5 Questions With: SriMati Aka Julie Piatt, Author of This Cheese is Nuts!

Photo by: Maclay Heriot

I first heard of SriMati, aka Julie Piatt, via her book, The Plantpower Way a few years ago but it was only in the last year and a half that I really started following all of the incredible things she has been doing. SriMati, is a mother, a yogi, a spiritual leader, a vegan chef, a podcast host and also the wife of renown athlete and podcast host himself, Rich Roll. She recently recently her latest book, This Cheese is Nuts!, and is already working on her third called The Plantpower Way; Italia, which will be released in 2018. She will also be leading her first solo retreat this October in Malta. I’m incredibly honoured to have her share some of her journey today with you all!

1) You recently released your book called This Cheese Is Nuts! to critical acclaim, why was the creation and publication of this book so important for you?

In my first book, The Plantpower Way, I included a foundational basic cheese section which contained recipes for absolutely delicious warm cashew cheese and brazil nut cream.  I knew I  had only scratched the surface of what I would discover would turn out to be an earth shaking evolution of what I like to call cheese 2.0.  This is a kinder, gentler cheese which is in alignment with health and wellness for body, heart and spirit.

2) When did you first get interested in adopting a plant-based diet and how has it changed your life?   

I began to eat more living vibrant foods when I began practicing yoga and meditation.  The desire to eat meat simply dropped from me as a by product of my practice.  Later I developed a golf ball sized cyst in my neck which I considered a gift and an opportunity to explore the reality of “Food As Medicine”.  I found it truly was, and my body healed itself with the use of medicinal ayurvedic herbs, a lifestyle reset and largely a plant based diet.

3) You are a woman of many hats. In addition to being a vegan chef, you are also the host of a spiritual and wellness podcast called Divine Throughline, a musician and a yogi, amongst many other things. What do each of these different disciplines bring to your life?

It’s true I have always been wired in a multi -dimensional way.  To me, 2+2 = 22 instead of 4.  I express myself in many mediums or channels for my creativity.  The reason I can do that is because I know that it is really just one thing expressing in many different ways; the force that is breathing all life.

4) In this fast-paced world that we currently live in, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and also uninspired to create but you seem to constantly be working on new creative endeavours. What is the key for creating successfully and not letting the outside world distract you from your mission?

At this point in my journey, I understand that everything in my life is simply by the grace of the cosmic Mother.  A human life is precious beyond measure and if I am here alive and in a body, then I will share my heart with all I have been given as an offering of devotion to life.

5) Meditation and mindfulness are hot topics these days. How can meditation help you navigate through every day life?

Yoga and meditation are ancient practices of connecting with life force that I have experienced to be shelter from the storm and grace in times of suffering.  They are the first things.  The essentials before anything else enters.

For more information on SriMati, check out her website here.

Cultivate Wellness

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Mark your calendars! On June 25th, The Habit Project will be organizing an incredible day of wellness in Chilliwack, BC called Cultivate Wellness to raise money for the BC Cancer Foundation’s Workout to Conquer Cancer. If you aren’t familiar with The Habit Project already, they’re a wellness company created by two families that make delicious cold-pressed juices and nut mylks. Danielle and Mariah, took a few minutes out of their busy schedules to share more about what they do at The Habit Project and what people can expect to experience at the Cultivate Wellness retreat in June!

Can you explain what the Cultivate Wellness event is all about? 

Cultivate Wellness is a collaborative wellness mini-retreat benefiting the BC Cancer Foundation’s Workout to Conquer Cancer.  We are so excited to gather participants from Vancouver to Chilliwack to take part in this event. 

What are some of the things that people attending will be able to experience?

Participants will be guided through a series of fitness workshops: featuring boxing with All City Athletics, the Class by Taryn Toomey led by Turf, yoga with Studio B and meditation by Moment Meditation. Our sweaty morning will be complimented by inspirational wellness and nutrition discussions by Mariah Vermeer of The HABIT Project, Kate Horsman and Katrina Vanderveen of Fortify Natural Wellness. Our retreat is designed to educate, inspire and provide space for individuals to take time for themselves and to forge new relationships with like minded community members.  A nutritious brunch will be provided by Faspa and Co, coffee by Jack Coffee and cold-pressed juice by The Habit Project. 

View More: http://yingerdesign.pass.us/cultivate2016

Why was it important for you to put together an event for physical and mental wellbeing? How does that tie into your mission at The Habit Project?

We believe habits are powerful and that everyone has the ability to take small steps in their daily lives to incorporate more balance and wellness habitually.  It is our sincere belief that with a focus on quality, balance and intention, we can all create healthy habits that benefit our day to day lives immensely.

We grew up here in Chilliwack on a small farm where we sold bags of apples on the side of the road.  Our parents instilled in us a passion for agriculture and took the time to show us the importance of eating and cooking with whole, natural foods.  In an era where the art of farming and the understanding of where your food comes from has been lost, we would like to continue this path of education and agricultural awareness.

We feel privileged to have the space to host such an event at our family farm, The Chilliwack Corn Maze.  We met Genieve last year at Cultivate, our long table dinner, and were immediately drawn to her motivation to inspire individuals to holistic living.  From there, Cultivate wellness was envisioned and a dream team came together to put on this amazing event.   

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In addition to being an event, this day is also a fundraiser for Workout to Conquer Cancer, why did you want to work with this organization?

Everyone has been touched by cancer in some way or another.  We can all relate to it’s power over our lives.  We wanted to work with an organization who focused not only on the research but also preventative health.  Work out to Conquer Cancer is a month long movement in pursuit in raising awareness and crucial funds for the BC Cancer foundation.  These funds fuel ground breaking cancer research and care at the provinces 6 BC cancer agency locations.  Funds raised towards Work Out to Conquer Cancer will support research initiatives for all cancer including breast, ovarian, lymphoid to name a few where researchers are making major advancements into early diagnosis treatment and prevention of these diseases.

After we had already chosen to work with Work Out BC, we hired someone at HABIT who we later found out battled cancer for three years.  Katrina Vanderveen is going to speak at our event for the very first time about her experience and journey through this difficult time.  She is strong and extremely inspiring and sure to touch everyone she meets.  She passionate about healthy living and has recently completed her Nutrition certification and ready to help guide others with cancer prevention.  She started Fortify Natural Wellness under which she will provide nutritional consulting for individuals as well as a granola line.  It’s really the best granola you’ve ever had!!!  We just adore, Katrina.

How important is community for what you do at The Habit Project?

Community is a core value of our company.  We want to be more than just a juice company.  We want to inspire people to reach their goals and build each other up along the way.  We hope to create a HABIT community; a group of people passionate about creating healthy habits and a life made better by wellness.  We hope that in enjoying our products people will feel nourished as well as supported on their own wellness journey by a community of people bound together by kindness and strength.

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There are only a few tickets left for the Cultivate Wellness event taking place on June 25th in Chilliwack, BC. All participants will be receiving a free Lululemon yoga mat at the event and have the opportunity to win some amazing raffle prizes. For more info or to get your tickets, go here. Hope to see you there!

5 Questions With: Anita Cheung of Moment Meditation

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Meditation has become an important part of my life these past couple of months. If you’ve been following this website, you may have seen some of my previous posts on leading a more mindful life. I was thrilled to find out that Vancouver has a great new space called Moment Meditation, located right in downtown. I wanted to find out more about this meditation oasis so I sat down with one of Moment’s co-founders Anita Cheung this week. I hope our conversation will inspire you to check them out!

1) What was the inspiration behind this space?

There are three founders, Evian, Hiroko and myselF. We all found meditation through various points in our life but we found each other in a really interesting way. Moment the brand, the concept as it is, is a drop-in meditation studio, which was technically started almost two and a half years ago. I had this crazy idea to open a drop-in meditation studio as a pop-up for a week back in 2014. This was in Chinatown, it was a street front retail space that I took over for a week and ran it like I do Moment. You could come in and do audio-guided meditations, there were group classes and at night we had speaker events and mindful dinners. That was completely self-funded. I felt so compelled to do it because meditation had a really huge impact on me, it helped me come out of depression. It was one of the long-lasting tools that really stuck. I am very passionate about it and wanted to share it with the world.

But at the time, I didn’t think there was a living to be had from meditation, it didn’t feel right. I focused on my other projects and left Moment as it was. Not this past December but the one before, it crept up again and I had this desire to create a mobile meditation space. The opportunity came up for a one-day pop-up because a friend had a trailer I could borrow. That got a little bit of press because it was right around Christmas and everyone is stressed out during that time but now they had an oasis right in downtown Vancouver to take a moment. The next day Evian called me, I didn’t know him but we started talking and he said I have this idea and you’re doing it, can we partner? So we met and chatted a little bit and the next time I met him, he was with Hiroko and they had already been talking about. It was serendipitous because they were talking about it and the next day Evian saw it in the newspaper. Our original intention and still our intention now is to create a mobile fleet of meditation spaces. Our intention is to have one in Chicago, LA, London and here. We opened this space as a pilot for our project. We got the keys to this place in September, now just hired a bunch of teachers and now it’s out in the world. 

2) What are some of the services and classes that people can come and take at Moment right now?

Right now we have a class schedule that is similar to a fitness studio; early morning, after work and a few in mid-day. They are 45 minute classes except for lunch, who are only 30 mins. All of our classes are structured around different parts of the brain that are trained or activated when you meditate. Hiroko’s background is in content development, she’s a psychologist expert in all-things brain. She has created the program around Calm, Focus and Happiness, because those are three distinct parts of the brain. So people can choose those three classes or they can choose a Moment Signature class. We’re looking to roll out a couple of other fun features like virtual classes, so projecting some big players in meditation from LA, New York, onto our screens and have people come in. We have a couple of big players locally that are going to be leading some of the classes here.

Other things that people can do, is just book in, kind of like car2go, you can book 5, 10, 30 mins of quiet time at the studio. 

The third pillar is our measurability of meditation. Hiroko spent her life doing this kind of work on a one-on-one level with her patients at her clinic practice. What we’ve created is this space and the technology that allows people to measure how they are meditating and how it’s working for them. What we call the MQ, it’s like an IQ but “Mindfulness Quotient“, is basically your ability to respond to stress. It looks at your brainwave activity, breath rate and heart rate, muscle tension and puts you through this little stress test and then shows you how well you can focus and how well you can bounce back from being in a stressful environment. What science has told us is that if you meditate, you can do that much more quickly, you’re more flexible, you’re more resilient. So people can really see the numbers behind, if I meditate for a month, come back at the end of the meditation and see what your score is and how it has changed. 

3) What are the tools that people can use when they come in for individual meditation?

We have audio-guided meditations, there are five to choose from right now. We are looking to change it up so that there’s a menu and every month there’s a special. This month we have Casey-Jo from The Peak, she has an amazing voice and she’s recorded something for us. Next month, we are doing a spoken-word meditation. We will constantly cycle things in and out. We’ll record some of our teachers as well but we’re hoping to expand to even more people. 

4) For people that are new to meditation, what would you recommend as a good introduction for them?

I would recommend a group class because there’s strength in numbers. Our classes are fun. They’re 45 mins long but you’re not meditating for 45 mins. There’s a portion at the beginning that’s either just writing or drawing, a quiet moment that just gets you out of your work mode and into this contemplative mode. There’s a lot of chatting, you get to meet some great people that are like-minded and in the same boat. It’s all guided, so 10 mins of guided meditation, we come back up, we have a chat and ask questions. So then we’ll dive into a second meditation 10 mins max and have a quick chat afterwards and then you’re done. 

5) Do you find that the city of Vancouver is a city that is open to this kind of space?

I think that the city is getting there and that there’s a lot of education that is still to be had, which surprised us. It’s a fun surprise because we get to educate people on what it means to be meditating and how different it is from yoga, how it stands alone from yoga. The time is right, the tide is changing, people are open to it. If we would have done it two years ago, it wouldn’t have gone as well. People are curious now. There’s still that bit of fear but we’re noticing that people are interested and craving it almost. 

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For more information on Moment Meditation, go here.

5 Ways to Reduce Stress During the Holidays

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The holidays are just around the corner and though it can be the most exciting and joyful time of year it can also be a very stressful time for some. Because I have been on the path to reduce and eliminate as much stress from my life as possible these past few months, I thought I would share some of the things I’ve learned in hopes that it may lead to a more relaxing holiday season for you all!

1) Download the Headspace app. The Headspace app has been my go-to during the past year when my schedule’s gotten crazy, when I’ve wanted to decompress or deal with a stressful situation. The app is a guided meditation and mindfulness app that helps you deal with whatever situation or feelings you may be going through in life. You can download their free introductory series Take10, they offer 10 sessions of 10 minutes. It has been a HUGE help with my anxiety, insomnia and has helped me become more calm and focused as well as a happier and healthier person.

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2) Get sunlight. The sun is a great way to produce serotonin, the feel-good chemical, which is a great way to alleviate stress and anxiety during the holidays. It can also help reduce the Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), something I have been affected by in years prior. My favorite things to do even during these colder months is either going for a walk during the day, go for a run, riding my bike (when there’s no snow!), go snowboarding, etc. Vitamin D will be a huge mood booster and stress reliever during this busy time of year.

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3) Stick to a routine. During the holidays, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the parties, events and things you have to do. Hence why sticking to a routine as much as possible is incredibly important. Prioritize the things that you absolutely have to do and ditch or play by ear the things that aren’t mandatory. Squeezing in too much can lead to extra stress for nothing.

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4) Don’t forget to work out. The holidays may be extremely busy but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t make time for yourself every day. Even if this means getting up an hour earlier every morning, or taking some personal breaks during the day, this oh-so precious “me time” will have a huge impact on your day and how you feel during the holiday season. If you don’t have time for a long gym workout, run, swim, etc. get active for 15-20 minutes, anything counts. Even if you can only do one quick NTC app workout in the morning by your bedside, your head and your body will thank you. I always feel so much calmer and energized after I take time to work out every day. Plus it’s a great way to reflect, focus and make sure that you are taking care of yourself.

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5) Ditch the smartphone. Take time to really enjoy the holidays this year. Enjoy in-real-life conversations, debates, enjoy the quality time with your friends and family. Make an effort to put your phone away or put it on airplane mode. You don’t need to be browsing Instagram, obsessing over what everyone got during the holidays, what people are doing, etc. Be grateful for the present moment, the interactions you’ll have. It’ll make you feel a lot calmer and most definitely less stressed!

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