Empowering Women in Well-being:Sarah Ezrin On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

Empowering Women in Well-being:Sarah Ezrin On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

Our wellness journey is a marathon not a race.

I wish I had started practicing for longevity and vitality younger. Instead, I pushed myself hard in every possible way, hoping for faster results. I know now that wellness is a long game. I’m no longer doing yoga to get my leg behind my head. I do it so I can pick my grandkids up when I’m 80.

Empowering Women in Well-being:Sarah Ezrin On The Five Lifestyle Tweaks That Will Help Support People’s Journey Towards Better Wellbeing

Today, more than ever, wellness is at the forefront of societal discussions. From mental health to physical well-being, women are making significant strides in bringing about change, introducing innovative solutions, and setting new standards. Despite facing unique challenges, they break barriers, inspire communities, and are reshaping the very definition of health and wellness. In this series called women in wellness we are talking to women doctors, nurses, nutritionists, therapists, fitness trainers, researchers, health experts, coaches, and other wellness professionals to share their stories and insights. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Sarah Ezrin.

Sarah Ezrin is a world-renowned yoga educator, content creator, mama, and the award-winning author of The Yoga of Parenting based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Sarah loves guiding people along their wellness and parenthood journeys. Her words, classes, and social media are supportive, healing sources for people to feel seen and heard.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

Thank you both for having me and for creating this special series! I’ve been teaching yoga for over fifteen years now, but my journey with wellness started much earlier than that. I was nine years old the first time I took diet pills. My mom (a serial dieter) had been selling Herbalife supplements and doing their program of green and beige pills with meal replacement shakes. I had gained a lot of weight due to medications I was on and asked if I could take the pills. Come to find out years later, those pills contained Ephedra (effectively speed)! I continued to crash diet right alongside my mom until I hit puberty, when I shot up in height and my baby weight sloughed off, but anytime there was great stress in my life (which was often as I grew up in a home of alcoholics) I still saw myself as that unhappy little girl and my knee jerk response would be to diet or compulsively workout. My disordered eating peaked in college when I was so underweight I was nearly hospitalized, but something else happened then too: I got into yoga.

I know now that all the dieting I had done when I was younger was a roundabout attempt to leave my body. It was uncomfortable living in such uncertainty. Doing yoga was the first time I felt embodied, powerful and strong.

I decided to make it my full time career in my mid-20’s. I had been working a high stress and low reward job in the film industry, when my mom was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and I realized that life is too short to not do what you love. I walked off the movie lot and into my yoga teacher training program and I never looked back. That was 2008.

Here we are 15+ years later and I just wrote my first book, The Yoga of Parenting and I’ve had the privilege of traveling the world to teach. I feel like there is still so much more to come. Because my body and circumstances keep changing so often, it feels like I’m just getting started in a lot of ways!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

Great question. I have a LOT of stories from a high profile celebrity client shorting me five bucks to embarrassing teaching mistakes, like sleeping through a private or forgetting a regular’s name over and over, but I would have to say that the most interesting story might be a lesson I learned from a student back in 2012.

I used to have students demonstrate advanced poses for the class to attempt (poses I would never teach now!) and I had a girl do a headstand variation and as she came down, I made a negative comment about my own body. Something like, “Well I’d never land that lightly!” or “I’m a lot bigger than that!”

After class, a woman who is an eating disorder specialist (at the very clinic I had attended a decade prior) took me aside and told me how much my words matter. She told me that we don’t know that woman’s history or the circumstances of anyone in the room. I was also extremely underweight at the time (having been caught back up in my eating disorder, which this woman did not know).

This experience taught me that making any size comparison with your students or discussing size in any way, might be incredibly triggering for a lot of people. It also brings the focus to the outside when yoga and wellness is all about what is happening on the inside.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about a mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I have made many mistakes over the years and continue to do so! I tell my kids all the time that mistakes are just opportunities for growth. A mistake I made when I first started practicing and teaching was being too dogmatic. I had very black and white thinking. I truly thought the same rules applied to everyone, like alignment of poses. I thought there was one prescription we all needed to follow to be happy. As a result, I spent years beating myself up with intense practices and disordered eating and I am embarrassed to say that I likely perpetuated that culture in my classes.

As the years went on and I got older, faced multiple injuries, and became a mom, I started to see how nuanced and unique everyone’s paths are. I thought I’d be overwhelmed. It was much easier to “cure” someone’s back pain with a yoga pose! Now I know that my job as a yoga teacher isn’t to give people the answers. My job is to guide people to find their own answers.

Let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

Changing the world starts from within. Yoga is not just about making shapes with our bodies. In fact, the physical practice is just a sliver of what the larger practice is about, which is connection. I love facilitating that connection any way I can. Sure, I’m teaching people breathing techniques or guided meditations, but what I’m really trying to help them do is to tune into the present moment.

I’m helping them (I don’t believe we teach people this) listen to their intuition. I’m helping them connect with themselves so that when class or the retreat is over they will be that much more kind, present, and attuned in the world.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing?

1 . Commit to reflective alone time either first thing in the morning or late at night when the rest of the world is sleeping.

Every day I wake up at 430a so I can have a few hours before the kids wake up and the madness of the day begins. Not everyone is a morning person, so I believe you can accomplish this at night, too! You just need quiet time during your day, where devices or off, you’re not giving to anyone and you can just be with yourself

2 . If you sit all day, get up and move. If you run around all day, sit down and be still.

There’s a saying in the yoga world that “opposites heal.” Whatever you find yourself doing most of the day, use your yoga practice to counter that.

3 . Unfollow accounts on social media that make you feel bad about yourself.

The content we consume gets digested just like the food we eat. Make healthy choices on what you bring into your purview. If someone or something is making you feel bad about yourself, then cut it! My friend Tamika Caston-Miller says “Blocked is blessed.”

4 . Self-care is an attitude, not an activity

We’ve all heard the sell that bubble baths or massages are self-care, but they’re not reducing any stress if you spend the whole time on your phone or missing your kids. The self-care practice starts with your attitude and energy. It’s unapologetically doing what you need.

5 . Count memories not calories.

When we get really rigid about what we’re eating or how we’re living we can miss out on important life experiences. Consider measuring the amount you laugh versus what you weigh.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I think it all starts with the moms and primary caregivers! I would love to start a class for moms and primary caregivers where they could come and be free and let out all of their emotions and sing and cry and laugh. Having a safe space to be held will allow them to show up more presently and compassionately for their little ones, which in turn will be setting our greater world up to be a kinder and more present place!

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  1. Wellness is unique to each of us.

Life would be so much easier if there was one answer for all of us, but it would also be super boring! Wellness is incredibly nuanced and what keeps things interesting is that we are always changing. My 25 year old needs were very different from my 41 year old needs. Stay curious about what wellness looks like for you in this instance. Life is more exciting that way!

2. Health is an inside job.

I spent the majority of my life trying to “look healthy” at the detriment of my actual health. My eating disorder was rampant at peak points in my career. I thought I had to be vegan. I thought I had to workout the majority of my day. I know now that those choices were actually creating more inner turmoil and though they may have looked “healthy” on paper, it was stopping those behaviors and starting to be kinder to myself that was the healthiest choice.

3. More advanced yoga poses do not equal happiness.

My friend Anusha Wijeyakumar recently said something along the lines of, “If handstands led to enlightenment, we’d all be enlightened.” A lot of people pursue yoga hoping the physical practice will find them peace and happiness, but it is the internal practice of stillness, acceptance, and presence that does that.

4. Sleep is more important than any workout.

I’ve guilted myself many mornings for sleeping past my alarm, but the truth is that without sleep our body doesn’t have the energy it needs to get through the workout we’re trying to do. This isn’t to say you sleep in every morning, but when you are truly exhausted: choose sleep.

5. Our wellness journey is a marathon not a race.

I wish I had started practicing for longevity and vitality younger. Instead, I pushed myself hard in every possible way, hoping for faster results. I know now that wellness is a long game. I’m no longer doing yoga to get my leg behind my head. I do it so I can pick my grandkids up when I’m 80.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health, and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

I may get some flack for this, but I think mental health trumps all of those. Are you really helping the environment if you’re making yourself incredibly stressed out trying to only shop organically or live sustainably? Our energy can be a toxin too and sometimes the choices we need to make for our own sanity may not appear to be of benefit to the greater world. But if we look at the big picture, we see that our bodies and minds are our greatest tools to exact change. If we’re sacrificing our own well-being for others, then we may be doing more harm than good. Take care of yourself. Check in with your heart.

What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?

I love connecting with people! You can find me on instagram, TikTok, or YouTube or connect with me at my website www.sarahezrinyoga.com. For more info on my book, please head to The Yoga of Parenting.

Thank you for these fantastic insights! We wish you continued success and good health.

Thank you for having me!

About the interviewer: Wanda Malhotra is a wellness entrepreneur, lifestyle journalist, and the CEO of Crunchy Mama Box, a mission-driven platform promoting conscious living. CMB empowers individuals with educational resources and vetted products to help them make informed choices. Passionate about social causes like environmental preservation and animal welfare, Wanda writes about clean beauty, wellness, nutrition, social impact and sustainability, simplifying wellness with curated resources. Join Wanda and the Crunchy Mama Box community in embracing a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle at CrunchyMamaBox.com.

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