Cliche Magazine June/July 2018 - Page 28

OPEN MIND Photo credits: InnerDimensionMedia. L auren Eckstrom is the Executive Director of Inner Dimension Media and has studied with some of the world’s most prominent yoga and meditation teachers. She co-authored Holistic Yoga Flow: The Path of Practice and was the associate producer of the award-winning DVD series The Ultimate Yogi. Her Holistic Yoga Flow classes combine creative sequencing with a focus on safe, sound alignment and are enhanced with meditation, pranayama, and yoga philosophy. Lauren leads workshops, retreats, and teacher training with her husband Travis Elliot in the Los Angeles area and internationally. She has been featured by international yoga brands such as Lululemon, Alo Yoga, and Manduka. BY ZAYNA PALMER Cliche: What inspired you to start yoga? Lauren Eckstrom: I attended UCLA and as a freshman, I began suffering from intense anxiety attacks. The attacks appeared sporadically and left me feeling crippled. My mother and I decided to approach the situation with alternative medicine before turning to a western doctor. I undertook a three-pronged approach and began attending yoga classes at a local donation-based studio, Santa Monica Power Yoga, acupuncture, and a return to meditation. This holistic approach halted my anxiety, empowered me, provided me with a connection to my body for the first time in 28 my life, and gifted me with a community. How has yoga changed your life physically and mentally? Yoga, in the forms of physical practice, seated meditation, and the philosophy of a daily living practice off the mat found in the Yoga Sutras (specifically the Yamas and Niyamas), altered the entire course of my life. When I began practicing, I was completely disconnected from my body. Over time, I developed strength, poise, grace, flexibility, and balance. These physical attributes eventually infiltrated my mental state. I still experience my own struggles both on and off my mat, but yoga granted me the capacity to navigate life with a roadmap for healthier, more equanimous living. What advice can you give those starting out practicing yoga? Be kind and patient with yourself! Yoga is not an easy practice. Building the strength, familiarity, and discipline to undertake a yoga practice takes time. Be compassionate with yourself. Start with the basics. Don’t be afraid to be a beginner. Start with a beginner’s class or program. There are a vast array of teachers, styles, and approaches, and it can take time to find your appreciation for the practice. Remain hopeful, curious, and optimistic! What do you believe is the true meaning behind yoga and meditation? The traditional goal of yoga, according to the Yoga Sutras, is “samadhi,” also known as “nirvana.” My interpretation of this is liberation or freedom. The true meaning of our practice is to help us experience freedom from our suffering in this lifetime. As we practice, we learn to witness our mind, which constantly creates stories, flits into the past, attempts to predict the future, and otherwise takes us away from the present moment. Yoga and meditation help us become increasingly present. As we unite within ourselves, we intuitively extend that connection beyond our limited selves and into the world. What do you believe are the rules to start a healthy lifestyle? Health is a broad term. Each person creates their own definition. Each of us can take a look at our lives and see where we feel controlled by something that is improperly sucking our attention and energy, and make a conscious change based on that. Health begins with a choice to make a change because you care about the quality of your life and your ability to be present for your immediate community. Start small and grow from there. When we set goals that are too outrageous, we set ourselves up for fW&RगN( 2'FBF&R7&FBF氦&r'WB&VvvF7FW2FBrRF'VB6fFV6R