Meet Sonia Jones.
Sonia is a former model, mother of four, and wife to financial billionaire Paul Tudor Jones. But Sonia is much, much more.
She is a wellness advocate, impact philanthropist, and practicing Ashtanga yogi. Vanity Fair called her, “a walking advertisement for the physical benefits of Ashtanga [yoga].” Yoga has been transformative for Sonia and Sonia has decided to share her passion for achieving meaningful transformation and change with others.
In November 2014 Sonia and her partner Salima Ruffin launched Sonima.com. Sonima is a digital platform designed to deliver educational, practical, and inspiring wellness content to all. On Sonima you can find amazing articles, Deepak Chopra meditations, and full-length Ashtanga yoga videos (my favourite is this 20 minute yoga class from Sharath Jois. It’s perfect for your lunch break!).
In this exclusive interview Sonia talked to me about wellness, transformation, and Sonima.com.
How did you get started in yoga, and how has yoga transformed your life?
I was having terrible back problems and shortly after my fourth Caesarean section, I had to have back surgery. As therapy to recover, I started the Egoscue method to work on postural alignment, and Pete Egoscue recommended I start yoga.
At first, I was intimidated by the idea of quieting my mind, and I didn’t know how I felt about a daily practice. But when I did start, it was love at first sight. It has transformed my life by being a key part of my complete health and wellness, mental and physical.
Before back surgery, I didn’t take care of myself, and as a result, I got to where I could help take care of no one, even my children. Now, by taking care of myself, I am a better wife, mother, colleague and friend, and yoga is key to that.
“By taking care of myself, I am a better wife, mother, colleague and friend, and yoga is key to that.” – Sonia Jones (Tweet This)
Tell me a bit about Sonima.com and its launch.
Once I got into health and wellness, so many people kept coming up to me and asking how they could do Egoscue and yoga and other things, and the sad fact was that for some of them, it just wasn’t possible.
They lived in towns where yoga wasn’t taught, or if it was taught, it was at a certain time of day, and as busy mothers, they just couldn’t commit to that certain time every day. So I wanted to start a website that offered these programs of health and wellness for free so that people could do them whenever they want, wherever they want and for as long or short as they want.
As a mother of four, I know how busy mothers can get, and I wanted health and wellness to be available to anyone who wanted it.
Also, there’s so much information on health and wellness out there, I wanted really smart articles written by experts in the field to address all these topics. Nutrition is also key. It can be so hard to eat well these days, so I wanted to help people, especially busy mothers, with that. I wanted to offer smart tips on healthy eating as well as great recipes that they can actually cook at home.
Where does your interest in health and wellness come from?
Growing up in Australia, I always lived a healthy lifestyle—fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, being outside, exercising. Being healthy was innate to my being. In Australia, we were always active, walking, swimming, whatever. Also, the food is so fresh, and there were no preservatives in the food.
But when I moved to New York City, the healthy lifestyle I became accustomed to was no longer at my fingertips. I couldn’t just walk to the beach, the weather was cold a lot, and it became more of a struggle to live a healthy lifestyle.
Then when I had kids, they became my priority. I tried to eat healthily, but there was no time for exercise or meditation or anything to rejuvenate myself. It was the crisis of the back surgery that got me back on track.
Tell me about the Sonima Foundation. It’s such a fabulous idea, and there is such a need for it. How did it get started?
When my friend and business partner, Salima, and I started the Sonima Foundation in 2011, we wanted to bring health and wellness practices to students throughout the U.S., focusing on the underserved. It didn’t take long for us to realize we were on to something! These kids were going home and teaching their parents techniques that we taught them, like taking five deep breaths when they were angry or frustrated. The Foundation’s ultimate goal is to have one million kids on mats. I believe this will improve their health and well-being.
What are some of the programs you bring to schools?
The Sonima Foundation’s goal is to help students learn and practice the techniques and skills associated with lifelong health and wellness. These include yoga-based exercises, practicing mindfulness and teaching them about healthy nutrition. So far we’ve worked with more than 27,000 students and don’t plan to stop anytime soon! We are partnered with amazing public schools and educators; they help us to make the world a better place for one child, one family, one community at a time.
Do you have a favourite transformational wellness story you could share?
My husband. He grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, so he didn’t have a very healthy diet, and he didn’t work out that much. The transformation is incredible. He’s fitter today than he was at twenty.
What advice do you have for someone who is interested in wellness, but doesn’t know where to start?
Start small. Go for a walk or sit quietly for five minutes and take some deep breaths or throw some extra vegetables and water into your day. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel just from these small gestures. Then just keep adding, at your pace.
The important thing about starting is that you don’t have to know everything; you just have to know the next thing you’re going to do.
As you get into it and build your health and wellness practice, you’ll become increasingly confident and want to add more.
When you do, there are a lot of great sources that can offer guidance and advice. I’m partial to sonima.com, of course, but mostly because this is exactly the kind of person I started it for. There’s something on there for every level of fitness. I know how hard it is to start, but as Confucius said, “The longest journey begins with the first step.”
Learn more about Sonima:
Sonima.com is a new multimedia digital platform for health and wellness information, launched in November 2014. Through Sonima, Sonia works to deliver educational, practical, and inspiring content to help us all live better. Sonima.com is dedicated to helping people improve their lives by focusing on yoga, mindfulness, fitness and nutrition. Sonima.com provides free, full-length instructional videos including guided meditation videos by Deepak Chopra and yoga classes led by yoga master Sharath Jois.
The Sonima brand includes a number of related facets, including the The Sonima Foundation, a non-profit foundation that offers health and wellness programs across the United States with a focus on catering to underserved students from preschool to high-school; The Sonima Live Tour, a dynamic grassroots inspirational outreach program that combines the performing arts with character education; and The Sonima Wellness Center in Encinitas, California.