What prompted this project and how has the process helped you grow in your own practice?
Real, modern life was the prompt for RETOX. I moved to NYC when I was 21 to work on the trading floor of Morgan Stanley. I would sit there from 530/6am every day until at least 6pm, and in my first years often past 9pm, and tried desperately to feel great in the context. I ate my salads, drank endless water, worked out and/or did yoga every day, be it at 430 am or 10pm, and had a great, consistent relationship with my family and friends. Yet, I soon realized that real, down and dirty modern life was more complicated. I longed for a handbook to help me keep it together while juggling my career, social life, health, and family. That’s how RETOX was born.
In 2003 I started to practice yoga 7 days a week - with equally intense study of yoga philosophy and anatomy alongside my time on the mat. Then I began studies in nutrition, and explorations into meditation and Tibetan Buddhist yoga theory. I had a hunch that this combination was the key to unlocking success and happiness no matter what life threw me, and this eventually evolved into my own business, I.AM.YOU.
I.AM.YOU. is a 360-degree lens for wellness, based on yoga, nourishment, mindset and music. With I.AM.YOU., and at my NYC NoLita studio (of the same name) I began to experiment with RETOX methodologies on my clients, which forced me to deepen my studies, personal practice across the genres, and go deep for answers so that I could serve my students and their various ailments.
In the past 6 years, I.AM.YOU. has grown, with thousands of students across various countries. They are my research for RETOX methodologies, which has become this handbook of realistic, doable, effective solutions I’d always craved.
As a person in recovery, i’m personally curious to ensure that “Retox” isn’t what it SEEMS to mean. Can you elaborate?
RETOX is about adding things into your life to make you successful, happy, and fully you, inside and out. RETOX is not about dogma or trendy dietary restrictions, but instead about harnessing all that you and the world around you have to offer, and converting that into the best version of you no matter what life throws you. It is true freedom, one that permits you to explore what you need when you may need it. In recovery, you are likely replacing the substance with something good for you, be it love, music, new foods – that’s RETOX. Taking away something bad and adding in something good, or Detox to Retox as I call it.
What makes this work distinct from other workout / nutrition programs?
RETOX is straight up, real, and applicable to the life you really lead. I analyze the 20 biggest challenges of modern life, everything from headaches to PMS, bloating to iPhone addiction, and give you one simple go-to solution that combines yoga, nourishment, and mindset - with a dash of music. In RETOX, I do not expect you to wake up at 4 in the morning and meditate or steam your vegetables every morning to take to work – that is unrealistic for most of us. I instead provide yoga poses to do at the desk and in a minute no matter where you are, as well as full sequences and videos. There are snack lists, grocery lists, tips for eating out and 10 minute, 1-pan recipes, as well as meditations, mantras, and action plans stemming from Tibetan Buddhist philosophy, all to help you be your your best you on any given day.
In RETOX there is no more stripping ourselves of everything, inherently adding stress, guilt, and pressure to our lives; it instead is about adding things in that will enhance our wellbeing and feelings of self worth, confidence, and strength. As I say in the book, I.AM.YOU. and RETOX do not change your world, they make you better within it.
If you had to name one of the chapters as your favourite, which and why?
That’s a tough one! They all start with a personal story so I feel tied to all.
That said, probably ”I HAVE TO” or ”I’M FAT” - two very threatening, taboo topics that we’ve all faced.
”I HAVE TO” is about tapping into what you really want to do and need to do to be your best you, as opposed to following along like a sheep in the pack of life, making career moves, relationship decisions, family choices, dietary rules, and more simply because you think you have to, or because society expects you to. ”I HAVE TO” is about starting to listen to the real you, what it needs, and what it wants.
”I’M FAT” stems from an issue almost every person I know has suffered from, admittedly or not – feeling fat. It is about learning to see yourself in the mirror no matter what side of the mental or physical scale you are on, and accepting that you have the power to change you, both the intangible you, in terms of your perception of your self, and tangible you, in terms of your physical body. It addresses eating disorders in a very real way, with a story about mine, and explores the road to recovery combining yoga, nourishment, and mindset, from there.