This is the second half of the Best of 2019. In this episode, the compilation of excerpts focuses on personal development, healing, spiritual growth and being effective vegan activists and teachers.
Obi Ndefo: As an actor of Nigerian and American heritage, onscreen and onstage, Obi Ndefo’s relationship with his body has been crucial for his life’s work and self-expression. Trained at the Yale School of Drama, Obi subsequently progressed to playing pivotal roles in film and television. For 3 seasons, he recurred as Bodie Wells on the television series “Dawson’s Creek,” and for 4 seasons he recurred as Rak’nor in the adventure science fiction series “Stargate.” As a physically transformative actor, extensively trained in yoga and multidimensional fitness, Mr. Ndefo took on a wide variety of physical roles in “Star Trek - Deep Space Nine” as the Klingon Drex, “Star Trek - Voyager” as Kelamane, along with roles in “The West Wing,” “NYPD Blue,” “The Jamie Foxx Show,” “Angel,” and “Third Rock from the Sun.”
As a writer, Obi had been 5 years into the development of a groundbreaking new multicultural television series entitled “Juice Bar,” which is centered around the world of the global health movement, the organic food movement, and our planet’s movement towards consciousness and inclusivity. The deeply uplifting series is in its pilot phase. Obi is the lead writer for the character-driven scripted series.
8 weeks ago, on the evening of August 17th, after shopping at Erewhon Natural Foods Market in Los Angeles, Obi’s body was struck by a hIt-and-run DUI driver moving full speed. Miraculously, Obi survived the impact, but his right leg was severed instantly, just above the knee, and his shattered left leg had to be amputated 30 minutes later at the hospital to save his life.
Through dramatic self-will and determination, Obi used his yoga abilities, commitment to vibrant organic vegan food, and his positive mindset, to not only heal and recover from the very violent incident, but to recently return to his life’s work of acting and writing.
Ironically, Obi’s new television series “Juice Bar” sought to offer transformative portrayals of diversity on television, with several characters who happen to be amputees! With an even deeper mission now to tell the stories of these “other abled” characters, staggeringly, Obi will now be playing one of the roles he originally wrote to be played by an actual double amputee.
In an emotionally moving turn of events from the universe, the above-the-knee double amputee is now Obi.
Obi’s family, community, and co-workers in the entertainment field are coming together to support both his survival, and his physical ability to portray these roles, and maintain his position as co-show creator and writer of this and other television series. Obi would like the exposure of his story and his work within media to be a vehicle/vessel for positive portrayals of diversity, multiculturalism, and inclusion.
Kathleen Kastner has a master’s degree in Exercise Physiology and has been practicing and teaching Ashtanga Yoga since 1997.
Talia Sutra: Born in Israel, Talia, along with her family relocated to New York early in her life. Curious by both nature and nurture, Talia was brought up by soulful, caring parents. She was first introduced to yoga and meditation at age 6, when her mom integrated these practices into her lifestyle to beat lymphoma.
Love has always been the flame lighting the way.
Talia sees nothing as external to her studies: She has learned impeccable skill and technique from masters of ballet, yoga and art. Equally, she finds sensitivity, intuition and insight are to be found through stillness, silence and connection with the seemingly ordinary world around us and that ultimately no teacher is greater than the one within.
Talia has recently relocated to Tel Aviv where she lives with her husband Ezra and their son Akiva.
She is excited, humbled and honored to spread her love of yoga worldwide and is grateful for all her teachers and students.
Henry Winslow is a dedicated yoga practitioner of nine years, whose teaching is rooted in the Ghosh, Ashtanga, and Dharma Yoga traditions. In 2018, Henry took first place in the International Yoga Sport Federation's world championships, and in 2019, he launched the Henry Yoga app, a 40-day program for anyone looking to get serious about yoga, no matter their budget or schedule. To Henry, yoga is above all else a tool for cultivating clarity. He credits his practice for attuning him to his own values and for lending him the courage to leave a safe yet emotionally draining job in pharmaceutical advertising and blaze a new path in yoga and entrepreneurship. Through live classes and workshops, the Henry Yoga app, and his podcast Dharma Talk, Henry empowers students worldwide to connect to their innermost selves, where our natural resilience, unlimited power, and universal compassion reside.
Vanessa Van Noy has been teaching in the NY metro area for nearly 20 years. She has worked with pro and collegiate athletes , people with physical limitations, and everyone in between. She specializes in creating practices that are fluid, functional and fun. She encourages humor&compassion, perseverance & perception , love &laughter. Her training as a Certified Thai Yoga Massage Therapist allows her to be very hands on in her classes, using touch as a way to deepen a posture or just show a little love.
Vanessa's classes are always a little bit different from the last. With music that motivates the body and lifts the spirit. Her class environment is conducive to laughing one moment, or discovering your true inner-self the next. It is always a flowing style, intelligently formulated to move toward some fabulous postures with comfort and ease. She will sprinkle some breath work, sometimes some Kundalini, being mindful of alignment and modifications to keep everyone safe while digging deep. Vanessa travels teaching workshops and retreats nationally, and world-wide. She also was selected for the Wanderlust festival in 2015.
Vanessa is the founder of “Headstands for Hunger“ a annual yoga-based community event that feeds hungry people and homeless pets in Monmouth County NJ. Taking yoga off the mat is where its really at.Robin's an Entrepreneur, working for doing good. Starting his career
as a hacker in 1998, he then founded Ejunkie in 2003, a service to
remove technology barrier for artists and authors wanting to sell
their digital content directly to buyers. Later that year, he moved to
Tucson, Arizona and continued to build Ejunkie.
Robin Singh: After successfully exiting in 2011, Robin started working to help
animals in February, 2013 starting in Auroville, India and then
Delhi. Realizing that the nature of welfare projects in India being
such that they can't be scaled by scaling the infrastructure, he
changed the strategy from just "doing" to involving and inspiring. In
December 2014 along with two other co-founders he started Peepal Farm
- a place for animals to heal, and be heard. He's been building it,
running it, and living there since.