Friday, January 6, 2012

Interview #3: Fred Busch

Fred Busch
37 years old
Miami, Florida

Fred Busch founded the Miami Yoga Shala in 2001. He is author of “A Clear And Definite Path: Enlightenment And Health With Yoga And Holistic Living”, a book about the benefits of a raw food diet to the practice of yoga.

1. When did you start practicing yoga?
The meditative part, the Jnana part, when I was 14. But the asana part, the downward dog part, not until I was 24.

2. On your site, you mention that while you were traveling in Africa you got very sick and had some kind of spiritual revelation. Is this what inspired you to get into yoga?

I was traveling in Africa, and I got a life threatening blood parasite. But it wasn't a spiritual revelation really, it had nothing to do with yoga. Yoga wasn’t anywhere on my mind at that point. I was actually thinking about running really fast, really fast, and being alive. I was thinking about really using my body, really expressing the gift of having a body. I didn’t know at that point that yoga was what was going to allow me to do that. The yoga came later, after I went back to the States, when I went to a class with a friend. I went to that one class and knew that was it. Yoga was it.

3.What type of class was that, your first class?
It was an Ashtanga Vinyasa with Ryan Spielman.

4. You actually started the Miami Yoga Shala as an Ashtanga Vinyasa in 2001, before changing it to Power Yoga. What is the difference between Power Yoga and Ashtanga?
Ashtanga yoga is a set sequence with a guru named Patthabi Jois. There are no variations in Ashtanga, there are variations in power yoga and a wider spiritual range. There’s more emphasis on spirituality, safety, and alignment. But the same emphasis on breath, the same emphasis on flow.

5. Did you ever study with Patthabi Jois?
I’ve been in the same room with him, but I wouldn’t consider myself his student. 

6. Was that in Mysore?
In New York City, in 2001.

7. Was that when the documentary “Ashtanga NYC” was filmed? The one that happened at the same time as 9/11?
Yeah, it was a few days before 9/11. September 9th

8. So who would you consider to be your guru, or teacher?
There are many. But Swami Nithyananda.

9. You have a background in Ashtanga yoga. But you now teach your own brand of power yoga. Why?
People kept getting injured. They needed variations, modifications, which Ashtanga doesn’t offer or really approve of. I wasn’t willing to see people continuing to get injured.
It’s a lot more liberating when you’re not under a guru, under such a strict lineage, with all the sequence rules.

10. So when did you start getting into raw food?
1999. I had a roommate who introduced me, I thought it was crazy. But there is no argument for the subject of eating raw food. It’s absolutely, devastatingly true.

11. Who would you consider to be your raw "gurus", if anyone?
David Wolfe, Doug Graham, Robert Snaidach 

12.What was your transition like? How long did it take you to get to 100%?
I took my time, I wasn’t in a hurry. It took a couple months. It was easy for me. I’m a very logical person, once an argument is made that’s it. Even though I now eat some cooked food, there’s no argument against raw food. It’s so apparent there’s nothing to say about it.

13. How did going 100% raw affect your practice?
Overall everything gets better when you’re eating better. The key is the food part. My practice was great, and still is great. 

14. You travel a lot. In the past year you’ve been to Ecuador, Peru, England, and India. You’ll be teaching a workshop in Kenya in January. Was it difficult to stay 100% while traveling?
Most of those travels started after raw, but I still traveled a lot while raw. You just have to pack your food with you. I would bring a bag full of food from the States, mostly raw bars, stuff like that. Huge amounts of it. And I’d eat that, or fruit.
Eat to live don’t live to eat, right?

15. With all that traveling and teaching, is it difficult to find time for your own personal practice?
I’m a yoga teacher, I teach yoga for a living. Everywhere I go has a yoga studio. 
Of course my physical practice is not my spiritual practice, I just need to exercise my body. Sometimes I just practice while teaching. Of course I prefer private practice, when I can.

16. Your book about yoga and raw foods, “A Clear And Definite Path: Enlightenment AndHealth With Yoga And Holistic Living”, came out in 2006.  Were you eating a 100% raw diet at this point? 


17. Do you still feel that the ideas you expressed about raw food are true? 

Yes, absolutely. There is no argument against raw foods. Science is not on the side of anyone who eats cooked food.

(View my review of Fred's Book here)

18. You also run the South Beach Detox program. Does it encourage a 100% raw diet? 

Yes, it’s 100% raw.

19. How do clients feel about you supporting a 100% raw diet while not being 100% raw yourself?

They like it better, actually. When I was 100%, people thought I was like an alien or something. They thought I was really radical, and wouldn’t even listen to the more reasonable - mainstream advice. Now that they think I’m normal they listen to me more.

The key is not what I’m actually doing. It’s the information I’m giving out. If you give them the information, you’re empowering them to make their own decisions. Because it’s ultimately their decision, to either eat cooked food or not to eat cooked food.

And the thing is that most people don’t want to know what I have to tell them. They don’t want to know. That’s why you should never talk to people about food  who don’t want to know. I don’t even talk about food to people who ask me. I pretty much never talk about food.

20. It’s kind of like the passage in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika that says you shouldn’t tell people about yoga, you should keep it secret.

Exactly. Exactly. I even wrote a chapter in my book about the power of silence. Talk is cheap, if you’re going to do something you should do it for God.  Don’t do it for anyone but yourself and God.

21. So, now that you are eating cooked food, what are you choosing to include in your diet?
Emotionally satisfying vegan food, mostly.

22. What does that entail?
Sprouted bread, vegan cheese. They’ve come out with some vegan cheeses in the last year or so that are really awesome. I also do some veggie burgers. Simple stuff. 

23. Have you noticed any differences in your practice since you started to eat cooked food?
I drink a lot of E3Live. If you don’t know what that is you should definitely check it out. It’s a special thing; it needs to be seriously considered. It’s the lynch-pin to a lot of things. Because I continue to do that I don’t feel the negative effects of my diet.
I’m a yogi, so whatever I do I forgive myself 100%. But still, science is not on the side of anyone who eats cooked.

24. Do you see yourself going back to a raw food diet in the future?
I don’t talk about the future. 

25. What would an average day look like for you when you were 100% raw?
I’m a simple person. I like to eat the same thing every day no matter what.
In the morning I’d drink a coconut water. Then lots of E3Live until 2 or 3, then a salad with tahini dressing. In the late afternoon I’d eat some bars, then another salad, and then probably another bar.

26. How many calories would you estimate that is?
I never count calories.
The thing with me is that, once I’m 100% raw, the rest is totally irrelevant. I don’t worry about food combining, I don’t worry about calories. As long as it’s raw, I know my body is going to handle it. The last thing I’m going to get involved with is rules.
I just do what’s best for me.

27. So what does your diet look like now that you’ve incorporated some cooked food?
AFA/E3Live till 3pm. Then vegan Mediterranean food...or fruit... or bars. Dinner: vegan tofu or veggie burger. Also Izze sodas.

28. Just curious, why wait until 3pm?
I wait as long as possible. Breakfast is the worst meal of the day. Sometimes it is 1pm, sometimes it is 6pm. But I am always eating, green powder all morning and day.

29. Wow, how much of that stuff do you go through in a week? You must have to buy the big tub.
I don’t measure anything.

30. Do you incorporate any Ayurvedic practices into your diet?
Not really, no. If Ayurvedic people are telling you to eat white rice, or dairy, that just doesn’t make sense to me. Ayurveda encompasses an understanding of more than just the three body types. The overall view is obviously true, but when they’re telling you to eat stuff like that, I don’t think that’s true anymore. Especially the dairy thing.
But unless you do use ghee you don’t want to get deep into pranayama – those systems were designed for that. I don’t get into very deep pranayama, of course I do focus on breath in my practice, but not the deeper exercises. But I would never eat dairy in a million years unless I was dying. So I don’t do more than the simple stuff.

31. Do you include other exercises or physical activities?
Whatever is recreational for me. Of course, now that I live in Miami there’s not that much to do, recreation-wise.
My yoga practice can be more substantial than others. It’s not second series Ashtanga or anything, it’s not that intense. But I always include some good strength building poses.
That’s one thing with Ashtanga though, I don’t believe in days off. That’s my number one rule: NO DAYS OFF. With Ashtanga, you get like 6 days off a month, at that point why don’t you just quit? Days off of exercise are like the anathema of health. I guess if you do something else, some other kind of exercise on those days, you’re all right.
With other Ashtangis I knew, they still practiced on Saturdays, they just didn’t practice Ashtanga.  They liked doing that.
With Ashtanga it’s like, it’s a new moon, I don’t want to give thanks to God – because that’s what yoga is. Doing yoga is giving thanks to God. So why wouldn’t I want to give thanks to God on moon days?
So that’s what I really emphasize with my students: No days off. I tell them “You’ve already had your day off”. Of course, not everyone is doing 2 hours of practice. Some people just do 20 minutes and that’s good for them. Not everyone can be an Ashtangi.

32. The last question is just for fun: let’s play the Island Game. You are trapped on an island for the rest of your life.  The island grows just 5 fruits, but it’s a magic island and the fruits are always in season and always of top quality. What do you choose to be on your island?
1.      Cherimoya, definitely #1
2.      Mango
3.      Avocado
4.      Coconut
5.      Banana

Thanks very much Fred for taking the time for this interview! 

You can purchase Fred's book, "A Clear and Definite Path", here

 For private lessons or information about the South Beach Detox program, you can email Fred at

For information on upcoming workshops or Fred's Hot Yoga Teacher Training, go to 

You can read more about Fred's raw journey and his thoughts on yoga on his blog

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