Practice Makes Perfect – Arlene Chaplin

 “Yoga brings people together physically and mentally, while creating harmonious relationships.”

If ever there were a deserving candidate for Woman of Substance, it is Arlene Chaplin. The mother of three, devoted wife and avid yogi has her hand in more projects than we can wrap our heads around, but somehow she manages to excel at everything she puts her mind to. And her latest endeavor in particular, YogArt, is what most intrigues us.

Inspired by a birthday present that she gave to friend Lee Schrager (who happens to also work alongside Arlene’s husband, Wayne, at his esteemed wine and spirits distribution company, Southern Wine and Spirits) YogArt’s first-ever event series debuted at last year’s Art Basel as a sanctioned affair. “Our friendship has dated back over 25 years,” Arlene says. “I wanted to share my passion for yoga with him on his birthday, so I gave him 10 private yoga sessions with my yoga teacher, Dawn Fienberg. I called him consistently until he made his first appointment, and just as I fell in love with yoga and Dawn’s teaching method, so did he. Even with Lee’s busy schedule he found time to do yoga, and saw its rewards and incredible benefits. Soon after, Lee, Dawn and I collaborated to create YogArt.”

The YogArt experience gives regular practitioners and curious novices the ability to unwind during one of the most hectic weeks of year, and with both sunrise and sunset sessions taking place throughout the day, the event allows for individuals to participate when their schedules permit. Last year’s inaugural series drew in nearly 1,000 guests, one of which being celebrity yogi Russell Simmons.

The Chaplins are a tight-knit family, and the dynamic between husband and wife is a love story picked out of a fairytale. “Wayne absolutely amazes me,” Arlene says of her husband, with adoring eyes and a proud smile. “No matter how busy he is both professionally and philanthropically he still has time to be a great father, friend and husband. After 26 years of marriage, I am sure that I am a better and kinder person because of him.” The model couple has been recognized for their roles in both the business and philanthropic realms, and their efforts extend across organizations including the Honey Shine Mentor program, Miami City Ballet, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Mount Sinai Medical Center, the Merit Scholarships program at the University Miami School of Law and Women of Tomorrow.

Aside from her husband, Arlene also looks to two women as a source of inspiration: her mother Sheila Hollo and Barbara Streisand. “My mom gave me the love and foundation to believe in myself,” Arlene explains. “While I was growing up my mother emphasized the importance of having a career and always trying to be the best person that I could be.” The mother-daughter relationship shared between Arlene and Sheila is mimicked in the way she’s raised her own children: David, Jennifer and Mark. Arlene is involved in all three of her children’s schools, and is an active PTA board member at Miami Country Day School, a member of the parent counsel at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and a parent board member at the University of Miami’s School of Law.

The latter of her two mentors, Babs, is an unexpected revelation. “No one knows about my admiration for Barbra Streisand,” Arlene says, “but her voice is amazing. Quietly, I have always dreamed of singing on stage one day. I better stick to Yoga!”

With Art Basel 2012 around the corner, we can say with absolute confidence that this year’s YogArt festivities will attract newcomers by the hundreds, and that under Arlene Chaplin’s guidance, the concept is sure to extend far beyond Miami. “We would love to expand YogArt into other cities in the future,” she hints. “Yoga brings people together physically and mentally, while creating harmonious relationships.”