The first time we met was at her beautiful Eixample studio for one of her 'Soul Sunday' workshops. Post session, I felt rejuvenated from a stimulating yoga practice and having being supported with some life coaching, more focussed on my goals ahead.
In a later session 'An Introduction to Mindfulness' at Soho House Leslie described her own personal journey to get to where she is now (read on for more below). We were also shown some coaching tools to help deal with life's stresses and led through a relaxing meditation session.
Finally, Leslie is an Ambassador for SereneBook and I attended their first international Meet Up hosted by Leslie with Co-founder Tegan Bukowski. There I was introduced me to Reiki and was surprised at the strength of emotions it produced. There is no doubt in my mind that Leslie is a wonderful teacher with a fantastic energy who clearly has a gift for helping others.
I am delighted that she has agreed to take part in my 'Wellness Words' blog series. Read on below to find out more about her background, her inspirations and ideas and insights into how we can all lead a more mindful life.
Leslie has a particular passion for guiding Mums to find a more balanced way of living so that they can live life as joyfully as possible and really make the most out of motherhood. I am really looking forward to hosting a #MindfulMumsChat on my @BeMindfulBCN Twitter account this Wednesday 1st March 8-9pm GMT (9-10pm CET) and having @LeslieSaglio as my special guest.
We'll be chatting about what exactly 'Mindfulness' means, the challenges we all face in our hectic day-to-day lives which stop us being mindful and also giving advice and tips to help Mums find the balance they often crave.
Join us? We'd love to see you there x
1. Hello Leslie. Firstly could you introduce yourself and tell me a little bit about yourself…
I’m originally from Los Angeles, California – born and raised. I graduated from Business School at the University of Southern California, followed by a marketing career for two of the major entertainment studios, and then as an entrepreneur, co-founding a successful real estate company. I’ve always been fascinated by other cultures and spent a lot of my youth travelling throughout the U.S. and Asia. In 2006 I moved to London to join my French fiancé (now husband) and have two young children. After ten beautiful years in London, we now call Barcelona our home.
2. You’re a Wellness & Life Coach, Yoga Teacher, Author, Speaker, ambassador for Wellicious… the list goes on! What was your journey to get to where you are now?
It wasn’t always about Om-ing, buying organic and being a vegetarian. Twelve years ago, in Los Angeles B.C. (Before Children), on the outside I definitely looked as if I had it all – and in many ways I did. I had the financial freedom as an entrepreneur, owned a condo by the beach, drove a European convertible and was mother to two adorable Yorkshire puppies.
But the truth was I was stressed, burnout and was unable to switch off and sleep. Everyday I self-medicated with coffee, cigarettes, alcohol, and sleeping pills. And I wasn’t alone. If we look at statistics of the wealthiest societies in the world, from London to New York, they too are medicating themselves for depression, anxiety, and sleep disorder.
Fast forward I managed to break from this cycle when I became a mother in Europe, but my life changed more dramatically in 2010 when my best friend and parents became seriously ill while I was pregnant with my second child. It was then I started my holistic and spiritual journey towards a healthier and meaningful life.
Since then, for the past eight years, I’ve studied and worked alongside some of the top healers, teachers and coaches in the world. From my own commitment to personal growth and working with clients I’ve learned that the only way to a happy and purposeful life is to live with the awareness that true fulfillment has to come from within.
Now it’s my passion to help others, especially mums, also find peace and infuse balance to live a more joyful life. I’ve been there. I get it. Life may be a juggle but it doesn’t have to be a struggle. And it’s totally possible to thrive not just survive as a mum.
3. What does a typical day for you involve for you and what interests and inspires you in your work?
It’s important I start my day before my children wake to do my morning rituals such as meditation. A daily practice before anything else is the most supportive for my entire day. After dropping my kids at school you can catch me either doing yoga or teaching yoga at my home studio in Eixample. Depending on the day I’m coaching clients, writing my weekly blog, curating content for my special events, reading, or having Spanish language classes.
For inspiration I love to read other wellness and spiritual/philosophical books and blogs. I also love to go to a yoga class; as a student and teacher I find this the most inspiring. Working from home it can get lonely so it’s important to get out and physically connect with people and in nature.
4. What does being mindful actually mean to you and how do you incorporate mindfulness into your day-to-day life?
Mindfulness to me means purposefully being engaged and being deeply connected. It’s about being aware of the flow of moment-to-moment experience as it’s happening. It’s about choosing to be awake in each moment of being alive with an open curiosity. It’s essentially about being more attuned to what’s going on around you and inside of you.
The quickest way I incorporate mindfulness into my day is to remember to breathe by taking deep conscious breaths. This has the power to instantly bring us into the present moment and instantly calm the nervous system.
5. What would be your top piece of advice to someone who feel a bit lost or overwhelmed in life and want to make changes but doesn’t know where to start?
At the end of the day we really don’t have control over what happens outside of us and how other people behave. But what we do have control over is how we behave, how we react and the meaning we give to our experiences.
My encouragement to someone who feels overwhelmed, stressed or anxious is to try this simple acronym, these four ways, to help become more present:
Take a deep breath
Observe what’s happening before you
Allow yourself to S-T-O-P, to shift, to go outside, to look at the sky, to be in nature and to connect back to yourself.
When you start living in the present moment you can become a participant not a spectator in your life. From this awareness, rather than getting lost in worry and pain, you can access your inherent capacity of balance and calm. This will help to react to all situations, stressful and challenging, more positively and effectively with grace and ease.
I invite you to try it for one week and see if you feel any difference in your experience of life.
6. I know you have a special interest in working with women and as a mother to two children yourself, how do you feel Mindfulness (in all its forms) benefits Mums. How can they be more mindful?
As mums, it can be easy to go on autopilot and stress throughout the day. We can get so busy “doing” everything on our to-do list without ever really being present and without enjoying motherhood and life in general.
It’s important to take time to ground and centre to become more present. In being present with ourselves we can be more present with our loved ones. Minimise or remove completely certain distractions to create space for mindful practices such as meditation, deep conscious breathing, etcetera. Even if only for five minutes, those five precious minutes of conscious mindfulness has the power to create waves of conscious mindfulness for the rest of your day.
So often our days can be spent consuming content and communing with others from afar. I encourage mums to concentrate more on your family and friends near you by being fully present, in-person and full contact. Try not checking emails, messages or social media when you’re with your children or friends. I acknowledge this may be difficult for some, so first try baby steps. For example, while you’re having a meal or doing a 30-minute activity together put your phone on silent or airplane mode.
7. Who are your greatest inspirations in terms of mindfulness, healing and yoga? Books, websites, bloggers?
There’s so many! But if I had to name a few I’d say Max Strom has been a very inspirational teacher whom I had the honour to practice and train with in London. His book “A Life Worth Breathing” is a must read in addition to Don Miguel Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements” and the Dalai Lama’s “The Art of Happiness”.
8. Finally do you think Barcelona is a mindful place to live and if yes why?
Yes Barcelona is a beautiful and mindful place to live! The pace of life is much slower than other metropolitan cities. People take their time when eating a meal, actually sitting down and having conversation. The incredible sunny climate allows people to enjoy life outside or at the beach. And my all-time favourite is what I call “Switch off Sundays”. Sundays are considered sacred with shops closed, and a time you can completely switch off from having to consume and simply devote the day to cultural or familial activities.