A Weekend of Waves, Warmth, and Warriors

So, the past few weeks have been pretty tough. Bitter without the sweet. Long, cold frozen, windy, sniffly, snowy, slippery, and overall, pretty darn miz. Mother Nature just won’t budge. Don’t get me wrong, I really do love the Hamptons year round, but it’s about that time when I can totally understand how others migrate south for some sun, warmth, and beauty. Luckily, I totally got my fix of all of the above this weekend, right in our own backyard thanks to lululemon athletica East Hampton, three of the best lululemon ambassador yogis on Long Island, and Gurney’s Montauk.

IMG_0274The drive out to Montauk (sans traffic!) was decompressing in itself, but knowing that a weekend of yoga bliss lay ahead was even better. As we unrolled our mats in the Great Room, with the sun shining through the windows and waves crashing down at the beach, I quickly began to defrost and fill with warmth and gratitude.

The first of three classes on Saturday morning was taught by Lana Russo, lululemon ambassador at the Manhasset store. The class was pretty much exactly what I personally seek when signing up for a yoga class: a combination of feel-good stretching, challenging poses to push outside of the comfort zone, and a relaxing meditation. Lana does it all with a seamless flow, a warm heart, and some non-traditional yoga music. We’re talking a yoga-remix of Katy Perry’s “Roar” and such – what’s more fun than that?! Lana makes yoga more accessible to all levels as she breaks down advanced poses into manageable steps. Here’s Lana below, being the yogi rockstar that she is:

FullSizeRender(16)The second class, rounding out Saturday morning’s practice, was taught by Evelyn O’Doherty, local yoga teacher, SUP racer/instructor, lululemon EH ambassador, and friendly face we all know and love (if you don’t know Evelyn, you should.) It’s impossible not to get stronger during Evelyn’s class; her light-hearted style benefits all walks of life and all types of athletes. She has this amazing ability to make anyone smile, even when instructing challenging poses, burning abdominal exercises, and “hanging out” in plank. Evelyn’s smile always reminds us, that no matter what, it’s all going to be A ok. Here’s Evelyn practicing a playful, yet perfect, inversion:

FullSizeRender(17)After two and a half hours of Vinyasa Flow, Saturday afternoon was free for our choosing. I followed the crowd to the Seawater Spa and fell even deeper into ‘vacation mode as I sat by the Seawater Pool in my bikini, robe, and flip-flops. While it took some imagination, Montauk in February quickly became my own personal island retreat. I soaked up the goodness and sailed away into Shavasana…for the third time that day.

Saturday evening wrapped up with a Yin Yoga class taught by Angela Williams-Jones, owner of Flower Power Yoga and lululemon Ambassador at the Walt Whitman store. Lucky for me, Angela’s mat was next to mine during the morning classes, so I knew that whatever came next, there would be laughter and love. Yin is a restorative practice full of therapeutic poses to cleanse, balance, and regulate the body. Poses are held for at least a few minutes to increase circulation, enhance immunity, improve flexibility, maintain focus, and deconstruct emotion. Typically, Vinyasa produces discomfort the longer we’re in the pose; however, I found that Yin was just the opposite. At first, the poses were awkward and uncomfortable, but the longer we settled in, the better it got, especially knowing we were cleansing all of our major organs and systems of the body. Although I was exhausted, mentally and physically, after Saturday’s three classes, I couldn’t wait to get back to the mat the next day for more adventure with these amazing people.

Sunday morning’s class confirmed that Angela is so not your typical yoga teacher and this class was definitely not your typical yoga class. The Yoga Fusion Flow class took us through a series of songs, poses, emotions, stages, transitions, and experiences, some recognizably familiar and others new and different. That’s life, right? Just when we think we’ve mastered it, just when we become accustomed to the journey, just when we’ve settled in or fallen head over heels, we’re reminded that life is an ever-changing journey. Good or bad, things shift, we react, we sway, we readjust, shake it off, and keep going, hopefully with a big smile, a full heart, and possibly our yoga mat. Click here to see a quick clip of Angela’s heart-warming class!

580301_485743748146028_1073937593_nThis weekend was just that for me – a reminder that life is ever-changing, growing, supporting, experiencing, and full of love and opportunity. Not only did Gurney’s provide a rejuvenating escape, but I found that my personal yoga practice grew more in these two days than ever before. Stepping outside of my comfort zone on the mat came easily thanks to the three amazing ambassador yogis supporting us, teaching us, and making it all fun and playful. Thanks to lululemon athletica East Hampton, yogis Evelyn, Lana, and Angela, and Gurney’s Montauk for providing exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed it. Namaste!

picstitch(26)One Healthy Breakdown: When I drove into Montauk on Saturday, it was winter. When I left on Sunday, spring was in the air. Now that’s magic.

Winter 2015 Retreats Near & Far

It’s about that time we start to feel that winter itch, right? Some sunshine is looking pretty darn good right now! As does wellness, self-care, and trying new things! If you’re craving the sand, sun, surf, and all of that good stuff, here are a few retreats you should definitely know about!

soulsurfWomen’s Soul Surfing Retreat: Join Evelyn O’Doherty and Alyson Follenius, two fabulous Hamptons locals, on their second annual Women’s Soul Surfing Retreat in Rincon, Puerto Rico February 4th-9th, 2015. Kick off the New Year catching waves and bonding over new possibilities! Retreat includes daily surf lessons, yoga, meditation, healthy breakfasts and lunches, wellness coaching, and lots of fun. Space is limited. For more information, click here or contact surfvixens@gmail.com.

Yoga, Surf, and SUP Retreat: Relocate with KamaDeva Yoga’s Jessica Bellofatto and Paddle Diva’s Gina Bradley January 22nd-26th, 2015. Experience daily yoga on the deck, SUP lessons and tours, running, surf lessons, horseback riding, snorkeling, waterfall tours, and healthy eats. For more information, click here.

MP900227552Annual Tulum Yoga Retreat: Twice-daily yoga with Jessica Bellofatto along with lots of exploration, water, sunshine, and self-care. Restore on the shore from February 1st-7th, 2015. For more information, click here.

Half-way to Summer Shape Up: Hosted by Core Fusion co-founder Elisabeth Halfpapp, attendees can enjoy a variety of exhale’s signature classes, healthy meals, a juicing workshop, and more at Gurney’s Inn in Montauk, February 6th-8th. Enjoy ocean-view accommodations, breakfast and dinner daily, all exhale classes, exhale nightly turndown item, exhale Gift Bag, activities, and access to the resort’s famed Seawater Spa. Click here for more info.

Yoga For Bad People Brazil Retreats: Two weeks in Brazil in March, 2015 can make it the best time of the year. Enjoy morning meditation, two yoga classes daily, surfing, hiking, horseback riding, hang-gliding, cycling, partying, and so much more. For more information, click here.

collageWellness Staycation: If you’re not able to jet-set away this January, just buy a Hamptons Wellness Week wristband and soak up the wellness right at home ALL month long! This is the best way to try new things, get out in the community, commit to a habit of self-care, and indulge in some serious deals! Hamptons Wellness Week allows YOU to experience an array of health and wellness experiences (fitness class, spa treatments, nutrition programs, salon styling, personal training, restaurant specials, and SO much more) for the affordable price of just $45 for the entire month of January! See participating businesses and offers here and take advantage of it ALL with your wristband!

One Healthy Breakdown: wherever and however you decide, give yourself a break this winter!

As Local as Local Gets

photo 1Another great (and delicious) community event under my belt thanks to Slow Food East End. I’ve come to the conclusion that summer actually may not be the busy season around here. No, I don’t mean crowded, I mean productive, educational, and valuable. Summer has wrapped up and we’re getting back into our routines. For Hamptons locals, the ‘off-season’ caters to so many opportunities to get more involved in the community, meet new people, take on new goals, help a cause, or educate yourself and others. Personally, I’m making it a goal to take advantage of these possibilities. One of the ways I’m doing so is to educate myself and become more involved in local causes related to health and wellness. That started with a potluck dinner at the Shelter Island Historical Society with Slow Food East End.

Slow Food is a National nonprofit board with the mission of promoting “clean, fair food for all.” Slow Food’s East End chapter works to educate, advocate, and promote access to clean, fair, food for all. In few words, this means healthy, local, and accessible food. I am definitely behind this movement for food that is both good quality and affordable. While we’ve made a lot of progress already, we have a LONG way to go. Unfortunately, the best quality, non-GMO food is also expensive. While it’s an investment in health, let’s be honest, it’s expensive. In order for more people to eat healthier, it’s got to be more affordable and accessible. Slow Food, in addition to lots of other organizations nationwide, fight to recognize the discrepancy between health and accessibility. (As an MSW, I could talk for hours about this topic! But, lucky for you, I won’t!)

It is something I’m passionate about, though. Especially within this amazing community. It’s a good mission and I like it. My point, however, is actually much more broad than this one organization. The point is to get out there and get involved. Get local. Explore the real goings on in your community, wherever your passion or mission may lie. This is really what One Healthy Hamptons stands for; activating, both individually and together, a healthier, happier lifestyle.

Health and wellness are applicable on so many levels, not just in your kitchen. There’s a whole world out there, right in this community. Think outside of just your own body, your mind, and your family’s quality of life. Wellness extends throughout neighborhoods, communities, and cities. Take a step in the right direction, explore this world. Figure out what makes your community unique. That’s as local as local gets. Get involved, read, learn, teach, grow, cook, share. Get involved, however you can, however you want. And enjoy it.

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One Healthy Breakdown: What will you do to expand your local world of wellness?