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Mindful : February 2017
With cloud-white walls, pale wood floors, and violet light emanating from the studio, the aesthetic at Unplug Meditation is a far cry from your aver- age recreation center. “I wanted it to feel like heaven,” says owner Suze Yalof Schwartz. “I wanted people to walk in and immediately feel comfortable.” It’s exactly what she had been hunting for when she first discov- ered the power of meditation. As a fashion editor at Glamour and Vo g u e , Yalof Schwartz had been living the so-called “dream.” Anointed “the fairy godmother of makeovers” by The New York Times, she was doing regular segments on Good Morning America and the Today Show, and rubbing elbows with the likes of Tyra Banks and Oprah. But life was getting increasingly hectic. When her mother- in-law led her through a three-minute breathing and visualization exercise, it was a revelation. She started to look for places to learn how to meditate, but the only choices she found were pricey training programs or retreats. “I thought, ‘ Where is the Drybar for meditation? Where you can walk in feeling icky and walk out feeling great, and do it quickly?’” she recalls. “As a mother of three, I didn’t have a lot of time or money to spend on it.” So she took a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course, a Vedic meditation program, and any and every other meditation class she could find. After each session she thought about how she wanted to adapt these techniques to suit her vision. “In a five-minute TV segment, you need to edit and simplify so that people know what they’re learning, they are able to practice it and can walk away with a takeaway,” she says. “I wanted my meditation classes to actually be like those TV segments: colorful, short, and succinct.” That’s exactly what Unplug offers. Most sessions are kept to 30 to 45 minutes, so you can drop by before work, during your lunch hour, or before you go out at night. (Students meditate in everything from yoga gear to suits.) There are more traditional sessions that focus on the breath as well as ones that use sound baths and tapping, among other techniques. “There are so many different things out there that I love, so for me Unplug is kind of like the ‘best of’ album, edited,” Yalof Schwartz says. “I wanted people to be able to explore all the different ways they can meditate.” Some people feel this à la carte approach may trivialize the simple power of meditation practice. Some people are worried the practice is being over-simplified. “One woman asked me, ‘Aren’t you afraid you’re going to turn it in McMindfulness?’ I said ‘No—I want everyone to be able to get something out of it,’” Yalof Schwartz says. “I want to share what I learned in three minutes with every person that I meet for the rest of my life.” Offerings at Unplug Schedule: 50 classes per week + monthly workshops Pricing: $24 per class; $95 for 5-class package; $150 for unlim- ited monthly membership The Details: In addition to its slew of studio classes, Unplug offers students near and far a robust menu of online classes, including a class for kids and teens and a 10-minute gratitude practice, among other offerings. Unplug Meditation Santa Monica, CA unplugmeditation.com PHOTOGRAPHSBYLEVERRUKHIN Suze Yalof Schwartz, founder of Unplug 66 mindful February 2017 trends