Andrea Bogart on The Practices of Yoga and Revitalizing Self Care
This past weekend we hosted our first Self Care event at the farm, with yogi, actress and inspirational addict, Andrea Bogart, leading us through a heart-opening yoga practice. It was a day that we won’t soon forget and we’re delighted to keep this tradition of Self Care at the farm going. In the meantime, I interviewed Andrea to gain some wisdom on the practice of yoga, mindfulness, and daily rituals to keep us all healthy and deeply revitalized.
How did you first get introduced to yoga and what interests you most about the practice?
I always encourage people to find the practice that works for them and that takes some mindful exploring. After living in Japan after college, I became interested in Buddhist practices. As I moved to LA, the popularity of yoga was becoming mainstream. My first class was lots of sitting and chanting and not much movement. At the time I was bored and confused as to why people would spend time doing this in a class setting, I chuckle now—I knew little about yoga or the benefits of the varying types of practices. Cut to several years later, I was dealing with major heartache, drinking too much, fatigue… basically enduring the emotional rollercoaster lifestyle of an aspiring dancer/actress in Hollywood. Simultaneously, I had a girlfriend proclaiming the class she was addicted to would be one that I’d love. She was right—it was a vinyasa flow class accompanied with awesome jams, a major sweat and divine savasanas. The more time I spent on my mat the happier and calmer I felt. Things were shifting and changing and I was discovering a lot about who I was and the life I wanted to live more fully.
Today, I’m most interested in continuing this exploration of the self and how it threads into my daily life. I’m a wife and mother now and I want to be the best I can be for my family and that inspirers me to stay curious about how I can keep growing. On a grander scale, it’s beautiful to see how many schools are implementing yoga and meditation into their curriculum. I have an ambitious dream of seeing that happen globally for our youth and educators. For the past 6 years I’ve been lending my voice in guiding others through practices because I hope people can discover, grow, heal and love from creating space for themselves in this mindful way. I am so grateful for the way it’s changed my life and passionately want to pay that forward.
What do you feel are some of the most important benefits of yoga?
Because there are so many benefits, the level of importance often varies with each person’s individual needs. That’s why exploring the various types can be useful. Breath work (Prana Yama), our life force breath, is an essential part that is helpful far beyond the time we spend on our mats. The number of times a few conscious breaths have guided me to a calm, self-regulated space are countless.
Yoga is the union of the mind, body and spirit. This ability to connect to a deeper sense of self arrives as you drop into your breath, begin to link it with movements and quiet the mind. The hope is that the discoveries you find as you explore the eight limbs of yoga will cultivate a joyful awareness that you can use as a vehicle for transformation. This connection isn't only enriching for the self but in all your relationships if you want it to be. If we come into a practice for just a work-out and not a work-in we are missing out on some delicious discoveries that can assist you in your daily life. Flexibility is another benefit that should be highlighted. While some social media feeds can confuse us into feeling like we can’t go to yoga unless we are hyper flexible, keeping mobile is a part of healthy aging. Through asanas (postures) we are stretching our bodies which will lead to an increased range of motion and life long vitality. I dedicated an entire personal blog on this topic so please free to read 10 Reasons To Practice Yoga for more.
I have attended many of your classes and am wondering how you come up with such a vast array of music that always seems to be the perfect accompaniment to your yoga routine
I have such a love for music. I believe my extensive dance training and passion for choreography is a testament to how much I enjoy creating a playlist. I want the flow of sequences and music to feel like a journey that opens your soul and sometimes that’s simply calming or fun. Spotify has been my genius helper (feel free to check my profile out). Music can transcend us at times. It can bring up emotions the same way a hip opener, sustained hold or quiet savasana can. I love bringing the two elements together as I feel it can deepen your experience and connection to the self.
What are a few of your favorite rituals or practices that keep you grounded and successfully moving along your path in the direction that is right for you?
In the morning I read from Mark Nepo’s, The Book Of Awakening and gain perspective for the day. I always take at least three deep breaths and stretch my body for a minimum of 5-10 minutes (I often include my toddler in this, it’s super cute). I make time for my yoga practice regularly and I meditate, even if it’s as I’m rocking my daughter or folding laundry. Another practice I’m finding really useful at the moment is replacing negative thought patterns with positive mantras. The ripple effects from quickly shifting out of negative thinking to positive serves me well. And one of my favorite rituals is sharing daily gratitudes. I’ve done it for years in a journal, and this year my husband and I decided to do them out loud at the dinner table and include our little girl. It’s a wonderful thing for all of us and no matter how the day has gone that seems to always put big smiles on our faces.
Do you have any recipes or favorite foods that you will share with us that keep you energized and revitalized?
Buying organic and eating clean foods with no pesticides, GMO’s, refined sugars or things I can’t pronounce is a priority that has helped me feel more revitalized than ever. You can count on me having an organic perfect bar in my purse at all times and a mix of nuts and seeds on hand for a quick snack for energy. Lot’s of fruits, veggies and usually 2-3 servings of fish and 1 red meat per week. I personally don’t have much dairy or gluten. That’s what serves my blood type and body well.
I start my day with Organic Vega protein shake almost daily. It’s energizing, supports digestion and is loaded with vitamins and nutrients so you won’t need to add many extras and can kick that multivitamin aside.
Go-To Vega Smoothie (use organic ingredients, mix in blender or NurtiBullet)
1 serving of Vega Natural Protein
1/2 cup of wild, frozen blueberries
1 table spoon of fish oil
1 table spoon of bee pollen
2 cups of water
Herb & Pesto Chicken Salad:
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cut fresh parsley
1/2 cup fresh dill
1/4-1/2 cup basil pesto (make fresh if you like)
1 cucumber diced
1 cup raw pistachios, peeled
1 ripe avocado
2 cups baby arugula
1 cup chopped kale
2 cups grilled organic chicken thigh fillets or breasts, sliced or diced
Squeeze juice of lemon
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Any suggestions for people interested in pursuing a mindfulness practice?
Whether you want to deepen your own practice or get certified to lead others or just become more mindful and create practices that can easily become daily habits, there is a recipe for you. Several years ago, after taking a wonderful workshop with Meditation Expert Sally Kempton, I wanted to begin a meditation practice of my own. I started with Deepak and Oprah’s free 21day experiences which jumpstarted my practice. I still sign up every time there is a free one and I’ve bought several for my library. I’ve also studied with Ziva Meditation and used the apps Mindsail mood boost component (fun fact: it’s my voice) and Headspace to enrich my practice. Be it guided mediations, walking through nature, time on your mat, or any type of mindful practice that guides you to quiet your mind and connect deeper to yourself, you are on a spiritual path. Lean into what supports you best in the present.
Any further tips for work life balance?
I think it’s important to continuously check-in with yourself. Ask questions; “how do I feel, are things flowing with life’s currents, what’s not working, am I showing up as the person I envision? These answers can help us gain clarity and be a useful road map in navigating how we spend our time. Often the first thing that slips is one’s self-care when life get’s crazy and hectic and that’s when we need it the most. One thing Oprah says that I love is, “we all have the same amount of time in each day”, so it really is up to us to decide how we spend our time. I have established the non-negotiable habits and practices that help me keep in flow best. When I ask myself those important check-in questions I pause and reflect and put into action what I need to change or accept to be in flow with my highest good.
What’s the greatest challenge or hardship you’ve had to face?
The greatest challenge I’ve had to face has probably been my 35 year old mid life crisis year where I’m sure I would have been clinically diagnosed as depressed had I seen a doctor. Mental illness is an important topic that I pray those suffering can have the strength to talk to someone they trust and get help.
It was a tough year for me. I had ended a very long relationship a few years prior and continued, heartbroken, to struggle in my dating life. I had a wonderful run on General Hospital and had recently been killed off and wasn’t working as much. I had issues at home with a challenging family situation. I was facing health issues with signs of an auto immune disorder developing and I called my mom and dad crying regularly, expressing I was aware of how sad I was and I just wanted the feeling to leave my body. At large I was operating from a place of constant fear. Stuck in the “I’m not good enough rut” for anyone or anything and fixated on all the things I didn’t have and weren’t working in my life. I was a victim of my own vicious cycle of thoughts and negative patterns. Several ingredients were key players in my healing, like a great therapist, seeing a holistic doctor, joining a women’s group and crawling onto my mat regularly with an incredible yoga leader, Andrea Marcum, who became my mentor. This big challenge was also what what led me to get certified and become a yoga instructor.
What about your greatest joys?
My greatest joys have been meeting my husband, Erik Almas, and bringing our baby into this world together. I pinch myself often feeling so blessed for the life we share as a family. I will always be so grateful that we found each other and the stars aligned for us. I know we both did a lot of work on ourselves and had clear visions for what we wanted when we met. I cherish that we both see the importance of self-care, continued growth and unconditional love.