Yoga teachers’ commitment to wellness, mindfulness, and balance often extends far beyond the mat. In fact, it can even show up in their grocery bags and refrigerators. While this may look like a bowl of greens and glass of kombucha, it can also look like a glass of wine and piece (or two...or three) of dark chocolate. “Philosophically, the core of the practice of yoga is to learn what works for you and honor that,” says Lauren Cohen, a yoga instructor in San Francisco. “In terms of nutrition and food, I believe in listening to your body, trusting what it wants, and giving it what it wants, within reason.”
Considering that yoga, from the poses to Instagram hashtags, can sometimes feel unattainable and exclusive, we were drawn to Lauren’s flexible, mindful approach that emphasizes moderation and nourishment. We sat down with Lauren, who teaches public and private yoga classes and leads international retreats, to learn about how she chooses to fuel herself.
Lauren: After my first few years of living in San Francisco working an intense corporate job and teaching yoga part-time, I decided to take a leap and start teaching full-time. I felt disconnected at my job but felt the complete opposite in the yoga studio. That transition was nearly three years ago.
I teach about 10 public classes per week at The Pad Studios, Equinox, Glow, and Yoga Tree, in addition to corporate and private classes. I would describe my classes as soulful vinyasa flow. I’m now focused on expanding my yoga offerings by leading retreats all over the world.
Lauren: Absolutely. I see food as fuel to do what I love, nourishment for myself, and an opportunity to connect with life, whether this is enjoying vegetables from a garden or having a deep conversation with a friend over brunch. I believe what we put in our bodies is the foundation for how we care for ourselves, care for others, and live life. I also enjoy grocery shopping, cooking, and exploring San Francisco’s culinary scene—this is one of my favorite parts of the city, outside of the yoga community.
Lauren: I eat mostly a vegetarian diet but I do enjoy fish, sushi, and eggs. I’m obsessed with sushi—I’ll never give that up! I would say my diet consists of a lot of greens, vegetables, fruits, beans, and the occasional piece of fish. I value eating high-quality, local, farm-to-table, and organic ingredients, too.
Lauren: Growing up, I never liked meat, so I never ate it. I’ve always preferred plants. When I started getting more into yoga, there was a point where I took things to the extreme. I tried to be vegan, but it didn’t work for me. I constantly felt depleted and had low energy. Looking back, I realize I was eating this way because someone else said I should. My journey with my diet is constantly evolving. But ultimately, I eat what I love and what makes me feel good. It’s a mindfulness practice.
Lauren: I have a sweet tooth and am a self-proclaimed chocolate addict! I love a glass of pinot noir, but find the sugar in alcohol impacts my sleep. But part of having a healthy relationship with food is having the occasional indulgence. I don't frequently enjoy sweets or wine, but when I do, I truly let myself.
Lauren: The moment I wake up, I drink hot water with lemon. Waking up with warm water is something that makes my whole body feel good. After an hour or two, I make oatmeal with a banana or berries, chia seeds, hemp seeds, a bit of almond milk, and a bunch of cinnamon. I also have a cup of green tea. Later in the morning, I’ll eat a piece of fruit as a snack.
Lunchtime usually looks like a big salad filled with roasted vegetables, a soft-boiled egg, quinoa or chickpeas, and avocado. I try get enough healthy fat and protein. A few hours later, I’ll snack on nuts, veggies and hummus, or a rice cake with avocado. Dinner varies each night, but a lot of the time I’ll make a vegetable stir fry with protein like tempeh or fish. I drink a lot of water throughout the day, though I prefer sparkling water and kombucha.
Lauren: I most frequently shop at Whole Foods, Bi-Rite, and the farmer’s markets at the Ferry Building and Fort Mason.
Lauren: Spinach, kale, apples, quinoa, avocado, garlic, lemons. And dark chocolate, of course.
Lauren: Terzo has a delicious calamari appetizer and some of the best hummus in the city. I love Nopa’s salmon dish, vegetable tagine, and any of their veggie side dishes or apps. I also like their chicken dish, though chicken is not something I typically eat. But if I’m with someone who orders it and they ask me if I’d like some, I’m not going to be like, “No, I don’t eat chicken.” I think anything to an extreme is problematic. I believe in moderation.