When did Beverly Hills get so vir­tu­ous?

ELLE (Canada) - - Insider - By Olivia Stren

flag­ship shop and stu­dio in Beverly Hills, an “om” breath away from Rodeo Drive, while Christie Brink­ley rhap­sodizes about her af­fec­tion for ar­ti­chokes. The iconic 63-year-old model, who is wear­ing a white suit as bright as a klieg light, re­calls dis­cov­er­ing the Euro­pean vege­table when she was a child: “I got an ar­ti­choke plate as a gift,” she says. “There was a sep­a­rate sec­tion for the heart and one for the leaves and one for the dip. I love Ve­ge­naise!” The au­di­ence of 100 peo­ple, most in gi­ant sun­glasses, sit rapt, ex­cept for lo­cal yoga in­struc­tor and so­cial-me­dia star Ca­ley Alyssa. She is busy feed­ing her dog—a blond (nat­u­rally) cock­apoo—fer­mented co­conut cashew yo­gourt topped with goji berries and bee-free honey. h

In the in­ter­est of self-im­prove­ment, I’ve trav­elled to Beverly Hills, which has newly knighted it­self the “City of Wellth”—the cap­i­tal of well­ness and health. Al­though I, too, love a good ar­ti­choke, I’ll ad­mit that I’m feel­ing a bit out of my el­e­ment—a rogue bagel among cashew-yo­gourt bowls. There’s noth­ing that makes me more anx­ious than an ag­gres­sively serene yogi pon­tif­i­cat­ing on the de­tails of “the prac­tice.” That said, like most peo­ple, I strive for well-be­ing and could cer­tainly use a psy­chic tune-up. (Bal­ance—of the work-life or cheque­book va­ri­ety— is not cur­rently a per­sonal forte.) So here I am, ready to eat chopped sal­ads and kick up my qi. “‘Wellth’ is the new cur­rency,” says Ja­son Wa­chob, founder and CEO of the life­style brand MindBodyGreen and au­thor of the best­selling mem­oir Wellth: How I Learned to Build a Life, Not a Ré­sumé, who has flown in from New York to help launch this cam­paign along with Brink­ley and Alyssa. A for­mer eq­ui­ties trader who swapped his brief­case for a yoga mat, Wa­chob has the re­laxed air of a deal closer in perma hol­i­day mode. “Wellth is about liv­ing a life that is com­plete and ful­fill­ing and based on health and hap­pi­ness,” he adds. “Feel­ing good is the new look­ing good.”

Fel­low wellth guru James Duigan fits this bill. Duigan, who has mati­nee-idol good looks, is the founder of Body­ism, the world-renowned be­spoke per­sonal train­ing and nu­tri­tional-sup­ple­ment sys­tem that counts Elle Macpher­son and Rosie Hunt­ing­ton-White­ley as devo­tees. “Well­ness is the new lux­ury, and green juice is the new Rolex,” says Duigan as the group at Alo Yoga sagely nods and takes sips of cold-pressed gin­ger-spir­ulina and al­falfa-grass green juice. What fol­lows is a sin­cere dis­cus­sion about vor­texes, vi­bra­tions and vi­sion boards, jour­neys, bless­ings and grat­i­tude. The lat­ter, says Duigan, has been key to his spir­i­tual jour­ney. “The sim­ple act of say­ing ‘Thank you’ cre­ates some­thing in the uni­verse and lu­bri­cates your jour­ney.”

It does seem, well, rich for Beverly Hills, the long­time cap­i­tal of ma­te­rial ex­cess, to be pro­mot­ing it­self as a mecca for mind­ful­ness. Let’s not kid our­selves: Smoothie bowls, vi­ta­min sup­ple­ments and yoga pants are big busi­ness. (Just ask Gwyneth Pal­trow, who in June hosted her first well­ness sum­mit, “In Goop Health,” in nearby Cul­ver City. Tick­ets for the one-day event cost up to $1,500.) And the Hills and L.A. in gen­eral have long been at the cen­tre of the trendy quest for cen­tred­ness. A scene in An­nie Hall comes to mind: An­nie and Alvy at­tend Paul Si­mon’s house party in L.A., where ev­ery­one is wear­ing the hell out of white pants and a young Jeff Gold­blum is talk­ing fran­ti­cally to his guru on the phone be­cause he has for­got­ten his mantra.

Armed with my new knowl­edge about wellth (and be­cause I could cer­tainly use a new mantra), I

head to Beverly Hills City Hall, where Deepak Cho­pra, the Brad Pitt of the well­ness world, is lead­ing an al­fresco med­i­ta­tion ses­sion. It’s the kind of per­fect day that only L.A. can man­u­fac­ture: Pur­ple­flow­er­ing jacaranda and palms leg­gier than Kendall Jen­ner stretch against cerulean skies. About 1,000 peo­ple—some in av­o­cado-printed yoga pants— many small dogs and a few Beverly Hills cops are here to deep-breathe with Cho­pra, the palms of their hands open up­ward.

Post-ses­sion, Cho­pra ex­horts us all to take “wellth­ies”—pix of how great we feel. I do feel both mel­lowed and vi­tal­ized, but it’s hard not to feel good on an ex­trav­a­gantly per­fect day in SoCal, thou­sands of miles away from home and its at­ten­dant re­al­i­ties.

Later, as I walk through the per­fectly man­i­cured streets, I re­call some­thing Alyssa said the other day: “This city is so clean. Peo­ple here are liv­ing in an el­e­vated space. They’re at­tracted to this place for a rea­son, and I think it’s be­cause they’re vi­brat­ing on a higher level.” For this quote, for the sun­shine and for my jour­ney here, I am grate­ful. I’m tempted to post a #wellthie but opt for some chakra-align­ing win­dow-shop­ping along Rodeo Drive in­stead.

Beverly Hills City Hall; a class at Alo Yoga (right)

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