Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Interview #4: Tara Esther Kleij

Tara Esther Kleij

47 years old
Andalucia, Spain

 Yoga is a way of life for Tara Kleij, who began the practice as a child living in the Auroville commune in Pondicherry, India. Now a busy mother of two, she shares the benefits of the raw diet by hosting health retreats throughout the year. You can find out more about these retreats at www.sunfoodyoga.com

 1. How long have you been practicing yoga? Did yoga lead you to raw food, raw food to yoga, or did they coincide?
 I have been practicing yoga since I was a child of 8 years old. My mother was my first teacher. We lived in a spiritual community in India in 1973 and meditation was part of the schooling system in that community “Auroville”. Yoga & Meditation became a way of life rather than simply a practice and ever since Yoga has been the main focus in my life, it has always guided me and helped me re-connect with a deep Inner Source. In my early twenties I met my second teacher: Clive Sheridan. From him I learned all about pranayama, breath control and containing Prana, life force energy. Over the years I have done many yoga trainings and Yoga & meditation retreats and have come across so many different approaches to yoga.

My Yoga became more and more intuitive, I tune into my body or into my class and feel what is needed. The breath is always an integral part of my yoga practice. Yoga is still what keeps me going every day again, it gives me so much inspiration, it is my life and I feel it is such a joy and a privilege to be teaching yoga to others, what a gift!  

Now I live in a Rainbow community in Spain with my two beautiful children where anything between 100 to 300 people share the  beautiful valley surroundings, blessed by clear spring water and secluded quiet calm away from noisy traffic We live in our own made yurt , tipi and tree hut. We have an outdoor kitchen and bathroom. We live a very simple life style here, very close to Mother earth. There are many communal gardens, growing our own veggies. Water comes from a spring, electricity from solar panels.

Here I started to get into raw food again after my experience in 1996, all the fruits and veggies looked so fresh and easy available that it seemed such a pity and waste to cook them. We started to have raw food gathering ones a week exchanging ideas on raw living in a modern world, food preparations, detox reactions etc. So I started to learn more and more about the benefits of raw food. I got inspired again in a new way! Especially how to prepare more gourmet raw foods: raw cakes and chocolates were my favorites. Now I am about 80% Raw and instead of having to be 100% like some of the raw food movement make you think, I really enjoy my diet very much, especially my smoothies in the morning are still such a treat with all the delicious super foods in them that keep me going for hours and fill me up with so much good energy! I feel so lucky to be able to live this way.

2. How many people in your community are raw foodists?
There are about 20 people that eat mostly raw. 

3. How long have you been a raw foodist? What type of raw do you follow now (high fat, low fat,etc).
My first introduction into Rawfood came in 1996 when I read the “Hay diet” book. It made so much sense about eating only fruit in the morning and not to mix carbohydrates and proteins. Just following this diet did already so much for my yoga practice, feeling much lighter and having more energy. In that time I also started doing periods of eating only raw for a few month at a time. I have always been fascinated by trying out different diets, also fasting a lot. I did a school for natural healing and learned so much about the healing effect of cleansing the body from the inside out! My mother was again a great teacher on healthy food. She was one of the first people in Amsterdam to start an organic shops and my father was also always into healthy food. He would make his own special tea’s with sjilajiet, ginseng, wheat grass and spirulina.

I have been a raw foodist since 2006 on and off, at times very strict and other times I flow more with it. I fast mostly in the morning, just drinking lemon juice and wheat grass juice , take my time for my yoga practice , then around 12 or 13:00 I will make a smoothie with Superfoods and later in the day make a big salad with avocado or a nut pate. In the evening often a raw soup, crackers, salad or sometimes some steamed veggies or quinoa.

4. What styles do you practice? Which style do you prefer? Why? Do you practice every day?
I teach a combination of Hatha yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Karma yoga and Jnana yoga and integrate a lot of partner yoga work in my classes. I used to prefer a very dynamic style, like Ashtanga. I also studied intensive trainings on Iyengar Yoga which is more about precision of each asana. More and more I enjoy Pranayama, tuning in to my breath and from there let my yoga practice flow. I practice in a very intuitive way. Every day is different! Now I am getting slowly towards my fifties I started to do also hormone yoga, which uses the breath of fire with different asanas. I practice nearly every day, it is my time in the morning to reconnect with my inner source. Even though I have 2 young children and running my own business with Yoga & Raw/ Super food retreats and workshops I need this time for yoga. 
5. How has being a mother affected your yoga practice and diet?
Both my pregnancies have been a wonderful experience, and giving birth too.
I have been doing my yoga practice the whole pregnancy through, even head stand! I felt great! During my pregnancy I have been eating also a lot of raw foods.

Being a mother makes me even more aware how important it is to keep up my yoga practice and eat healthy because it gives me so much more energy. I do see that I cannot control my kids and I try to give them the best food I can. They do not like to eat only raw foods, so I had to let go of that ideal!

6. What was your diet like before raw? Were you vegetarian/vegan?
 I have been a vegetarian nearly all of my life. My diet has always been very natural and pure.

7. Who has most influenced your diet?
Many different people, I think David Wolfe and Gabriel Cousens the most!

9. What was your transition to a raw diet like?
I had times when I just ate fruit and veggies in their natural state without preparation that was when I first got into it in 1996, later in 2006 I wanted to get my whole family into it and made all kind of gourmet raw food to inspire them.

10. How has a raw food diet affected your practice? Any benefits? Downsides? 
 I feel the raw food diet is perfect with the yoga together, it makes you feel light and lean and more flexible and you don’t need to waste too much energy on digesting your food.

9.      What is your take on salt? Do you include it in your diet?
Yes I take salt, Himalayan Crystle salt, not too much.

11. Many yogis follow an Ayurvedic diet. What is your take on the Ayurvedic diet? Is a raw food diet compatible? How do you incorporate Ayurvedic practices into your life?
I like to use spices and in the winter it can warm the body which is something we need in the winter when on raw foods.
12.   Do you find any particular fruit, vegetable, or combination affects your practice, either positively or negatively?
   I feel that everything in moderation is fine for me.

13. Do you include any other types of exercise in your daily routine, such as jogging or dancing? How do these activities affect your practice?
  I love bouncing on the trampoline, swimming and dancing. They only enhance my energy and yoga practice.

14.  Lastly, let’s play the Island Game, just for fun: You are trapped on an island for the rest of your life. It’s a magical island that grows only 5 types of fruit, but the fruit is always in season and always of top quality. What fruits grow on your island?
1. Mango
2. Blueberries
3.  Papaya
4. Banana
5. Lemon

15.  What is the best way for people who are interesting in taking a class from you to contact you?
Email works best for me: info@sunfoodyoga .com, or sign in for a  newsletter at www.sunfoodyoga.com

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