Zulily Q&A With Arianna Huffington On ‘Thrive’

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GPS for the Soul – The Huffington Post
Zulily Q&A With Arianna Huffington On ‘Thrive’
Arianna Huffington’s memoir, Thrive, is out today and we were able to talk with her about her inspiration for the book, tips for finding balance and what she thinks is the real key to success in life. Check out zulily today for a great deal on the book and a selection of Arianna’s must-haves to find rest, relaxation and balance in life.

This Yogi Is Helping At-Risk Teens Find Their Zen
Erin Lila Wilson discovered the transformative powers of yoga and meditation when she was 13. But she had no idea that she would end up dedicating her life to sharing those lessons with other teens in need of a little guidance.

Growing up in North Carolina, Wilson spent her younger years training in classical ballet. When her teacher insisted that she practice yoga to improve strength and flexibility — two key components for dancing — she agreed to give it a try. Since there was no yoga studio in her area at the time, she purchased a beginner’s yoga video and got to work in her living room.

“I’ll never forget how I felt after doing my first yoga practice, especially coming out of the deep relaxation,” Wilson told The Huffington Post. “I felt this sense of peace and calm inside of my mind and body that I didn’t even know was possible.”

Wilson continued to practice yoga throughout high school as a hobby. Meditation joined her routine after a counselor taught her relaxation techniques to soothe her severe stage fright.

“It helped me realized that I’m not my thoughts, and I’m not the stress I experience in my life,” Wilson said. “There’s a part of myself that’s always calm in spite of stressful circumstances, and I could use these tools to access it.”

Wilson took these practices to St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., where she studied music with hopes of becoming a professional pianist. But in 2005, during her senior year, a wrist injury put piano playing on hold. In its place, she began lending more time to yoga. She decided to take an Integral Yoga teacher training course to deepen her practice.

Wilson initially had no intention of teaching. But the certification program helped her realize that sharing yoga with others was her life’s calling. She told her parents about her change of heart, completed her music degree and moved to New York to pursue her new passion. She taught in a variety of studios and gyms, working with toddlers, seniors and even cancer patients. But she didn’t teach teens.

Her conscious avoidance of that age group came to an end in 2007, when an instructor from her teacher-training group told her about a program that brought yoga to at-risk teens at an alternative high school in the city. It offered yoga as a physical education credit, and included workshops on how yoga could be a life practice as well as a physical one. While reluctant and intimidated at first, Wilson joined the program. She’s never looked back.

“From the moment I started, I just totally fell in love with teaching teens,” she said. “I realized that it’s such a gift to bring these practices to young people, because young people are so open and so receptive, and they can take these practices and these tools with them for the rest of their lives.”

She spent the following five years developing a yoga-in-schools curriculum and working with students who faced more challenges on a daily basis than many people experience in a lifetime. From gang involvement to drugs to familial abuse, these teens used lessons from Wilson’s yoga class to deal with tough life situations, reigniting a sense of hope for their futures and boosting their self-esteem.

“For most students, it takes anywhere from a month to three months to start seeing noticeable changes,” said Wilson. “I think that often this work is about planting seeds. Some students just shoot right up and blossom before your eyes, and others take some time to germinate.”

In January 2012, Wilson made a bold move and relocated to the West Coast to launch a yoga-in-schools program of her own. RISE Yoga for Youth began with a pilot run at Mission High School in San Francisco and has since expanded to seven other high schools for at-risk students in the bay area.

“It’s the population that I’m most drawn to teaching because we are reaching teens that otherwise would never have access to yoga,” said Wilson. “Yoga is expensive, so that’s one of my biggest priorities — making this practice accessible to all teens regardless of their ethnicity or economic background. Everyone deserves to have access to their own peace and their own power.”

In addition to sharing the physical experience of yoga, Wilson designed RISE to help build a sense of community, since so many students are more connected to personal technology than to the human beings around them. Using group and trust-building activities and partner and group-style yoga poses, RISE gives kids the sense of human connection they crave, but forgot how to express. The program also helps cultivate a sense of service in the students with cleaning and gardening projects at local yoga studios that donate time and space to the classes. Surprisingly, the kids enjoy the opportunity to spend time with one another as they give back.

The community openly supported Wilson and the RISE program instantly. Believing in the value of providing yoga to the kids and wanting to see it grow, residents donated time, money and space to the program, supplementing the limited school system budget and bringing RISE to more students each year.

“So many students say they feel more confident in themselves, more comfortable in their own skin,” said Wilson. “They feel empowered through the yoga practices.”

As RISE continues to expand this year, Wilson, now 31, wears several hats. She teaches six yoga classes each week, overseas her team of six teachers and their programs, meets with school administrators to make sure the program is adapting well to their needs, and works with her ever-growing community of support. She hopes to reach two more schools by the end of the year and to branch out to other parts of the region that could benefit from a program like RISE.

“I feel like we are at the brink of a huge shift in our overall cultural consciousness,” said Wilson. “We have a responsibility to nurture our children’s inner lives as well as to give them a more formal education. And recognizing our inherent worth is one of the most beautiful aspects of bringing yoga to young people.”

Membership Has Its Perils: One Sorority You Should Never Join (But Might Be In Already)
Molly* was a pediatrician who loved her job. In her off hours, she competed in triathlons. But at 37 years old, Molly had never been married. In fact, she hadn’t had a relationship that had lasted for more than a year since graduating from medical school. Molly owned a house, invested in the stock market and loved to travel. She also had a lot of friends, both single and married. But she really wanted to get married and start a family. On her 38th birthday, Molly met someone, and after a whirlwind romance, they got married. But when the dust settled, Molly discovered that many of her friends had scattered.

Kylie was an adorable but struggling actress with a supportive boyfriend who himself was a struggling musician. They waited tables and lived paycheck to paycheck while pursuing their passions. Kylie’s friends all rooted for her as she went to audition after audition, but nothing ever panned out. Finally, she got cast in a pilot for a TV show. When her career took off, many of her friendships sputtered out.

Sylvia had a successful career in computer software sales and had been married to her college sweetheart for 10 years. Sylvia had always struggled with her weight and that was something that really bothered her. Her friends always reassured her that they accepted her exactly the way she was. Sylvia didn’t realize that they meant that literally. In other words, their friendship was conditioned upon her remaining exactly the way she was — overweight and unhappy about it. When Sylvia began eating healthy, working out and losing weight, her friends were suddenly far less supportive. The less of Sylvia there was to accept, the less accepting her friends became.

Molly, Kylie, and Sylvia each started out with different problems. But when they solved their respective problems, they ended up with a new problem in common: They were ousted from the Two Out of Three Club because their friends now viewed them as triple threats.

The Two Out of Three Club is a sorority of women dedicated to keeping each other from living full lives. Few people know that the sorority exists, and fewer still realize that they are active members of it. Like computer zombies that are part of a vast botnet, women in this sorority work overtime to sabotage each other’s success, yet they aren’t even aware that they are part of this destructive network.

Members of the Two Out of Three Club condition their friendship with you on your having only two out of the following three things going for you: looks, success and happiness. If you have a great career and a fantastic boyfriend, you’d better look like Ugly Betty. If you are gorgeous and have a job that you love, your boyfriend better be a jackass. If you and your significant other have a good thing going and you’re also attractive, you’d better have a boss like Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada.

Members of this club will provide a shoulder for you to cry on when it comes to that one area where things never seem to go well for you. They’ll even pretend to cheer you on in your attempts to shore things up where you’ve always faltered. But if all three areas ever do come together for you at the same time, these friends will turn on you faster than a silver-plated ring will turn your finger green. And the reason is just as simple: These friends present a sterling outward appearance, but underneath they are actually made of a lesser metal. And when things go well for you across the board, these insecure friends turn green with envy.

Women who are members of the Two Out of Three Club are our gender’s worst enemies. They are more corrosive than those in the Priority Parent Club whose roster of stay-at-home moms disparages working moms for what they consider to be their selfish choices and substandard parenting. They do more damage than the “I Can Bring Home the Bacon” Club, whose members — working women — belittle stay-at-home moms, characterizing them as being underachieving, unevolved and uninteresting.

What makes those in the Two Out of Three Club so dangerous is they gain each other’s trust by posing as friends. They pretend to be supportive but their secret desire — often secret even to themselves — is to prevent members from reaching their maximum potential. These women are not above thwarting each other’s success in order to spare themselves from feeling insecure. Yes, ladies, the threat is coming from inside the house — and it’s every bit as creepy as it sounds.

If you just now realized that you yourself are an active member of the Two Out of Three Club and have been subconsciously rooting against your friends’ well-being, don’t despair. Now that you are aware of both the club and your membership in it, you can take steps to tear up your membership card and debug your system. The trick is to consciously override your insecurities and deliberately remain supportive as your friends overcome obstacles and achieve success.

If you discover your own friendship roster shrinking each time your list of your personal achievements grows, see this as an opportunity rather than a loss. Not only did you attain a goal you set for yourself, you smoked out a insecure zombie masquerading as a friend. The elimination of this fake friend opens up a space for a real one, instead. Double score!

March brings the first day of spring, International Women’s Day and National Women’s History Month. As such, it’s a good time to do yourself and your gender a favor by determining whether you’re a member of the Two Out of Three Club — and permanently cancel your membership if you are. Fake friendships and toxic sororities pull you under. But the mutual support that comes from sincere friendships creates a rising tide that lifts all boats. This spring, make the changes that will lead to healthy living and smooth sailing for everyone in your circle of friends.

*All characters are composites.

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