Maili: For me, both yoga and cooking are alchemy. Tapas is a Sanskrit word which means,’to heat’. It is the fire of transformation, of dedication. Both preparing healthy food and maintaining a yoga practice involve steady discipline, wisdom and love. Yoga is to heat from within, to ‘cook’, our body, heart and mind to become tempered in the fire of our spiritual practices. Cooking, also transforms from within, as we are what we eat, and also how we eat. How we eat means taking the time to sit for an unhurried meal and chew your food really well. Like yoga, our diets are dependent on our personal situation and there is no one size fits all.
HolyMama: Tell us a bit about your style of cooking, how would you describe it?
Maili: My style is: a green, a bean and a grain, a root, a round and some leafy. Add in a ferment, a raw, and a sweet. If I have all those components in a day I know I feel amazing. I like to cook for the conditions of the moment. I like to see what I need and address that. If it’s cold, I will cook stews and warm, comforting foods. If it’s hot I use more of the quick, bright energy foods like fruit and sprouts. Looking at the seasons, you can see nature provides us with the foods to eat that complement the season we are in. So, I eat with the seasons and of course, as locally as I can. If I am feeling lethargic or heavy I will steam and use lighter cooking methods. If I feel spacy I might eat something fried and oily to ground me. Food is alchemy.
HolyMama: Do you think a Macrobiotic diet works for every body?
Maili: Yes. Macrobiotics is based on a healing modality that has its ancient roots in Ayurveda. More recently in Chinese medicine and the principles of yin and yang. Macrobiotics does not demand that one eats all the Japanese condiments, though they are so wonderful. Macrobiotics is about eating in harmony with the elements within and without to promote optimal well-being. Eating what is whole and not processed. So, many traditional diets from around the world are held in this wisdom. An Inuit diet high in fat and raw meat is macrobiotic to their environment. According to macrobiotics, one eats to ones age, condition, dreams, desires, environment. It is just common sense. And chew your food well!
HolyMama: What are simple ways to incorporate more healthy foods into your diet? (even if you are a busy Mama!)
- Use one afternoon to pre-cook a grain, a pasta and a bean, cut some veggie sticks, prep some broccoli, some other veg, pre-wash some lettuce and make a couple dressings. Then you have it in the fridge for a few days and can combine things to make quick meals on the go.
- Make soups.
- Keep junk food out of the house.
- My personal trick to make myself eat well is to pack my fridge with fresh vegetables and fruit. Then eat it before it goes off. Seriously.
HolyMama: What are 3 accessible foods/ingredients you would recommend to incorporate into your diet?
- More steamed or boiled greens as well as or in place of salads as a side: kale, collards, sui choy, bok choy, swiss chard, mustard greens, dandelion greens, mizuna, amaranth and there are more!
- Cabbage. It is a proven anti-carcinogen.
- Fermented foods like miso, tempeh, natto, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir etc. They each have different excellent benefits but a common thread is to keep your gut healthy by providing probiotics.
HolyMama: What is your go to meal that is easy to prepare and nutritious?
Maili: Udon or spiralized zucchini noodles in soup or in a stir-fry.
HolyMama: Whats a ‘myth’ associated with healthy eating that you would like to set straight:
Maili: Thats it’s boring, or lacking in flavour. We are accustomed to over salted, over-sweetened, chemically flavoured food often made with bad oil and even rancid flour or milk. It can take a moment for the palate to re-adjust and become subtle.
HolyMama: Where do you find inspiration in the kitchen?
Maili: These days I am so inspired by fermenting foods and sprouting. Opposite ends of the live food spectrum! I am always inspired by beautiful, fresh food. As well, I just got given a Thermomix, a spiralizer and a dehydrator so I am playing in the kitchen!
HolyMama:What do you love most about working on HolyMama retreats?
Maili: I love that hard-working Moms get time to rest and relax. I love the moment when the Moms let go a little when they realize all their needs are taken care of. I love the joy they express at being able to spend connected time with their little ones playing and not having to do any chores. I love the not always easy but ultimately joyful journey as Moms get a little self-love time doing yoga, getting a massage or drinking wine with each other.
HolyMama: How would you describe your yoga teaching?
Maili: Yoga changed me from the outside in and back again. Every arm of the practice has supported me in my life at one time or another from philosophy, to meditation to the poses. Yoga has taught me that I am capable of more than I thought and to not set limitations and to rest in the unknown. Yoga has taught me radical trust, patience, perseverance, dedication, compassion and the power of community. The community of yogis around the world whom I have studied with, practiced with and call my friends are bright, curious, compassionate and each full of individual sparkle. I am constantly amazed at the generosity of the practice. It gives and keeps giving to you if you are open to receive. I hope my teaching reflects my love and devotion to yoga. I hope I may share or facilitate on a tangible level, in a way that people can experience for themselves that yoga is a practice to transform your life on all levels. I also hope my teaching reflects my voracious curiosity and appetite to keep learning. I teach to learn. I hope my teaching helps!
HolyMama: What is your favorite part about teaching yoga to Mama’s on retreat?
Maili: I like the Moms getting to experience a more playful, unhurried me. Yoga teacher Maili smells better and wears nicer clothes than chef Maili! Also, I love that for some moms this may be the first hour and a half they have had away from their child, doing something that is only for them. For many this is their first class in a long time though they may have once been regular practitioners. A powerful experience that I am grateful to be a part of.
HolyMama: Your inspirations on the mat?
Maili: Ah, dedication and beginners mind. Endeavoring to ’not know' what will happen in my practice. This means not setting limitations or expectations for myself. Not telling myself I cannot do something. Maybe today is the day. Nor having expectations and insisting to myself if the practice doesn’t look a certain way I have not ‘accomplished’. Knowing, as one of my teachers says,’ that the key to next room is in the room I am in.'
HolyMama: You are currently based in Ibiza - what is your favorite thing about living on the island?