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  Ingrid's Blog


  Thursday, March 26, 2009
Ode To Working Moms
I have been reluctant in the past to write about one of my biggest role models and favorite celebrities. The fact is that I see her a few times a week at our local Starbucks (the one that we share since we live in the same neighborhood), but to write about her felt a bit like being part of the paparazzi. I like to respect her privacy, and although I try and collect every piece of information I can about her with each passing glance, I don't like to broadcast her morning ritual like a cheap magazine.

But, today Maria Shriver was sitting next to me, and I can't help but shout from the top of the green umbrella how impressed I was with her real-life demeanor.

Maria represents the yoga within by always being totally focused on whom she is speaking with. In each discussion, she looks people in the eye, listens to all that they have to say, and even laughs at their jokes, if called for.

It's not as if she hasn't had many chapters in her 54 years, allowing for the opportunity of endless mind chatter. After being born into the Kennedy family, as the niece of JFK, she soon became a journalist after finishing her degree in American Studies at Georgetown University. She has had durable jobs as a reporter or co-anchor on CBS Morning News, Sunday Today, NBC Nightly News, and Dateline NBC. Soon after she started her national broadcasting career, she married The Governator, and despite their opposing political views, they have had a long-standing marriage of 23 years.

Since then, they have had four kids, 2 boys and 2 girls, who now range in age from 11 to 19. She leads an Annual "Womens' Conference" that brings together leading women from all walks of life, as pictured here. Furthermore, she has published 6 amazing and very readable books about life circumstances, including Alzheimer's disease and coming of age:

* Ten Things I Wish I'd Known Before I Went Out Into The Real World
* What's Wrong With Timmy?.
* What's Happening to Grandpa?
* And One More Thing Before You Go....
* What's Heaven?
* Just Who Will You Be?

In real-life, Maria is consistently well composed every time I see her. I observe her with different crowds - most often with her husband, but sometimes the kids join them, and today she had a meeting with two business professionals. Whomever she is with, she holds herself together like a true representation of American royalty-straight-backed, feminine, and always respectable.

Another yogic characteristic that I admire in Maria is her ability to be "low-maintenance", or living her material life simply. She comes to these meetings in her sneakers and workout gear, but still looking well put together and composed. Her grey cotton sweatshirt matches her flattering black leggings, and that is all she really needs. She doesn't wear an ounce of make-up, and her hair is casually tossed neatly on top of her head. She doesn't leave her gorgeous engagement and wedding band behind either. Her marriage is also something that I put on my list of admirable traits, including the way she connects and communicates with Arnold. Despite all the highs and lows of life, and the political differences between them, they still always are in good spirits around each other.

It is with these thoughts that I hope my letter of praise makes it one day to her desk, since I would like her to know that the person who walks by her everyday making shy glances in their direction, really would like to say "Namaste - may the light in me, reflect the light in you".

Posted by Ingrid on 03/26 at 04:31 AM
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  Thursday, March 19, 2009
Creating Your Inner Circle
Have you ever noticed that we often become our surroundings and start to base our life decisions on the decisions made by others whom we encounter every day? I notice this the most when I travel and visit friends who are walking down a different path. When I return to New York to visit my Wall Street friends, I remember what it was like to be climbing the corporate ladder and searching for the next promotion. That was a great chapter in my life and I enjoyed it greatly at the time. But now, things have changed, and as CEO of my own company, it is only I who stands on that ladder. I can swing, I can jump, and I can certainly tumble.

Realizing more now that most life decisions are completely my own, and also realizing that I still am affected by those I keep in my company, I ask myself, who do I want to keep as "colleagues" to influence and affect my life decisions?

As I do this, I think of people that I admire and inspire me. I think of ones that are living their lives in a positive, fulfilling, and confident way. Obviously I toss out any friends involved in drugs or other bad habits, but I also toss out ones who gossip, tell lies, or speak about others behind their back. Do I want that negativity in my life if I get to choose?

One of the people I choose to keep is Tom Morley, now a friend, but he has always been one of my favorite yoga teachers. I chose Tom to play the part of the Dad in Yoga for Families, having chosen him for his natural good looks and attractive personality (Studies show good-looking people are more likely to grab and keep our attention, per the September 2007 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology).

I barely knew him at the time we took off for a week of filming in Cancun, Mexico, but after a few days, I realized that Tom is more than just a handsome face. Tom is compassionate, focused, honest, and all around agreeable.

As evidence, this week, I not only made a short film on Tom to highlight his good work during the shoot, but he told us a story after yoga that illustrates his great contribution to our lives. It goes something like this:

“There is not much that differentiates us from the bums that walk around on the street talking to themselves. We too constantly talk to ourselves, but the difference is that we just do it silently. We continue to tell ourselves stories - that we're too fat, don't make enough money, should be getting married, raising children differently, etc. We often tell ourselves these stories really loud, like those people screaming on the streets, so that it completely takes over our thoughts and we can think of nothing else. In addition, we repeat the same stories over and over again, like Joe on the corner.

If we continue to let our minds run in a million directions all the time, with all this conversation, we can certainly drive ourselves crazy. Actually, the irony is that these thoughts are keeping our full potential in prison, keeping us locked up in our mind.

The trick is to stop the mind from repeating these stories. It is the only way we are to become sane. Take time to still the mind. Take time to focus on the present moment."

I believe the reason Tom was such a blessing and a pleasure during our 5 a.m. casting calls and long week of shooting, was due to his dedicated meditation time. He religiously took time to calm the mind, and empty it of any stories or thoughts that may creep in during the day.

When he was present on the set, he was truly 100% present. He was focused, energetic, and loving. I truly couldn't have done the shoot without him and his good energy. It is for this reason that I created a movie that pays tribute to Tom, showing some of the on-camera as well as a few behind-the-scenes shots. As you will see, he is a blessing, I am proud to have him and keep him in my inner circle.

Feel free to check out my tribute to him, including some "behind the scenes" shots from Mexico:

Posted by Ingrid on 03/19 at 11:30 AM
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  Friday, March 13, 2009
Are You Communicating With Your Companion?
My company, Yoga To Have Fun, is all about using yoga exercises to open up communication and strengthen relationships within the family. I started this company based on the principle that after yoga, people are more centered and focused, allowing them to better communicate, listen, and support each other.

Most often when we say family, it implies children, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, and cousins. But, let's not forget about a big part of the family - the husband and wife. Hello?! Without them, none of us would be here!

In his book, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, Robert Putnam found that married partners engaged in an average of less than an hour a week of conversation. Now, who really needs the yoga more - The child who has trouble focusing or the silent adults? Obviously, it's a stiff competition, and they both do!

At the same time, one of the top theories that I learned at business school was that the strategy and tone of any organization starts at the top. The CEO sets the attitude and approach towards business for their employees and each of the products. We see this at Southwest Airlines, where Herb Kelleher was continually leading casual business meetings and cracking jokes. Thus, we have Southwest flight attendants wearing khakis, teasing each other over the intercom, and the clients having a fun, while valuable experience.

So, if we have couples who don't talk to each other, and don't pay attention to each other, what are the children to think, and more importantly, what is the state of our future?

The answer? Yoga! As Beth Lapides put it recently in her article in the March issue of LAYoga, "the couple that bends together, mends together". Why not? If we dedicate time to center ourselves, and then share that focus and attention with our partner for life, who knows amazing stuff can come out of that?

I personally have used yoga as my relationship "band-aid" many times. When I see a disagreement or issue arising with a partner, I often say "let's go to yoga first before we discuss this". It's like fairy dust for potential arguments. The discussion always goes a lot smoother than it would have if we had started with the history of our day and demands still right in front of us.

In addition, I also often get teased for having first dates in the yoga studio. Of course I would! If I want to get to know someone, I want to get to know the true him. This has a much better chance of coming out after an hour of centering and self-awareness. Catching someone after sitting in traffic or running from the office is rarely going to bring out the best (a.k.a. your true self) in anyone.

As you walk away today from your computer, Blackberry, or iPhone, see if there is an opportunity to put my theory to the test. Set up a time to take a yoga class with your true companion and see if the communication, and thus, the relationship, is different before and after class. Look at what types of conversations come up during that post-yoga bliss. If you find something, then let me know. As I mentioned, with yoga, we can change our futures. It is just a matter of finding an hour.

Posted by Ingrid on 03/13 at 05:23 AM
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  Friday, March 06, 2009
The Power of Film
Have you ever ran into a television or film persona in real life and before realizing that you have seen them only on screen, wondered where you have met them before? We often confuse tv or film personas with people we meet in real life, and we often feel very connected to them although we have never met them.

Over my short career on video, I have already had this happen to me, where people come up to me, recognizing me, and feeling like they know me, although we have never met before. Because Yoga To Have Fun videos are a very accurate representative of who I am and what I believe in, I am happy to have them get to know me via film. A video is worth more than a thousand words!

Then, last week when I included a request for video testimonials in my blog from viewers of the Yoga To Have Fun titles, I was most excited to see some of the people who had done my video in real life. Chances were either that I hadn't seen them in a long time, or perhaps never knew them before. I couldn't wait to use the technology of video to connect with some of my viewers in the reverse direction. I opened up my inbox each morning with anticipation of seeing a video link with some amazing yoga demonstrations.

Since I was requesting it from my audience, I thought I might as well give a homemade video a try myself. I had someone hold the camera while I was in Rotterdam recently at a film festival, and performed a handstand against a Dutch windmill. It was so much fun! I loved documenting myself performing a favorite pose in a fun destination. With some simple video tools, I quickly put the clip to music, and within 10 mins, my file was uploaded and available on YouTube. Amazing! Here it is:

The power of film is absolutely fantastic, and since we have the technology at our finger tips, why not use it to share ourselves with the world? I want to see you on film, and then when we meet in real life, I want to feel like I know you. Send me your video clips today!

Om Shanti and Break a leg,

Posted by Ingrid on 03/06 at 04:57 AM
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