Hilaria Baldwin is a woman of many facets. Yoga instructor. “Extra” TV correspondent. Proudly amused mother of three. Wife of Alec, aka President Trump on “SNL.”
But perhaps the role that best describes her — and encompasses all the others — is wellness goddess.
Indeed, as she puts 130 yogis through a high energy class that flows from aerobics to downward- and up-dog poses, she sports a workout T emblazed with the legend, “Goddess Vibes.” And like many a goddess, there is something fiercely maternal about her.
“Close your eyes,” she says as the class sinks blissfully into relaxation pose. “There’s nothing you need to see. I will protect you.”
You come to in a euphoric mood. But then, there’s something profoundly liberating about practicing yoga amid the accessories departments of Bloomingdale’s White Plains — all those cat, cobra and bug asanas mingling with denim platforms, gladiator sandals and Kate Spade handbags.
After a taste of the classes offered at Baldwin’s Manhattan-based studio, Yoga Vida, participants get a different kind of taste — of satisfying fruit and vegetable smoothies made from recipes in her new book, “The Living Clearly Method: 5 Principles for a Fit Body, Healthy Mind & Joyful Life.” For the former dancer, yoga serves a physical purpose, but more important, it offers an opportunity for emotional, mental and spiritual growth and balance.
“’The Living Clearly Method’ is a set of five principles — perspective, breathing, grounding, balance and letting go — and through these, I’ve found that — for me and for other students that I teach — that we can get to a place that we’re a lot more present in life,” she says. “We can be living clearly, so we can live life as it’s happening.”
Her message comes from experience. Dividing her childhood between Spain and the United States, Baldwin began studying dance at age 2 and, by 13, she was competing in Latin ballroom dance competitions throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. She went on to study dance and art history at New York University.
However, despite her successes, the demanding schedule took a toll on Baldwin, who had been fighting a long battle with anorexia and bulimia.
“I could have told you that it was silly,” she says. “I could have told you that I should have eaten better and known how to eat well. But it was so much a part of my body in terms of what I did that it became muscle memory. And it became addiction.”
Her wakeup came in 2009, shortly after she co-founded Yoga Vida. As the result of a bad fall, Baldwin’s leg bone completely severed from her hip. The yearlong recovery was challenging for the dancer-turned-yogi, who was suddenly confined to a wheelchair for three months after living a life of rigorous movement. But it was this experience that spurred her desire to adapt a new mindset and, consequentially, a new way of life.
“I was somebody who really had to get knocked over to get the message,” Baldwin says. “I had a lot of time to think — almost like getting a timeout when you’re a kid — and I saw what resulted from going, going, going, going, going and not listening to myself and not taking care of my body. I never, ever wanted to do it again. That was my wakeup call.”
This new perspective gave her an acute awareness of her mind, body and soul, which she implemented by following the five principles in her book.
Perspective, she says, is the ability to “see what’s going on in the situation instead of having blinders on.” Breathing is the power to “breathe through a situation,” as “we have the tendency to hold our breath.” Grounding is the notion that “once you feel your body touching the floor, you move into the present moment. When you think about tomorrow,” she says, “your body will stress into the reaction by going into the future.” Balance is achieved by asking, “Where’s my center and how can I juggle all of the different things that I have to juggle? How can I find the place that really serves me?” And Letting Go entails questions, such as, “What do I have to hold onto? Can I say ‘no’ to somebody, even though that might disappoint them?”
These five principles, coupled with Baldwin’s yoga practice, allowed her to overcome her greatest challenges. And, with her book, she strives to help others overcome theirs.
“The more moments I could get ‘into,’ the more capable I was of changing my path,” she says. “And changing my behavior.”
And if Baldwin, a businesswoman and busy mom of three — Carmen, age 3, Rafael, 20 months, and Leonardo Ángel, 6 months — can make time for Zen, anyone can.
She begins each day with asking herself: “How can I find moments throughout the day that remind me to take care of myself?
“It might be only 30 seconds there, five minutes here and five minutes there,” she says. “Doing it throughout the day and constantly checking in, even if that means just for a few seconds, that’s what it’s all about.”
As Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu would say: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a simple step.” And for the pathway to wellness, Baldwin suggests this first step is listening to your body.
“Am I hungry? Am I tired? Am I happy? Does my significant other make me happy? Do my friends make me happy? Does my job make me happy? All of that has to do with checking in and asking, ‘How do I feel?’”
And, of course, incorporating some movement — like yoga, perhaps.
“All of us need a little yoga to get through these years,” she says, laughing.
Baldwin’s book is available for purchase at Barnes and Noble or on amazon.com.