many gyms have a childcare facilities, but not the small, independant yoga studio. The quality Me-Time in the gym v’s the studio, is reflective for me, by the results. During a gym regime, my physical activity goes on auto pilot. I used to be physically engaged in cardio, endurance + muscular strength improving activities, however I never gave my body a conscious thought of how it was operating or me. I would switch off, as the music came on, I would go through the motions of  minimal group encouragement instruction + nominal posture correction. For all that huffing + puffing, I never was satisfied with my efforts or body image. However in a yoga class, whatever level, I have access to 90 minutes of pure Me Time, where an eloquent instructor delivers insight + awareness into how my body operates, to enable the body + mind to become stronger, leaner, balanced + grounded. I may not be model thin or Madonna muscled, but yoga has the ability to make me content with what I have + what I am… go figure…

90 minutes in the gym = 90 minutes spent on the physical body, my vacant mind came along for the ride.

90 minutes in a well instructed yoga class = 90 minutes thinking about how my body + mind can be aligned for improved practice + state of being.

For me, a happy mother = a happy family, thus 90 mins of purest form of Me Time, is a sure fire way to ensure smiles at the dinner table…

Reason 3: More calories burned during cardio physical activity.

My fave gym activity was Step, as an old timer who loves to dance, Step was the closest thing to hitting the dance floor. Serious about any physical activity I undertook, I have always worn a heart rate monitor.  Yoga improved my stretch + flexion, I was able to jump higher, kick stronger and present the jazziest of Jazz hands, all the way to the ends of finger tips, as I made my way, up + down + around my Step. At first I was just on an endorphin high from bopping to old school techno house muzak, Get Ready For This The ultimate step tune. After a few high fives from the teach, I noticed that my HRM had reading of 50-75 extra calories burning. My gym cancelled Step, + therein ended my subscription. Since this was the only class I enjoyed, plus I could see the tangible benefits, that my yoga practice produced for my Step class, I am disappointed to not be able to further R&D this collaborative effort of Step & Yoga, for myself or to share with you.

If anyone wants to push the buttons for the powers that decide at Reebok or any other company that develops fitness regimes, and like me is interested in Step Revisited… Old School Step with New Age Yoga… Send them my way…

Bah Bye gym membership, Bah Bye my dear Step classes...

Reason 4: My job as Creative Director of Plank, luxury for yoga + beyond.

I have to admit that I love my job, to develop works of gripping art onto yoga mats and then to test them in a variety of yoga arenas. Not only do I get to try a variety of classes during my working day and wear test the Plank product line in some of the most challenging combat zones of yoga, like a Hot Power Flow Class, with conditions of, the heat + puddles of perspiration, for the inexperienced, pose support + alignment can be daunting. However, it is really validating for me as a product developer, to use Plank’s cool designer yoga mats within these unfavourable conditions + witness them to match up to most better grade yoga mats in the market. I personally find that once the pools of perspiration are wiped away, the grip returns, due to the art flat surfaces needed to render high quality imagery. Grooves and ripples that are often formed to provide grip for plain coloured yoga mats, but these embosses hold water + perspiration, thus once wet, a towel needs to be used.

The stresses of running my own business, is relieved as part of a day’s work involved in product + marketing + R+D + participating + practicing + sharing yoga. Stress added + Stress taken away = O. Creation begins at O… Tooo Cooool…

To see Cobra + more images from Plank's Image series, click here...

Reason 5: Mindfulness + spirituality by osmosis.

When I first started to practice yoga, mindfulness + spirituality were not part of my agenda. I’m not sure when I decided that cynical was cool, and thus I became a practicing yoga cynic . The lack of OM + spiritual frou frou’s of Bikram yoga was the ideal entry point for me. However, after 2.5 years of a regular practice I became stuck, I didn’t feel more flexibile, I wasn’t getting the yoga highs + loves everyone else was . Being ordered to pull, stretch, reach, kick myself into the same poses every time, created ironically, more resistance for me. Mixing it up with other styles of yoga was the solution, such as Baptiste Power Flow, Iyengar Yoga, Anusara, Forrest Yoga etc…  it soon became clear to me, that I was doing yoga poses without any idea of how or why poses were possible. The language used by a well educated and versed instructor to explain the workings of the human body coupled with accessing the energies + forces that surround us, such as the ground, walls, air in between limbs etc… enabled better alignment, thus deeper, freer poses…

For me, a deeper connection with Mother Earth was born, every class I was made aware that as I push a standing leg into the ground, more energy can be generated to kick, a kicking leg higher. You don’t have to be some crunchy Tree Hugger, to think, Way-To-Go Mother Earth. Stay around longer, so that my kicks + that my spirit will always be high.

Often said, where there is resistance, i.e. spirituality, that is exactly where one needs to go, Now that the door is open,  I must admit spiritual highs are kinda nice…

Here are just a few of my reasons for enjoying + wanting to share why I practice yoga, as I continue my practice, my love + perspective shifts…  Need more, check back soon…

WHG, an expert in all things, shoes + heels + fitting yoga into a busy lifestyle…


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