Photo Credit: laurenharris
Walk the streets of Manhattan at any time of the day or night and you are bound to see a handful of men and women clutching a colorful yoga mat that’s rolled neatly and tightly under their arms as they dash through town in search of a fix. For these devotees, a day without yoga is not an option. These yogis are oh-so-dedicated and will travel near and far to strike the perfect asana whether downward-facing dog, warrior pose or a handstand with the City’s top yoga gurus.
Lauren Harris is one of most sought out members of this elite group of yogis. Known as the “best handstand teacher ever,” Harris is a former attorney who offers classes throughout Manhattan at various A-list studios, as well as private lessons. Harris’s encouraging hands-on approach is designed to make students fall in love with the practice of yoga.
She sat down with Beauty in the Bag to discuss her love of all things yoga, why and how she choose this path, and how to find the perfect yoga style.
How did you become interested in yoga?
I went to a yoga class with a girlfriend while in Austin, Texas for the Austin City Limits Music Festival. The class was great and I was inspired by what the other students were able to do with their bodies. I also found it physically challenging and interesting so as soon as I returned home from the trip I went out in search of more yoga classes. I’ve been practicing regularly ever since!
Can anyone practice yoga?
Yes. The beauty of the practice is that there really is yoga for everyone, and everyone who desires can practice yoga. There are many different styles of yoga, so I would encourage new students to keep an open mind until they find the class that is right for them. There are also classes that cater to students with specific needs, i.e. prenatal yoga and yoga for seniors. For students working with injuries or with physical limitations, I would recommend calling the studio ahead of time to have the studio recommend the appropriate teacher and/or class.
What are the main body benefits of this practice?
There are so many! I think one of the most important is keeping the spine long, mobile and healthy. Many students benefit from the physical stretching of tight muscles, which can help prevent injury. Yoga can be very strengthening as well. Body awareness and confidence is also a big plus.
How does yoga help the mind?
A lot of us deal with a lot of “chatter” in our heads. I have found that while I’m practicing I’m able to “get out of my head” – or quiet my mind. It can be unbelievably stress-reducing in that way! Many yogis find the practice to be incredibly relaxing, especially when combined with meditation.
Tell us about your other healthy habits.
I live in Manhattan and as much as possible I walk wherever I go. I eat a healthy, mostly vegan diet and drink lots of water. I have two children so it can be a challenge – but I try to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I love yoga and I love sharing the practice with others. I am so grateful that students enjoy my classes and trust me to teach them. I get giddy with excitement when a student hits a new pose for the first time in my class. And every once in a while, a student will approach me after class and tell me how much they needed my class(es), how its helped them get through hard times and/or how much better they feel after having practiced with me. That is so incredibly rewarding – I love my job!