Updated: Mar 19
By Elizabeth Gracen:
Flapper Press has expanded to include a Mind/Body category to help our readers live their best lives as stress free as possible. We realize this mission is a daunting task, because the big, bad world out there seems to be serving up nothing but stress these days. All I can say is that we are going to do our best to make you feel better!
Our first writer for Mind/Body is Lauren Maher—a multi-talented, multi-faceted woman with a similar mission. Lauren is a master yoga teacher and yoga therapist with a Masters in Clinical Psychology. I first met Lauren many years ago in a Kundalini-inspired yoga class, and we reconnected years later on a movie set for the sci-fi film COHERENCE. I can honestly say that Lauren is one of the calmest, funniest, most even-headed people I've ever met, and I am more than thrilled to have her on the Flapper Press team; and I think you'll be inspired by her words of wisdom regarding the mind/body/spirit connection.
Please meet Lauren Maher!
EG: Lauren, we keep linking up in this life. First, it was yoga and then it turned out that we had mutual friends . . . and then one day we were surprised to find out that we were cast in the same film—COHERENCE. It seems we can’t shake each other, because now I’m very excited to introduce you as our newest writer for the Flapper Press team. Welcome!
Would you tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
LM: Thank you so much! I’m excited to join the team. A little bit about me: I’m a long-time yoga teacher and certified yoga therapist, and I’ve always been intrigued by all things related to the human mind and spirit. About 6 years ago, I went back to school to pursue my Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, and I now practice therapy with individuals and couples. Travel, music, art, and animals are my great loves (along with my husband, hah!).
EG: The first time I saw you was in yoga class, and you’ve practiced yoga for quite a long time. Tell me a little about how you came to the practice and what it means to you? Do you have any other regular practices?
LM: When I studied theater in college, our voice and speech teacher had us practicing breathing techniques and various movements that were completely foreign to me. At the time, I thought it was kind of strange, but I did notice that I felt different afterward, just more alive somehow. Finally, I got hip to the fact that a lot of what we were doing was taken from yoga, so I tried to teach myself yoga out of a book for a while. However, it wasn’t until I moved to L.A. twenty years ago that I started practicing Kundalini Yoga and meditation with my mentor, Veronica Brown. Once I started practicing in earnest, I was hooked. Yoga changed me on every level: mentally, physically, and emotionally. I’ve now been teaching for 19 years, and yoga has consistently been my saving grace, the thing that grounds me and keeps me sane in the midst of whatever chaos may be happening around me. Yoga is so much more than just the physical practice—in fact, the physical practice is only a tiny part of yoga. Yoga is essentially a positive psychology system; it taught me how to focus and direct my mind in a powerful way.
EG: From your website, I see that you have a real “bucket list” retreat in Italy! It looks like an amazing experience. Please tell our readers more about it.
LM: Oh, I love to talk about Italy! My husband and I have a travel company, Volare Retreats, that offers retreats in beautiful locations around the world. We are both avid travelers, and we felt inspired to help people find a way to travel without all the stress of planning a trip. Our Italy retreat includes trips to beautiful medieval towns, wine tastings, and cooking classes, meals at amazing local restaurants, and morning yoga and meditation classes. The retreat location is in a converted medieval castle that overlooks the Umbrian countryside, and it’s simply stunning.
EG: How important is physical exercise for mental health? There are many people who are unable to exercise in the traditional way due to physical limitations. How can these people find a way to move and experience the mental benefits that exercise provides?
LM: I think exercise is vital for mental health. Even if someone has physical limitations, there are many practices such as yoga that can be adapted for someone in a chair or perhaps even lying in bed. Even if movement is difficult, there are many wonderful benefits from cultivating a mindful breathing practice. Long, deep breathing activates our parasympathetic nervous system, which helps our bodies relax and heal.
EG: I’ve had the benefit of going to a few therapists in my life, and the really good ones were able to help me unlock the connection between my mind and my heart. I believe that mental health and spiritual health are entwined. What are your thoughts about this?
LM: My own personal experience has been similar to yours. However, as a therapist, I try to take my lead from my clients. Some clients want to take a deep dive into spiritual or existential waters, while others may be seeking very practical tools to help their day-to-day lives become a little more manageable. It’s my hope to meet my clients where they are and see how it unfolds from there.
EG: In the coming weeks you’ll be sharing your insights about the mind/body connection, self-care, and how to mentally prepare ourselves for the coming decade—in particular, the coming election year. Do you think it is important for people to have a basic set of mental and emotional tools at the ready? Is it possible to arm yourself in a way that creates an armor of “resilience”?
LM: Yes! I feel passionately about this. Life is stressful these days—we need to have “go-to” practices to turn toward. Over the upcoming year, I look forward to writing about ways that we can practice self care but in a very real, grounded way. Self care is a lot more than bubble baths and spa days; it’s also about digging in and cultivating practices in our daily lives that bring us a greater sense of resilience. This could be anything from learning breathing and mindfulness practices to setting better boundaries to learning how to reframe negative thought patterns. I want to serve the Flapper Press community by offering up different tools that I’ve learned over the years from yoga and psychology.
Read Lauren Maher's first post for Flapper Press— Stressed Out? Connect With Your Breath