Yoga is Vegan with Holly Skodis

Yoga and veganism just go together and I am very excited to have Holly Skodis from Yoga is Vegan on the podcast!

Talk a little bit about your yoga journey and how that came into your life. How long have you been practicing yoga for?

Well, my oldest daughter’s now 17, so I will have been practicing yoga for 18 years now. Found it, when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter through a pregnancy yoga video, I can’t say that I really enjoyed it. For me at the time, it was a little too slow and I wasn’t particularly athletic, but then I started kind of finding people who were into yoga once I had my daughter and I started going to mommy and me [classes] and I, then my first yoga teacher, was really incredible. She embodied what yoga, like what a yoga teacher was supposed to look like, and she somehow had had a baby and she looked absolutely amazing. And I’m thinking, huh? I gained like 35, 40 pounds. I’m not kind of feeling your bliss, but I’m going to follow you because you’re clearly doing something that is working.

What made you decide to do a yoga teacher training?

I was getting into yoga consistently once my girls were in school and I had a friend of mine say, if you really want to up your practice, you need to practice at least five days a week. So I followed it. I just did it. And I met a girlfriend of mine who we just kept going to the studio all the time. They were having a teacher training and we thought let’s do it. I was turning 40 when I did that, which was kind of crazy, but it was fun.

Maybe that everyone feels this way. But after I did the 200 hours, I felt like I knew nothing. I had a lot to do so I was the type of student who really got into the lineage of yoga and almost like the magic of yoga. Are there secret powers of yogis? And I fell in love with the practice that way. And so I continued at that studio and ended up teaching. They asked me to teach once I did my 200 hours.

Once I moved over to the East coast, that’s when I met my teacher Dharma Mittra, and started doing my 500 hour, my 800 hour teacher trainings and that’s just where the practice shifted from being something that was physical and learning about the spiritual to experiencing it from a completely different angle and integrating the diet. So it’s been 18 years and still going strong.

You touched on changing your diet around this time, how did that come about to switching to a more plant-based diet?

[Back when I was doing my 200 hour teacher training, It was around the same time that I was starting to suffer some health issues. I had terrible anxiety. I had insomnia to the point where they were medicating me at the worst point. I couldn’t sleep for three straight days. It had gotten really dark and weird and I had done some blood work and found that all of a sudden my blood pressure was going up and my cholesterol was going up.

It was in that yellow zone of you don’t need to be medicated yet, but. You’re going to be soon, unless you do something. I watched the consequences of just what you take in through food, through drugs, through alcohol, through what kind of emotional setting you’re living in your household, how you treat other people, how all of that affects your longevity.

I knew I had to take these things seriously because at the very least as a new mom, I. I probably had some crappy genes. So I started watching Forks Over Knives. I’d read the China Study and that’s kinda where that seed got planted. A whole food plant-based diet is where I could make and reverse some of those changes.

[But] I didn’t know what to cook.  So I decided to be vegetarian and I’m going to do my 200 hour teacher training and commit to being vegetarian during that duration. And that’s kind of where it started. And then I went towards that plant-based and about six months after that vegetarian, which I was whole food, plant-based that 95% of the time.

You began combining what you’d learned with yoga and veganism into your life. How did that go?

I take being a yoga teacher very seriously. Not that my classes are always so serious, but that I think when you step into the seat of a teacher like if you’re going to be that teacher, you need to embody that what you’re trying to really project and to give to others and I now know through experience that the diet is very, geared towards opening and shifting your consciousness. And that’s kind of why I started with yoga is vegan that came after I did a vegan teacher training, but I really started understanding this concept that at its essence, the idea of getting to this higher consciousness.

A decision of, of compassion can be expressed through your choices, whether they’re what they take into your mouth, what you wear on your back, the way that you treat others. I think they’re all interconnected.

And I think everybody’s path is different and I don’t think there’s one specific prescription for yoga or for what the diet looks like, or like it’s, it’s all for everybody to experience. And that’s kind of been my goal is to embrace it and highlight it all. That’s how we, how we can collectively shine and inspire others.

When did you decide to start the Yoga is Vegan blog and podcast?

So I meditate quite a bit and it was sitting in my bedroom and I had my laptop there and I needed to meditate before I was doing whatever it was. All of a sudden, you know, you get, sometimes you just hear these kinds of voices come into your mind, and it was yoga is vegan.com. it was obviously on my mind, like I’m going to connect yoga and being as, what am I going to do with this? A

It started as a blog first because, well, first of all, I wasn’t going to put all this content together. I didn’t think I’ve always thought it was about the collective and not just about me. And, you know, I would prefer to highlight other people than myself. I love to post about other people and allow them to shine. And so that was just kind of the first model. It was all blogs at first and social media would be posted and it was meeting all these people and I want it to be global because I wasn’t too happy about living in Connecticut, and I didn’t like my friends here. I was like, well, I’ll just find friends everywhere else, which I have, which is great

I was invited to speak at Cincy Veg Fest and my first episode will just be my kind of working out my speech and it was great, good experience to just kind of start to understand what is this all about? But I started going, okay, we’ll do the podcast.

What’s some advice you can offer new yoga teachers?

To not get caught up, trying to be someone else. You can be inspired by others, but I think part of what makes a good teacher is someone who has the confidence to be the expression of their self and, and to be okay with whatever that expression is.

And to just share your practice. And also if you’re a teacher have your own practice, don’t be a teacher who only does other people’s classes. That’s where you’re going to learn the most. And that is what you can teach to other people.

What’s some advice you can offer someone considering a vegan lifestyle?

Just start doing something and don’t look at it as you have to be perfect. But if being vegan is something that you want to try, then give it a full try. And if you’re someone who needs to plan ahead, think about a few days ahead of time and make sure you have food in your house and make sure you eat enough calories. Because I think that’s something that people run into problems with!

So if it’s for animals and then do it for the animals. Do it for a cause greater than you. And just stick to something and try it for a little while and know just like anything that if you’re doing something important, it usually it takes effort. And if it’s something that’s going to make you feel good about yourself and to be proud of that, it’s not always going to be easy and that’s okay.

And just like a practice with yoga. If, something goes wrong, just say, okay, that was a great learning point.

Follow Holly and the Yoga is Vegan journey at yogaisvegan.com