You probably know Hilaria Baldwin as the wife of actor Alec Baldwin and the yogi who finds a way to do yoga anywhere, anytime (seriously, just look at her Instagram feed). And, actually, that's how she intros herself in her new book, The Living Clearly Method. You might be thinking, "whatever, another celeb memoir." But that's not the case with this gem; as a mother of three, an incredibly successful yoga teacher, and studio owner of Yoga Vida in Manhattan, this woman really knows what she's talking about when it comes to balancing your life like tree pose.
If her post-pregnancy body pics aren't enough to convince you she knows how to take care of her body, her really real body-positive posts will at least convince you to trust her as a genuine human being. (Plus, if she can get Alec Baldwin to try barre, she deserves some serious kudos.) In her book, Baldwin explores the five principles she believes are key to a fit body, healthy mind, and joyful life, including yoga flows that will help you tune into each. They'll help you see yoga as a way to center your life rather than just a series of movements over a Lululemon mat.
If you ever need a quick way to feel more centered, try one of the poses below.
1. Perspective: High Airplane Lunge
When it comes to perspective in yoga it's not about where you're looking outward, but where you're looking inward.
"Perspective is thinking: 'I feel terrible and it feels like it's the end of the world,'" says Baldwin. "And then you realize it will pass. You're going to look back and think: 'that wasn't that big of a deal.'"
How does this translate to your flow? Just think about how it feels to hold this high lunge for several breaths. Your right quad is about to burn, burn, burn. Cue: end of the world thoughts. Finally, you'll get to release, and stretch that front leg into the top of a moving high lunge (see number four) and all is good in the world. But imagine holding that position—it's going to hurt eventually too. "It makes you realize that everything is temporary," says Baldwin.
Try It: Inhale, and step one foot back into a high lunge. Straighten spine and soften shoulders. Exhale, tip torso forward at a 45-degree angle and reach arms straight backward with palms facing down with a strong, straight back leg. Hold for five rounds of breath, then move into high lunge for some relieve.
2. Breathing: Cat-Cow
Stop for a sec and think about how you're breathing right now—you probably aren't. "We hold our breaths all the time because we never breathe fully," says Baldwin. Using your breath correctly can be a game-changer for your yoga practice; "Using a really steady, even breath to transition between the two of them in cat-cow really fills up the entire posture with the breath," says Baldwin. "It's not just an inhale. Stop. Exhale. Stop. It's inhale, hold, exhale, hold." Just a heads up: using your breath properly might even make you dizzy at first, because your body isn't used to that much oxygen, says Baldwin. (And this fire belly breathing technique will blast your body with even more oxygen.)
Try It: Transition onto all fours and move into cat cow. Spread the fingers wide and shift weight from side to side. Inhale, arch the back and look up into cow pose. Exhale, press into hands and knees and draw your navel toward your back, round your spine, and look down into cat pose. Inhale arch, exhale round.
3. Grounding: Relevé
"I'll say to my students, 'come up onto your tippy toes' and 90 percent of the class is teetering or almost falling over," says Baldwin. But don't worry she's not about to shame you for doing the same—she'll give you a ground trick to master the relevé and remember your roots no matter what pose (or situation).
"I remember when I was a dancer, my coach said 'you have to go down in order to go up'... If I ask you to come to your tippy toes, you're going to think "up!" But if you want to balance that, you have to learn to press into the floor," says Baldwin. "I like the relevé exercise because you're actually pushing down so hard that you actually come up into a balanced pose, and because you're grounding down, you stay solid."
Try It: Bring hands to prayer position in front of heart, and shift body weight forward, coming onto the balls of the feet, pressing so firmly that the heels start to peel off the floor. Inhale to raise the heels up higher, and exhale to lower.
4. Balance: Moving High Lunge
When it comes to balancing in yoga, it's all about your center and how your body balances over and in-between your center. Going up and down that center line (like in this moving high lunge) is perfect for learning where your body is in space, says Baldwin.
"Half of what's balancing you is behind you," she says. "I love this as a metaphor for real life; the balance of your work life, your life love, your children, different activities in your life. Not all of it is going to be visible at the same time."
Try It: Start in a low lunge. Inhale to high lunge and straighten the front knee. Exhale and bend back to a 90-degree angle. Inhale to straighten, exhale to bend. (Or really challenge your balance by blindfolding yourself. Really.)
5. Letting Go: Savasana
"Letting go is quite special because it's surprisingly difficult," says Hilaria. "Savasana is actually one of the poses that people fidget in the most because they don't know what to do when they're not moving anymore."
Here's what you should do: scan your body and seeing where it's still holding on to something. Hone in on it, and focus on letting it go. "For every breath you're there on the floor, the points of your body touching the floor should increase and deepen," she says.
Try it: Lie face-up on a mat, releasing everything to the floor. Stay here as long as desired, focusing on letting go with both your body and mind.