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Guru means teacher, so don't worry, I haven't joined a cult. I can't remember now how many years ago I first entered Red Lotus with the intention to practice every Friday. It's been a few years now; my friend Deb and I were just there yesterday. Before Red Lotus, I practiced yoga on and off for probably fifteen years; but without consistency, I never really knew what I was doing. My down dog was likely doing me more harm than good.

I'm still not as consistent as I'd like to be. My summer goal is to practice twice a week, either with Brian Granader, who owns the studio, or one of the many other wonderful teachers at Red Lotus. Six years ago, Brian was a real estate agent with the best record for selling in a five state area. He drove fast cars, owned several homes, made lots of money. He started taking yoga classes as a way to come down from his high-octane existence, but ended up in a place he never expected.

As laid back owner of Red Lotus in Rochester, Michigan, Brian has shed his hard-sell persona and many of his possessions for a simpler life, on and off the mat. I was curious about his unusual transformation. How—and why--does someone change their whole life? I got the chance to ask Brian about his personal journey when we sat down one sunny day to my first ever yoga meal.

Cindy: So, what’s a yoga meal?

Brian: It starts with gratitude toward all of the people who helped get this food on our plates: the farmer who grew the vegetables, the truck drivers who hauled it to this restaurant, the people who cook and serve, everybody involved. Then eat slowly, mindfully. Really taste the various flavors. Be grateful for every bite.

C: What prompted you to open your own yoga studio?

B: I was burned out. I taught yoga part time while still selling real estate and I wanted to get deeper into the practice.

C: Yoga seems more popular than ever. What is it about Eastern thought that’s so attractive to Westerners?

B: Yoga is a spiritual path that actually works. Results are quick and you only have to believe in your own personal experience rather than have faith in what others say.

C: How can present moment awareness help with daily challenges, compulsions, addictions?

B: Yoga can help you slow down enough to figure out healthy responses, to think about cause of stress and a suitable solution. Is the healthy response now to eat? To drink?

There comes a point when we feel thankful for creating these problems. Karma sees things blossom and I’m thankful I can move through them.

C: You always tell us to take yoga “off the mat.” Do you have any stories about people actually doing that?

B: Sure. A mom who takes my classes was driving with several screaming toddlers and was about to lose her cool. Then she started practicing Ujjayi breathing. The kids, curious, started doing it too. It shifted everyone’s mood to a more positive place.

C: What quality of practice is most beneficial?

B: Every other day is optimum, twice a week minimum.

C: What do you recommend for the once-a-week yogini who wants to take her yoga practice to the next level?

B: Put it in your schedule. If it makes you happy and healthy and more peaceful—why wouldn’t you do it more?


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