YIV: How were you first introduced to yoga? Why have you continued to practice?
BM: I had first discovered yoga 16 years ago when I moved to L.A. from N.Y. A good friend of mine named Onahoua Rodriguez, took me to a 'living room' yoga class taught by a woman named Korbi and 10 minutes into the class I was hooked!
I had studied the Martial Arts and I achieved my 2nd degree Black Belt under the instruction & mentorship of Jerry “Fast Feet” Fontanez. And for 10 years, I taught at all 5 of the Fontanez Karate schools all throughout New York. When I took my first yoga class I soon noticed the similarities between yoga & the martial arts were incredible; from the breathing, balance, flexibility, meditation, focus and concentration, everything but the ego!
Since I was now living in L.A.and looking for something to do while I was pursuing my filmmaking dreams, I decided yoga would be perfect!
YIV: When did you go vegan? Why did you make the decision to do so?
MB: I've been a vegetarian since I was 16 years old. This decision was due to a 30 minute conversation I had in a car ride from the Bronx to Queens, with two of my karate buddies Steven "the Rock" Katz and "Papa Joe." I asked Papa Joe what I could do about the asthma attacks I had been having since I was a kid, since I knew he knew a great deal about health and nutrition. He asked me "Do you eat meat?" I said "Yes". He said "That's why...." 30 minutes later, Mind-blown! Life changed! Lol.
But it was the teachings of yoga eventually lead me to becoming vegan.
YIV: Why is do you think yoga is vegan?
MB: Because yoga is union. Union with ALL living beings. Yoga is love. Yoga is compassion. And if the ultimate goal of yoga is reaching Samadhi; Enlightenment, to become Awakened or as my Guru Sri Dharma Mittra says - "Self-realization or Self-actualization", then how can we reach this ultimate level of Oneness if we are still causing the pain and suffering to any living being? Including animals... Besides, if we truly understand and embrace the laws of Karma, then on some level we must know that eventually it all comes right back around.
YIV: As a teacher, do you ever introduce the concept of ahimsa or veganism to your students? If so, how has it been received?
MB: All the time! I run 200 & 300 hour yoga teacher trainings and on Day 2 I give a discussion on the 8 Limbs of Yoga, where we talk about Ahimsa in great depths. Most, not all students become vegetarian or vegan while in our teacher trainings. Some stick with it. Some don't. And that's ok. It takes a great deal of effort, discipline and awareness to constantly be looking for the most effective ways to nourish ourselves over our lifetime; meaning how and what I ate at 16 is far different than how and what I eat now. I eat way better now because there are so many great vegan restaurants and options. Most supermarkets carry vegan and vegetarian foods. But unfortunately because it's so trendy, vegan restaurants tend to be on the pricier side.
YIV: What advice would you give to a yoga student who wants to become vegan?
MB: Research it. Don't just take my word or any other's word for it. Read books like "Yoga and Vegetarianism" and "How not to Die". Watch movies like "Forks Over Knives", "Food Inc." "Cowspiracy" and "What the Health?" See what's best for YOU.
YIV: Do you have a favorite vegan recipe you would like to share?
MB: My smoothies are vegan and delicious. I have one every day. 1 banana, 1 avocado, almond butter, a hand full of berries (blueberries and / or strawberries), Ripple vanilla or chocolate milk (pea protein) and Vega protein powder - vanilla or chocolate milk. Soooo Yummmmmy!
YIV: Where do you love to go for vegan food?