When Suze Yalof Schwartz claimed that she was hell bent on creating the “Soulcycle of Meditation,” she may have ruffled a guru feather or two; she may have had a “meditation don’t” on her hands if she stripped the tradition from the practice. Yet two years of successfully running Unplug Meditation, Schwartz, dubbed the “fairy godmother of makeovers,” by The New York Times, has proven she can not only declutter your closet but also your mind.
The meditation cushion may be a far cry from the runway where Suze worked for decades as a fashion editor, director and stylist; but instructing people how to look good on the outside, whether on the “Today Show,” “Good Morning America” or “Oprah” isn’t that different than instructing them how to feel good on the inside through deep breathing and meditation.
Ironically, her first encounter with meditation was on a stressful trip with her mother-in-law, who taught her a three-minute exercise involving breathing and guided imagery that she says completely transformed her.
After moving to Los Angeles with her husband and three boys in 2012, she struggled to find a place to meditate that wasn’t a sage burning, om chanting, chakra colored turn-off. She wanted to create a studio where people could learn how to meditate easily with amazing teachers. So after downloading every meditation podcast and taking dozens of mediation classes, she threw her mantra to the wind and opened her own highly stylized space with a minimalistic teaching approach.
What’s the Unplug Meditation Manifesto that even an old school teacher can get behind?
- Everyone needs to unplug to recharge.
- Slowing down can happen quickly.
- Working in is just as important as working out.
- Over-meditating beats medicating.
- Meditation is easy to learn – especially when it’s guided.
- Once can change your day, and more can change your life.
She immediately brought in established teachers from the mediation world, such as Maha Yoga’s Steve Ross, Davidji, Malika Chopra and Donna D’Cruz. She believes that, “the difference between Unplug and other studios is that Unplug is an experience and not just the class. The lighting the music the smell are all designed to take you into that theta state even before the teacher opens their mouth.”
Suze said that she wanted people to feel like “they were checking into heaven,” and designed the space to convey that feeling. “I think the most important element is that it is a white on white space that feels spotless. We also have blank canvases that represent that gap of pure awareness between focus and thought,” says Schwartz.
To busy people who say they have no time to meditate, she says, “you’ll never find time to meditate, you have to make the time to meditate. We can always find time when it’s something we want to do, but when you commit to the practice you’ll see the incredible benefits and then you’ll actually start to crave it. The trick is having faith in the process, sticking with it, and putting it on your schedule.”
Schwartz’s daily mediation practice consists of a morning meditation before she gets up and then at least one class a day at Unplug because she loves the variety, and all of the amazing teachers keep her going back for more.
But she doesn’t need to be alone at an altar to get her mediation on. She says, “I love meditating in my car because I can lock the doors and get quiet, but meditating in a group class is my absolute favorite because I thrive off the group energy.”
When asked about her favorite meditation mantra she jokes, “I have more mantras than I do shoes at this point and I used to be a fashion editor. My favorite English mantra is let go and my favorite Sanskrit mantra is ah hum.”
Since meditation helps relieve stress, and stress is not only an exhaustion issue, but a beauty one as well, the former fashion editor believes that meditation helps keep the Botox at bay. “When you’re stressed, you’re creating frown lines on your forehead and around your mouth. Stress really does age you. When you’re calm, you’re relaxing those facial muscles and giving yourself a nice beautiful glow. Plus, nothing is prettier than a smile, Schwartz says, and the number one beauty benefit is happiness!”
Celebs from Donna Karan and Christy Turlington have been meditating for years, but lately it seems that everyone from Gisele Bündchen to fellow supermodel Karlie Kloss have jumped on the “peace train.” Suze quickly points out that “meditation has been happening since 500 BC, and the fact that people are now wanting to do it is amazing! I think people are understanding that it’s a lot easier than they thought it was, and it doesn’t mean that you have to join a cult or jump around the street singing Hare Krishna.”
If forced to choose between helping people look good, or teaching mediation and helping people feel good, she can’t. “I love them both. How many people can actually say that they had two careers that felt like recreation? Neither felt like a job and I was obsessed with both of them. The only thing is that Fashion ran its course, but I’m praying that meditation never does, because it’s so good for me,” she says.