As the leaves fall, the weather cools and it seems to get dark in the middle of the day, we adjust all our routines. While there is an urge to accept sweats as appropriate business attire, Lean Cuisine and Haagen Dazs as a balanced meal, and “Below Deck” as intellectual fodder, there is still a chance to embrace your best self and health this winter.
Hamptons fitness favorite Erica Velasquez of EVOLVEAST helps people ease into the new season without having to ease into elastic waist pants. “In winter you can be in harmony with the body. I call it the cozy season or hygge as the Danish say, a sense of comfort, simplicity, and community. It’s a great time for candlelight, meditation, breath work, and also journaling.”
While Velasquez is famous for her Yoga in the Vines series at Wölffer Estate Vineyards, she has moved inside to offer gentle yoga classes at the Montauk Salt Cave. Pink Himalayan salt covers the floors, walls, and ceilings of this special Zen den. Salt Therapy is used as an alternative treatment for respiratory issues, allergies, anxiety, inflammation, and even skin issues. The salt is naturally anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral. It is also just a pretty pink respite from the world.
But don’t get too cozy or relaxed. Elevating mood is also important in the dark days and keeping around bright colors and thoughts. “You may need to turn up the music and dance or put a little Eucalyptus oil in your shower,” said Velasquez. She is a fan of keeping an open mind in an open world.
Even if you are not an expert at Pilates you can experience one of her reformer Pilates classes at New York Pilates in East Hampton, Bridgehampton, or Montauk. And a special helpful hint for Hamptons classes — look out for Black Friday specials, winter discounts or packages at your favorite studios. Gift certificates are a great stocking stuffer as well.
“Even though it’s cold out, get out into nature,” is another suggestion from Velasquez. “Give your brain a different landscape.” One of her favorite hikes is Two Holes of Water or even spending time at the East Hampton Duck Pond. Mashomack Preserve in Shelter Island offers varying vistas over its 2350 acres and is a beautiful excuse to leave holiday stress (and perhaps annoying relatives) behind.
Velasquez’s popularity is based not only on her class instruction but her positive energy. “I want to be in service for people,” she commented. “It makes me really happy when people from my classes become friends.”
Velasquez was born in Southampton and grew up in Amagansett where her favorite subject in school was gym. She turned to yoga in college and fell in love. Her yoga studies included with Lois Nesbitt, Kama Deva, Yoga Shanti and time in an ashram at Sivananda. “It’s about sharing inspiration and motivation and good karma.”
Yet she also acknowledges people’s challenges and doesn’t shy away. “You can take class and allow it to be a message. Yes, you are comfortable and peaceful and safe, but if you feel frustrated or irritated or disconnected you can learn from them too. Give yourself permission to feel. Too many people try to laugh it away or drink it away. It’s important to just feel it and give the body grace.”
And in terms of sharing her grace, Velasquez said with a smile, “I want to be the first domino to fall and start the chain.”