Why Women, Wine & Yoga?
From my authentic self, to you.
By Lauren Aiello
The seed for Women, Wine & Yoga was planted back in 2007 when I stepped into my first yoga class. It was daunting at the time. I remember looking around the room feeling slightly delirious – was I at a Cirque du Soleil show? People bending this way and that, balancing on this and that… What was I doing here? I remember feeling intimidated.
I had always heard of yoga being “good for you.” That yoga, “increases flexibility…” Besides, I had always been a health conscious person, so yoga seemed to be something I should be doing. Although I must admit, deep down, a large part of me really wanted to be that yoga girl we all know, effortlessly posing against a sunset background on one foot while her other foot somehow flawlessly stretched itself far above her head. How did she do that? I had to know. So there I was. For the next hour, I committed myself to trying something new. There was no going back.
Although as the class went on, I had yet to find my foot over my head... Then, something happened. In the background of my mind, in the middle of attempting some twisted, bent over, one legged, flying something-or-other pose, I heard the room around me take a deep breath in…
“… and now let it out,” said the instructor.
My confused, tangled self, did just that. At the bottom of my exhale, I had stepped into the yogi zone. My mind went quiet and my body did the work. The rhythm of my breath was louder than any thought. Still, pose after pose I had no idea what I was doing. I could barely even touch my toes. But it didn't matter. My breath continued to sustain me. Sustain my mind and my body. Somewhere between the strife for perfection, and the desire to just rest, I had found the sweet spot of balance. Optimal functioning. Something my father always says, "you do the best with what you've got."
There is no race in yoga, nor is there a destination. Yoga is about introspection and embracing the you who maybe isn’t that “yoga girl” posing effortlessly with her foot stretched overhead. But it’s the you who showed up. It’s the you who dares to try something new, whether that be walking into your first yoga class, or taking that daunting leap as you attempt your first headstand. I am still working on mine! We must recognize this opportunity for self-love on and off the mat.
More than anything, we must recognize the soul of yoga - meditation - because all things pure come from this quiet place.
I am grateful for yoga because it has unlocked the gate to another world in my life - a mindset, an outlet, a purpose... I embrace the yoga lifestyle because it feels like home. I take it everywhere with me. Bits and pieces. A sun salutation here, a mantra meditation there. It is an individual practice this way. But most of all, yoga has always, and will always be about breath for me. It is the source of all things calm. Yoga challenges us to find that space. While if what you see might seem out of your comfort zone at first, I invite you to take a breath - you may be surprised at what happens next.
My experience with wine has been one similar to that of yoga. Inspired by curiosity, I discovered a passion. And a lesson in following my intuition and trusting The Universe.
I was inevitably introduced to the world of wine living in the heart of Sonoma wine country. There is no place like wine country. The rolling hills of vineyards, the small towns, the food, the awesome buzz when harvest comes. Although this was never the plan, I found myself completely immersed in the industry. It seemed to encompass everything I find intriguing - nature, art, science, psychology... So, I spent time working in vineyards, cellars, hospitality, and even traveled to wine countries around the world. I wasn't slowing down for anything.
Two years later, after time managed to catch up with my adventures, I had found myself feeling somewhat lost. I had come to realize my original career plans, which at the time were to continue down the path of getting my PhD in Psychology and to solve the world's problems, were somehow no longer existent. Something didn't resonate with me and I couldn't put it into words - it was like I was being called to adventure and explore more. To find myself and to find my true calling. Although still, I wondered, how could I have lost the spark? I went to school for this, I had set myself up. Maybe I never had the spark. Maybe I was forcing what I thought was my destiny this whole time. So there I was, starting over.
All the while, self doubt showed up. Questions of my life's purpose weighed heavy on me. What was my new plan? I did not know. I had been on autopilot. I had been aimlessly exploring. So I decided to take a bet on the only thing I knew for certain at the time - my intuition. I was having fun. There is happiness in fun. And there is truth in happiness. That felt right. I continued to follow my heart and my new found passion for wine. I had to trust it would all lead to something because The Universe works in mysterious ways.
What drew me to wine was the essence of nature captivated in a bottle. Wine brings me close to the earth. I had taken a job as a grape sampler one year, and had to learn over 70 vineyards between Napa Valley and Sonoma. I remember walking vineyard rows before sunrise one morning and finding such calm in the quiet around me. I had never felt so connected to nature. There is life here, there is rejuvenation and inspiration here. From berry to bottle, wine is an evolving beautiful thing. The countless hands, minds, devoted lives, that have helped cultivate and create the finished product! There is a soul that lives in wine. If we slow down, we can feel it. We can taste it. Wine challenges us to be mindful - to truly taste and revel in the beautiful little nuances. Because wine speaks. Vineyards speak. The artist winemaker speaks. You might say drinking wine is a spiritual practice...
I have come to believe that when we find ourselves completely immersed in whatever it is we have found to be fulfilling, we should pay attention to that. It is our higher self speaking to us. Things just work better when we are happy. Wine and yoga make me happy.
My path has lead to this moment. The moment where I can say all that has occurred in my life, has gotten me closer to living out my purpose here on this planet. We evolve and our journey evolves. My motto to you - explore, expand, inspire - because I have found expansion and inspiration through exploration. We must stay curious, honor intuition, and seek fulfillment.
Women, Wine & Yoga speaks to my authentic self - my journey, my beliefs and my aspirations for our world. It brings me joy to provide a platform for likeminded women to come together to learn, to create, to enjoy, to celebrate, to embrace, and to empower. I invite you to join me on the path to higher consciousness.