Today I want to share with you my exclusive interview with Mr. Aaron Hoopes, the founder of Zen Yoga and author of Zen Anti-Diet. Mr Hoopes has dedicated much of his life to assist people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, to achieve better health, peace of mind, and harmony through diet, movement and relaxation, three soothing elements we all ought to incorporate in our lives. Here is the interview:
E. Who is Aaron Hoopes?
A. After studying Japanese history, language and culture at Tulane University, I moved to Japan and spent 3 years studying martial arts and Zen Shiatsu Massage Healing. I spent another 9 years in Australia studying alternative medicine, yoga and martial arts. During this time I founded Zen Yoga, a blend of Tai Chi movement, Qigong breathing and Shanti Yoga.
When I returned to the US I began working with an endocrinologist on the Yale Board of Medicine at his mindful medicine facility, Beyond Care in Connecticut. Many of his patients had diabetes and my job was to create a program for them to breathe, stretch and move, taking into account any physical limitations as well as not raising stress levels.
My Zen Yoga program was perfectly suited to that. Proper breathing activates the metabolism while gentle movement assists the circulation of energy through the body. A simple practice for 20 minutes a day can bring profound changes in a short period of time.
E. You are the founder of Zen Yoga. What is Zen exactly?
A. Zen is a philosophy of living in the present moment. It is a practice of moving away from the attachments of the past and the imaginations of the future and living fully right now.
Mindfulness training brings a wonderfully alive quality to life. It allows us to coordinate body and mind so that they function to the best of their ability. When the body is healthy and the mind is calm and clear it creates the fertile ground for our spiritual nature to grow and develop.
E. You are the author of several books, among them, “The Zen Anti-Diet“. Can you explain our readers the concept of this book?
A. The Zen Anti-Diet is a book on mindful eating. It takes the principles of mindfulness and places them squarely on the dinner plate.
Learning to truly pay attention to what we are eating can open a whole new dimension to understanding the self. The book provides simple tools and exercises for implementing mindful eating skills in daily life. I am building a Zen Anti-Diet Community with forums and advisers to help people get a hold of their eating habits and make positive changes in their lives.
E. Your book “Zen Yoga: A Path to Enlightenment through Breathing, Movement, and Meditation” seems the perfect subject for people with diabetes as this health condition causes a lot of stress in the mind and the body. Where can people obtain this book?
A. The book is the reference guide I use in my online fundamentals course and creates a foundation for getting the body healthy and the mind calm. When combined with the Zen Yoga Daily Warm-Up DVD it is a complete program for physical health and mental serenity.
E. You teach in-depth courses at your Retreat and Wellness Center in Vermont, can you tell us more about this retreat?
A. My studio is a converted barn in a farmhouse on the top of a mountain that has been in the family for 50 years. It sits on 150 acres of ledge, fields and woodland. We teach yoga, tai chi, qigong and martial arts programs as well as nature retreats that focus on healing our relationship with the Earth.
My wife and I have been practicing plant and animal spirit healing for many years and we conduct traditional shamanic ceremonies that help people reconnect with nature. We hold 3-5 group retreats each year and also offer private retreats for couples or individuals by appointment. Ledge End Website
E. You have had a busy life, what else do you do?
A. I spent many years traveling and teaching. I taught hundreds of workshops in the US, Australia and Japan. I now spend my days with my wife, Elfeya, living in harmony with the natural world. I tend my vegetable and zen gardens, train and teach Zen Yoga and martial arts, write books, and work to help people feel better in body, mind, heart, soul and spirit.
My Blog: Wandering Sage Wisdom
Thank you very much, Aaron
Emilia Klapp, RD, BS