“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” ~John Muir
Being healthy involves more than maintaining a strong and toned physique and extends to focusing on our inner well-being. For many, attaining peace of mind is more elusive than achieving a fit body. True health requires shaping up our whole being—body, mind and spirit. As important to good health as exercising and eating right, finding ways to relax and recharge the mind and spirit is essential to true wellness. Balancing our inner and outer selves is the path to true health and happiness.
Luckily, the local options for finding that perfect balance between inner and outer wellness are endless. From an abundance of natural settings that merge physical and emotional well-being, to an array of choices for working out and focusing on inner wellness, the local landscape leaves no excuse for not shaping up.
The ocean’s majesty is best experienced by jumping in and becoming one with the waves. Engrained in the area culture, surfing is a lifestyle for many who know its benefits go beyond the physical and encompass the mind and spirit. In addition to strengthening the core, back and heart, hanging 10 relieves stress and depression. boosting mood. Popular surf spots dot the coastline—Topanga State Beach, Malibu First Point, Zuma Beach and County Line, to name a few. Starting a surfing adventure with lessons from local experts ensures safety while building skills. The Malibu Makos Surf Club offers year-round lessons for all ages, emphasizing ocean safety and including surfboards and wetsuits. Zuma Jay, near the Malibu Pier, is another local mainstay, offering lessons and equipment for all levels.
Hiking can clear the mind and tone the body too! Numerous studies note the stress-relieving benefits of spending time in nature, making hiking nature’s remedy for today’s chaotic lifestyle. Hiking improves cardiovascular health and decreases risk of stroke. Whatever your fitness level, finding a trail is a walk in the park, with thousands of acres of natural beauty and hundreds of trails for all levels nearby. Solstice Canyon, up Corral Canyon Road in Malibu, features easy to strenuous hikes through coastal sage scrub and native plants. Hike to the waterfall or explore the “Tropical Terrace.” Temescal Gateway Park in Pacific Palisades offers well-marked and maintained trails leading to waterfalls and breathtaking vistas. Find more favorite treks at Will Rogers Park, Los Liones Canyon and Topanga State Park. For group hiking, contact the Temescal Canyon Association at 310.459.5931.
Yoga & Pilates
Yoga is a centuries-old practice and meditation loved by many for its far-reaching mind-body benefits. Practicing yoga increases strength and balance, improves cardiovascular function and creates a flexible, healthy body. Besides the physical perks, yoga increases awareness that extends beyond the yoga mat, impacting diet, self-esteem and well-being, according to Harvard Health Publishing in “Yoga – Benefits Beyond the Mat.” Practiced solo or in a group setting, yoga enhances the mind and body. Enjoy Mindfulness Yoga classes at Malibu Bluffs Park featuring a moving meditation connecting breath, body and mind, followed by a long savasana and guided meditation (MalibuCity.org). Popular yoga studios include 5 Point Yoga in the Malibu Country Mart and Pacific Palisades’ Goorus Yoga.
Pilates balances and aligns the body to achieve better posture, health and overall fitness. Developed in the 1920s by Joseph and Clara Pilates, Pilates uses gravity, breath and spring resistance to target specific muscle groups and “re-educate movement patterns and rebalance the underlying muscular and structural systems in the body,” according to the Pilates Foundation. Incorporating the traditional principles of breath, concentration, centering, control, precision and flow, Pilates strengthens and tones the body while developing a greater awareness and trust in the body’s abilities. Often used to heal specific conditions, such as sports injuries, spinal issues and even Parkinson’s, Pilates delivers myriad mind-body benefits. Local favorite Pilates studios include Pilates Plus Malibu, offering 40-minute full-body workouts and classes for all levels, and Noelle Rox Pilates in Pacific Palisades, with multi-level classes, including injury rehabilitation and pre- and postnatal Pilates, in a beautiful, light-filled studio.
Hit the Gym
Walking through the doors of any fitness facility opens the opportunity to work your body in a variety of exercise modalities, from lifting weights to running on the treadmill and taking group fitness classes. The motivation factor fueled by being in an environment where everyone is focused on fitness can inspire one to new heights. However you choose to move your muscles, the flow of endorphins improves your mood and sense of well-being. Area gyms abound, featuring specialty workout centers specializing in martial arts, kickboxing and dance. Check out Malibu Fitness, a community favorite with an open-air weight room, large studio and outdoor patio, and 40+ weekly classes. The Bay Club Pacific Palisades features stunning ocean views and resort-quality amenities, world-class fitness and small-group training, as well as yoga classes overlooking the ocean.
Making time for self-care and silence results in profound and lasting benefits that reverberate across all areas of our lives. When we’re stressed out and running ourselves ragged, our emotional and mental states reflect it and we eventually compromise our immune system if we don’t take a break. Relieving excessive stress and recharging regularly keep us feeling sane and stable, leading to a more balanced, happier state of mind and improving health and well-being. Whether it’s a week, weekend, day or just a few hours, taking a timeout is essential—and easy—considering the abundance of local options.
Embracing the belief that “health is the ultimate luxury,” The Ranch offers four and seven-day programs focusing on health and wellness in a luxurious natural setting in Malibu. Sequestered in nature away from the daily grind, guests undergo physical, mental and spiritual transformations through intensive workouts, strenuous, breathtaking morning hikes, fitness classes and massage. The Ranch also offers programs at the Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village, where guests receive medical testing at the California Health and Longevity Institute.
Silence, peace and solitude exist minutes from Pacific Coast Highway in Pacific Palisades at the Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine, a lakeside Meditation Garden with shrines and waterfalls, a hilltop Temple, and meditations and retreats to rejuvenate body, mind and soul. Whether an hour or days, spending time at the Lake Shrine offers peace of heart and mind.
“Always go forward, never turn back” is the motto at Serra Retreat, a Malibu retreat center perched atop a 26-acre knoll with breathtaking views and meandering paths dotted with benches for guests to read, meditate and relax. “Move forward spiritually” in this beautiful setting lending to peace, serenity and reflection. Stroll the grounds for a quick midweek respite or schedule a personal retreat.
Those wanting to venture out of town may find their Shangri-La at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, a world-class resort offering spa services, personal journeys and mind/body programs to soothe the soul and refresh the spirit. Further down the road in Avila Beach, relax and soak in Sycamore Mineral Springs’ outdoor natural hot springs while enjoying majestic views.
Enjoy the journey to true health and wellness—your body (and mind) will thank you!