Hilaria Baldwin opened Yoga Vida in the West Village when she was fresh out of NYU and wheelchair-bound with a broken hip. She dropped flyers at health-conscious places around the New School and taught 36 classes a week until her hustle paid off. Twelve years later, she’s an established instructor known for her inclusive teaching style and a soon-to-be mother of three with a book on wellness due out in January 2017.
Lately, you’ve probably seen her in the tabloids clutching a Starbucks cup (she avoids coffee, but a soy decaf latte is her guilty pleasure), or on Instagram’s “explore” page in a photo taken by her husband, Alec Baldwin. The Cut caught up with her following an event for Aloe Gloe water to talk about her vegan diet, living with asthma, and dragging her husband to barre.
How I start my mornings: I make pancakes for my daughter Carmen, which have chia seeds, bananas, vanilla, cinnamon, and whole grains. You can put quinoa in them. Or we eat cereal, with hemp milk and granola. Barbara’s! We get Puffins, but also the ones that look like Chex.
It’s one thing to be an adult and say,”Okay, I’m not going to eat dairy.” It’s another thing to say, “How can I be a responsible parent, if I believe putting these hormones in their body is wrong?” Hemp milk is the richest. It’s fortified, it doesn’t have a lot of junk in it, which a lot of these other milks do, and we like the taste, too. It’s better than some of the other ones that are kind of like water.
I drink a lot more coconut water when I’m breastfeeding. I’m actually not a fan of the taste of coconut water, but I drink it religiously, and I’ve come around to it. In the morning I’ll drink a huge can, and at night I’ll drink a huge can.
How I sweat: I run a lot. I love it. It’s my time alone. I just do 30 minutes. I’ll go over to the West Side highway, four miles. I used to have a really hard time running and I learned not to breathe in through my mouth, which is what we do in yoga. The nostrils are meant for cleansing, there’s a whole filtration system. The mouth has no filtration system. The more we breathe in through our mouth, the more we breathe in all the lovely things that are in the New York air. It’s very drying for the lungs. You have to really work on your lung capacity. It’s hard.
I started dancing when I was 2 and I’ve been moving ever since. Alec and I don’t work out together as much as we should. I’m like, Do you want to go take Physique 57 with me? I brought him once. I hated barre the first three times, but now I’m obsessed. I was like, “This is where all the ladies are! This is where everyone’s in spandex! Let’s go, honey!” It’s not a male-friendly workout necessarily. It was very sweet that he came with me. We’ve tried acroyoga; we’ve tried everything.
On prenatal yoga: I did a DVD. I did yoga in both of my labors. It’s painful, but it helps you, you’re supposed to stay active and move around. A lot of squatting. I didn’t take any childbirth classes.
On baby weight: I didn’t have C-sections, so that helped me. If you have a natural birth, it’s a very different recovery. My husband would call me “shrinky dink” — you just deflate. I took a picture a day or two after I gave birth to Raffa in the bathroom, you can google it. Every day it gets smaller and smaller, and if you breastfeed, it goes away faster. Your body is supposed to do this. As long as you treat it right, as long as you feed it enough, don’t feed it too much, exercise not too much, if you find that balance, you’re golden.
What wellness means to me: Learning to listen to your body. I don’t eat dairy, my children don’t eat dairy. I don’t eat red meat, I don’t eat chicken, and I believe that’s healthy. But being well is being thoughtful, realizing that you and I are exactly the same.
I became a vegetarian when I was 5. I gave up dairy when I was 20, because I was a dancer and having a lot of injuries. I had asthma. I was told by a bunch of people to just try to get dairy out of my body for two weeks. I felt so much better and never went back. All of a sudden my joints felt better.
I had cravings for a while. I really missed yogurt, lemon yogurt — Stonyfield, not anything extra-healthy. Do I still have asthma? Absolutely, you always have asthma. But I haven’t owned an inhaler for 12 years, since I gave up dairy, because it’s so phlegm-producing that it ends up being a problem.
How wellness has changed for me: In the past when I was young and a dancer, I was so afraid of carbs. I was so afraid of high fats. I’m at a point now where I’m quite happy with my body. I’m happy with my energy level. You think about nurturing yourself, rather than depriving yourself. Before, it would be like, I have to eat because if I don’t eat I won’t survive, but I’m going to try to eat in a way that’s going to maintain my body to be really tiny and make sure I look this certain way. It was not a healthy approach. Now I’m much more interested in what my body can do, and how I feel. Am I energized? What kind of example am I setting for my children?
I’m happier. If we do not feel good, we are not happy. Even during my early days of teaching yoga when I was still struggling with how to eat, how to be happy, and who I’m in love with, and all these things you struggle with in your early 20s, I was very good at smiling. People would go in and be like, Oh my god, she’s so happy all the time. And I’d go home and be like, Really, am I? Am I? Now, what you see is what you get.
On meditation: It can be boring, that’s the problem. I don’t believe in telling people to clear their minds. Think of nothing, go to your happy place. I like to talk. Your mind is chatty, your body is pleasure-seeking. The trick with meditation is getting the mind to think about something that’s healthy. Put the mind on the right track rather than emptying the mind, which is essentially impossible in my opinion, because the mind was not intended to be empty, it was intended to be full.
How I eat when I’m alone: Bark Thins. But I would eat that in front of you. I have no shame.
My biggest wellness struggle is: Sleep. I don’t have the whole sleep thing figured out. I sleep less than most people because I have a little guy attached to my boob all night. It’s not as exciting as that sounds. I’ve read a million different sleep strategies and none of them are working. I don’t have the ability to hear my kids cry it out, and listen to them scream. I’ve had friends go, Get a bottle of wine, sit in the other room, and just drink as you hear them scream. I can’t do that. I’ve slept in my daughter’s crib with her, many, many times. I would love to nap. My family lives in the land of siesta; I love the siesta.
This interview has been condensed and edited.