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Sharon Gannon: "Cooking the Path to Enlightenment"

Sharon Gannon: "Cooking the Path to Enlightenment"

Interview with Jivamukti yoga founder Sharon Gannon on being vegan and her culinary experience, now with a vegan recipe cookbook

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The practice of yoga and a vegan diet? The two are deeply connected, says American guru Sharon Gannon, already author of Yoga and Vegetarianism: The Diet of Enlightenment , on the release of her upcoming second book Simple Recipes for Joy: A Vegan Cookbook in Spring 2013.

“Many people may say that they aren’t interested in the spiritual philosophy of yoga but only in its physical benefits. What could be more physical than what you eat?", she told FDL. "The most direct way to change our physical bodies is through the food we eat.”

Sharon Gannon is one of the most respected figures in today’s yoga world. She and her partner David Life, founded the Jivamukti Yoga Method, back in 1984, and it is now taught in dedicated schools around the world, NYC, Charleston, Washington, DC, Toronto, London, Moscow, Stavanger, Munich, Berlin, Bern and Sydney.

Jivamukti yoga is a very dynamic yoga method, really appreciated from well-known yoga practitioners like Madonna, Donna Karan, and Sting, that connects the oriental tradition with contemporary linguistic codes, it's a fusion of the body with philosophy, chanting and music. 

Music plays a fundamental part in the classes, but instead of an Indian sitar, yogis are will be aligning their bodies to the sounds of the Chemical Brothers or Daft Punk. The mantra "Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu" (May all beings everywhere be happy and free and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute to that happiness and freedom for all), is repeated often in a Jivamukti class and it became a dance track on Sharon’s new album, Sharanam.

A vegan and vegetarian diet is also often discussed in classes as essential to the practice. As she said to FDL: “Our power lies in our example: when we are happy, healthy, joyful and passionate vegans others will take notice. We should never be afraid of seeming radical, all the best people in History were radical!”

Her first “spiritual guide”, Pattabhi-jois, once told her that if she were interested in enlightenment, she should first master the art of cooking. Sharon offers vegan dishes in her JivamuktiTea Café in New York, in a blissful, relaxing atmosphere. Many of her recipes will be included on her next cookbook.

You can also get a taste right after your yoga practice at the school on 841 Broadway’s snack bar, some examples of snacks include: Rainbow Chakra Smoothies, hot and cold sandwiches, salads rich in vegetable protein, soups, and desserts prepared with the best organic ingredients.
“If yoga is taught as a path to enlightenment then including what we eat as part of the practice is a reasonable approach”, she says.

“The enlightened yogi does not see others as other than their own self and treats others compassionately.“ And she concludes: “Raising animals for food causes more water, soil and air pollution than any other industry. It also is the biggest cause of global warming, deforestation and uses more fossil fuel than any other industry. We can do ourselves, the animals and the Earth a big favor by becoming vegan.” 

She dished out one of her favorite recipes for FDL, try it at home.

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