Julie Wald guides today’s busiest people down their wellness paths.
Of course, true well-being has many facets: She began her career as a social worker, earning her master’s degree from NYU and treating adults, children and adolescents in inpatient and outpatient mental health settings.
As she built her practice, she also pursued more alternative wellness interests, becoming a certified yoga instructor (via Ashaya Yoga), meditation teacher, Thai bodyworker and reiki master. She began moonlighting as a yoga and meditation instructor in the homes of prominent New Yorkers.
Then, in the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks, she noticed a profound attitude shift: People seemed more preoccupied with making personal connections and establishing meaningful practices to nourish their minds, bodies and sprits. Unfortunately, busy individuals had trouble integrating wellness into their demanding schedules. So, Wald created Namaste New York, a wellness concierge service that consults on, curates and delivers personalized in-home well-being experiences and plans.
In the meantime, she continues to give back as a member of the Children’s Advisory Council at New York Presbyterian Hospital and as a teacher of complimentary yoga and mindfulness sessions for organizations including The East Harlem School and City Parks Foundation.
Here, this mother-of-three talks about the toll of digital overload and the importance of a self-care toolkit:
Live The Process: To what do you attribute your sense of responsibility and commitment to service?
Julie Wald: My sense of responsibility and commitment to service is rooted in my upbringing and deepened by life experiences throughout my childhood and young adulthood. My parents have “salt of the earth” values, prioritizing relationships and human beings over material success and “things.” This foundation enabled me to learn from challenging experiences including the untimely death of a best friend when I was a child, volunteering in soup kitchens and, ultimately, studying clinical social work in college and graduate school. My professional work included serving some of the most disenfranchised and mentally ill people in New York City.
LTP: How does your social work background inform your work with Namaste New York?
JW: As a clinical social worker, I learned that the success of my work with clients hinged on trust. The key to fostering growth is building trusting relationships by demonstrating an unwavering commitment and a non-judgmental, compassionate perspective. The same is true for any transformational relationship, including the relationship between a teacher or coach and a student.
LTP: You started this concept in the wake of 9-11, as you observed a shift in consciousness. People were searching for a renewed sense of meaning in their lives. How did (and does) Namaste endeavor to meet those needs?
JW: In the wake of 9-11, people experienced a huge wakeup call about the fleeting nature of existence. Driven by the realization that the quality of our days and relationships are what matter most, many successful people began to want to cultivate well-being and stay grounded. This is where Namaste came in: From the beginning, we provided guidance and support to our clients, helping them understand which practices would be best for them and delivering those sessions (with extraordinary teachers and practitioners) right to their door. Busy with demanding careers and families, our clients needed a trusted partner to ease them into wellness.
Today, people are searching for the same things, but for somewhat different reasons. I have watched how the Digital Age has contributed to the proliferation of massive stress and mental health issues, which often manifest in the body. People come to Namaste searching for self-care guidance, support and in-home sessions that will enable them to take care of themselves in the best way.
LTP: What is the most common complaint or concern you hear from clients and how do you address it?
JW: The most common complaint is stress combined with pain—often in the neck or back. It’s not just any stress; it’s a kind of suffering that comes from overworking and digital addiction, despite material success. We address this, and most other issues, by filtering our clients’ daily habits through Namaste’s “Four Pillars of Wellness:” Movement, Stillness, Touch and Nourishment.
We make recommendations based on which pillars and practices they need most. For someone managing stress and pain, it would likely be a combination of wellness coaching, yoga, meditation and massage therapy, delivered to their home, on their schedule. We also offer advice on lifestyle habits related to screen time, sleep and more.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
JW: Lying in the grass with my children and husband, playing around with acroyoga and foot massage, with a yummy grain-free, sugar-free and dairy-free meal coming my way. Think giant salad with avocado, nuts, seeds and a yummy dressing from Primal Kitchen.
LTP: What does it mean to you to “Live The Process” and how can we all do that more each day?
JW: To me, “Live The Process” means to build the inner and outer strength and openness to ride the waves of my life experience. Suffering and joy are both part of life. Setting expectations accordingly, and creating a self-care toolkit that supports me in navigating the journey, is so vital to my process.
Get your Fix: Read all about the Julie Wald’s latest go-to products, practices and rituals here.