Eric Levin decided it was time to take a day of indulgence to a whole new level. styleboston visits Hidden Pond in Kennebunkport, Maine. Featuring a “farm-to-fork” dining room named Earth, massage sessions in a tree house, and an afternoon of yoga and cavorting on the beach.
I am a certified type A personality – high energy, constantly moving – a multi-tasker, who despite the occasional setback, is very optimistic about life in general. I am also a runner, or was, until last February when I found something that surpassed even that endorphin high we runners crave so much. The epiphany? Bikram Yoga, a seemingly unlikely replacement for the cardio workout I had incorporated into my daily life for the past 20 years. Yoga? Come on, that’s for granola eating, Birkenstock wearing vegans, who wouldn’t know an endorphin high if it hit them on the head. How wrong I was.
Introduced to the United States in the early 1970’s, the yoga practice was suggested to me through a good friend, who is also a runner and had been preaching the benefits of Bikram for some months before I actually set foot in the door. The fundamentals of Bikram are the same 26 postures in the same sequence every class; breathing and heat – a Bikram studio is hot…very hot. The temperature hovers around 105 degrees, with 40 percent humidity and is an essential element for this type of yoga. Breathing in and out through your nose takes some getting use to, but it is an effective way to control your discomfort with the heat and regulate your heart rate. I have come to love the heat, it is absolutely necessary to achieving the length in limbs needed to do the postures, but when I first walked into the class I turned to Lucas, the instructor, and said ‘There is no way I am staying in this heat for 90 minutes…no sir.’ Not only did I finish the class, but when I staggered out the door I felt so cleansed afterwards I couldn’t wait to go again. That was a year ago.
There are a handful of locations in the Boston area, including Back Bay and Harvard Square, but the classes I attend are held in a little gem of a studio on Hancock Street in Quincy, where I have come to understand and embrace all its benefits. Bikram is not just a workout, although the physical demand is great. It is about connecting your mind and body for 90 minutes, a time that includes meditation, focus, hard work and a respite from the bombardment of information that has become an integral part of our daily lives.
You sweat – a lot – and the detoxification is addictive. Bikram benefits range from the obvious-improvement in flexibility, balance and an increase in strength and muscle control, to the not so obvious – it has been proven to help with depression, and many practitioners believe it wards off arthritis and controls stress levels. My experience has seen improvement in focus, flexibility, significantly lessened joint pain, and emotion regulation. (My two kids will attest to that.) Hydration and nutrient replacement are key to practicing this kind of yoga, as your body sweats out not only water but potassium, sodium and other electrolytes.
I have pretty much given up running and try to take classes at least four times a week. When I travel, I google the area to find the Bikram studios nearby as I have become reliant on how good these classes makes me feel. I am still that certified type A, but with a stronger, focused, and more balanced perspective on how I run around like a maniac.
(Photography and video by Shannon Hawkins)
I’ve never been a blogger; never thought I would, but here goes nothing. I’ve been doing some things in my life lately that I’ve never tried before. New things, things that I never knew I wanted to do. One of them is meditating. It’s actually really, really, really difficult. I find that when I close my eyes and try to focus on clearing my mind, it’s possibly the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I don’t think I have one breath rotation before I have to start over again.
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I am your proverbial health buff… yes, the yoga-practicing, Kombucha-drinking, tincture-dropping,
tofu-munching kind. It’s annoying at best, especially since one can so easily stay svelte on a regimen of
espresso and nicotine. But then I just look at a picture of than Janice Dickinson and I’m right back to OM-ing.
Truth is, the only qualm I have about the natural lifestyle (aside from the Birkenstocks) is the damper it puts on my nightlife. Every time I approach a bar, it’s like an epic battle between my inner-health-buff and my inner-working-professional-who-just-wants-a-stiff-drink. The healthy Me is all, “Liver damage, enamel corrosion, hypertension, excessive sugar, empty calories …” and there’s my other side who can’t say anything because she’s drooling over the thought of a pomegranate mojito.
And thus, my greatest challenge has been to establish some semblance of accord between that which is good for my health and that which is good for my sanity. So imagine my thrill when the alcohol industry began to see a lucrative target market in granola-crunchers like myself. The bait: an innovative line of vitamin- and nutrient-infused liquors. Nutritious alcohol? The Holy Grail of health-conscious boozers! (Cue: angelic choir.)
Among the most compelling options, is Blue Ice Organic Wheat Vodka, certified by the USDA and distilled in the heartland of Idaho. It goes through a rigorous filtration process to remove impurities, resulting in a smooth taste without common additives like citric acid or glycerides. If you prefer a more flavorful spirit, you can opt for Fragoli Strawberry Liqueur, chockful of hand-picked antioxidant-rich strawberries. Stir in some of the Colorado-born iX Mixer for an extra splash of electrolytes, vitamins and minerals to combat dehydration and preclude that impending hangover.
Be wary of a concoction of a particular kind called Devotion, the industry’s first 80 proof triple-distilled protein-infused vodka.
Whenever you throw protein into something, you run the risk of intersecting the muscle-head demographic. This was my skepticism with Devotion… until they picked up the Jersey Shore’s Situation as their spokesman. Needless to say, skip this packy purchase.
If you want to stick to the typical bar lineup, opt for red wine with its heart-healthy polyphenols; or whiskey, which incidentally has the same antioxidant content as your daily dose of Vitamin C and contains the same cancer-fighting ellagic acid that you’ll find in fruit.
With these innovative options, I am no longer between on-the-rocks and a hard place when it comes to my recreational sipping. I’ll drink to that, hold the guilt.
EDITOR AT LARGE
CHIEF FASHION CORRESPONDENT
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