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Banka Bihari, Hawaii

YIV: How were you first introduced to yoga? Why have you continued to practice? 
B: My mother introduced me to meditation as a teenager to help me calm my nervous system so i could fall asleep. I suffered from insomnia. I have continued to practice because yoga heals, transforms and liberates my body, heart, mind and spirit.
YIV: When did you go vegan? Why did you make the decision to do so? 

B: I went vegetarian when i was 17, and vegan when i was 18. So 32 years! I went vegan because i discovered the cruelty in factory farming. I had an awakening from my small centered self to the realization that animals were being raised in concentration camps. I feel a kindred spirit in George Angell's words, "I am sometimes asked,' WHY SPEND SO MUCH OF YOUR TIME AND MONEY TALKING ABOUT KINDNESS TO ANIMALS WHEN THERE IS SO MUCH CRUELTY TO MEN? I answer,' I AM WORKING AT THE ROOTS.' George Angell(1823-1909) Founder MA Society for Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals
YIV: Why is do you think yoga is vegan? 

B: I feel that yoga is vegan because it is the conscious embodiment of putting compassion in action. Liberation is for all sentient creatures, not just humans.Yoga is about awakening to universal truth- Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment. The law of karma is real. As Shantideva wrote, "May the slander, harm And all forms of abuse That anyone should direct towards me Act as a cause of their enlightenment."
YIV: As a teacher, do you ever introduce the concept of ahimsa or veganism to your students? If so, how has it been received?
B: All the time. As an Advanced Certified Jivamukti teacher it is our first tenet. I introduce ahimsa in my musical playlist, in the spiritual talk or in chanting or at the end of class when we can't the mantra ***LOKAH SAMASTA SUKINO BHAVANTU*** May all beings everywhere be happy & free. And May the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and freedom for all. It has been received many ways-with resistance, denial, wonder, questioning, etc.
YIV: What advice would you give to a yoga student who wants to become vegan? 
B: I would suggest doing it with a friend for support. I would also suggest that the student research and prepare themselves-perhaps tuning in to the cosmic rhythms and starting their new lifestyle of compassion on the New Moon or Equinox or Soulstice to have the Cosmic energy to ground and empower them. Create a sacred ritual, a rites of passage, for this rebirthing into a holistic, magical and compassionate life. I would also suggest the student visits and or volunteers at a local animal sanctuary to make the connection between cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, turkeys, etc.
YIV: Do you have a favorite vegan recipe you would like to share? If it's not your own, please credit the author.

B: Pesto- I use a cup of macadamia or cashew nuts. 4-5 cups of fresh basil. 1 cup of sauerkraut or pickle water, 4-5 cloves of garlic, dashes of smoked paprika.Put all ingredients in a blender. If you need more juice to blend add water. The fermented water adds a kick to the pesto and nourishes the digestion.
YIV: Where do you love to go for vegan food? 

B: To my garden. There is nothing like stepping outside, barefoot and picking kale, dill, tomatoes, cucumbers, cilantro, collards, mustard greens, avocados, citrus, bananas, rollinia, abiu, etc. Not to mention all the flowers which are nourishment for the spirit.
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