Becoming a Vegetarian

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Being in the yoga industry, I have obviously heard plenty of buzz that vegetarianism is better for your health. Common sense says plants are loaded with nutrients and probably a superior choice when it comes to choosing foods than most alternatives; however, making a big change is never easy. Over the past 7 years I have found myself making excuse after excuse not to believe the things discussed in documentaries Food Inc, What the Health, and Cowspiracy. I found myself justifying the information by saying, “I will buy grass-fed, I will buy local, I won’t support the processed meat industry.” In reality, I was only taking the nuggets I considered ‘truth’ from the documentaries and tossing out the information that felt inconvenient.

In 2011 I enrolled in my first yoga teacher training at Laughing Lotus in NYC; wherein, I was to follow a yogic diet practicing ahimsa non-harm through vegetarianism. The information booklet we were given at  registration read, “do not eat foods with a face or a heart.” I was excited about the accountability factor during my summer intensive; however, when I found out that some yogis scampered out for lunch at the burger joint down the street my commitment felt cheapened and it wasn’t long before I was swapping my falafel and hummus plate for a chicken wrap.  

Each time I recommitted, I changed my mind. Each time a close friend, someone I admired, or a family member made a comment about my vegetarianism, I interpreted it as an insult. I was insecure about my decision because of my history with food; more specifically, my history of not eating food. Everything I have learned about eating disorder recovery emphasizes, everything in moderation. Restriction of any kind is frowned upon; thus, I allowed the fear of being seen as someone still struggling with anorexia to keep me from committing.

One day a few months ago I was sitting on my back porch with Thunderbolt Studio Manager, Alex Bartee, and her husband-to-be Clark Davis. When the conversation shifted to their veganism, I listened with defensive ears.  I recall telling Clark that a doctor told me it was important to eat meat while I was pregnant and that I had been forwarded an article about a vegan who was supposedly starving her baby because her breastmilk wasn’t nutrient-rich. Clark’s response was akin to listening to a vegan activist, he was educated, passionate, and convincing, a true man of conviction. In less than thirty minutes I realized the truth; there is no humane way to kill an animal, it is nearly impossible to avoid toxic food contaminants in flesh foods, and as a leader in the yoga community I needed to shift my own actions.  

In yoga I teach connection, an awareness about one’s impact on another, the why  practicing yoga in a room with others is so moving. I teach students to dissolve their state of individual reality; instead, adopting an inclusive ‘we are one’ ideal. If I can resonate on the mantra, we are all more alike than we are different, it’s easier to understand the harm in eating animals. For the same reasons I look at brand integrity before selling a label in our yoga studio, I see my new journey as a vegetarian as non-negotiable.

Check out Thunderbolt Studio Manager and instagram sensation, @plantifulalex, for inspiring vegan recipes, her testimonial, and more. 

Favorite Vegetarian Cookbook

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eat like you give a f*ck

This book is an invitation to everyone who wants to do better to elevate their kitchen game. No more ketchup and pizza counting as vegetables. No more drive-thru lines. No more avoiding the produce corner of the supermarket. Shit is about to get real. 

Get yours here.

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Carly Grace Milyo

Born in New York City,  Carly Grace grew up in Atlanta and graduated from The Westminster Schools.  Carly received her Bachelor of Science in Human Development, and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Virginia Tech in 2012. During her college career, Carly began practicing yoga as an escape from her intense ACC Cheerleading training. The rigor and requirements Carly upheld as an ACC athlete combined with the social expectations and action packed schedule expected of an Alpha Phi left Carly depleted both physically and mentally.  Before Carly found yoga, she used running, partying with friends, and restricting her diet to maintain a sense of control in her life. It was Carly's true desire to find more purposeful and authentic friendships and to invest her time in cultivating her greater well-being and spirituality that lead her to yoga. 

The creativity and physical challenge of yoga captivated and inspired Carly. Yoga was the first thing Carly practiced where the perfect-ten mentality was not required; in fact, perfection is the antithesis of yoga principles.  After hanging up her poms poms and retiring from her ACC Cheerleading career, Carly quickly found herself  invested in the In Balance Yoga Community in Blacksburg, VA.  With encouragement and affirmation from Studio Owner, Becky Crigger, Carly set out for New York City to train with Dana Trixie Flynn at Laughing Lotus Love Skool.

Yoga Alliance 200 E-RYT, Carly has studied and practiced with many influencers and teachers all over the United States.  Carly currently teaches Thunderbolt Power Yoga®;  a powerful alignment based vinyasa flow inspired by some of her greatest influencers including, Dana Trixie Flynn and Baron Baptiste.  Carly infuses creative ideas and sequencing into her classes. Her purpose as a teacher is to inspire people to move like themselves. Carly is committed to helping students be audaciously playful in both their practice and in their lives. 

You can catch Carly Grace teaching at her studio Thunderbolt Power Yoga, at off-site events such as the infamous FIT Yoga Series with Carly Grace at W Atl Buckhead, at music festivals, corporate conferences, and more!  Be sure to look out for Carly's quarterly Boombox Power Yoga® Class offered alongside a live DJ, accompanied by her pink boombox, and enhanced with a 16 inch disco ball. 

In the mean time, you can follow her adventures on instagram (@yoga__barbie) or give her a wave when you see her drive by in her infamous pink jeep!