Anna Ferguson, vegan, yogi, and spiritual activist is revolutionizing yoga. A noted yoga teacher and co-creator of World Peace Yoga studio and Heärt Montessori in Cincinnati launches her Yoga Revolutionized Kickstarter campaign today, December 10. This woman is exquisite inside and out, and in terms of peace and happiness—we’ll have what she’s having. Enjoy our interview with Anna on her new book and make sure to check out and get one of the amazing rewards on her Kickstarter.
You’ve just recently published your book World Peace Yoga: Yoga for People Who Breathe, what is the premise of World Peace Yoga?
The premise of the book is to assist people to create peace within and create world peace. The sub-premise is that yoga and veganism are one and the same. Most people think of yoga as the postures and putting your leg behind your head. In reality, anyone that is practicing being conscious and aware of their daily actions is practicing yoga – and it’s important that we as vegans practice more aspects of yoga so we don’t get burn out and constantly be pulled down from the heaviness of life.
Why did you write this book?
I wrote this book to bring together the multi-faceted aspects of a yoga practice and to create a holistic, fun, colorful, and practical tool for living yoga on and off the mat. I was also inspired by Will Tuttle’s book The World Peace Diet. Will beautifully shares in his book the far-reaching implications of our food choices and the connections to various spiritual traditions. I feel my book is a lovely companion book as it outlines the actual practices, such as breathing, posture, and meditation techniques to maintain inner peace in a non-vegan world. I provide the self-care tools for dealing with the stress of everyday life so that we may be more effective in all that we do—as an activist, a partner, a mother, a co-worker, and on. My dream is that this book touches the hearts of those who read it so they may live more fully from a place of authenticity and realize the gifts they have to share with the world.
How might vegans benefit from a yoga practice?
Practicing yoga makes for a more peaceful and joyful vegan that is able to exercise compassion for all, humans included. When we are angry we point fingers and may even feel hate toward people. This leads to burnout and deeper angst and frustration. When we practice conscious breathing or meditation, it gives us the strength to pause before saying or doing something out of frustration or anger and to respond to the circumstances of life in a more calm way. This allows for a deeper connection with others and the opportunity to see things from their point of view.
How might a yoga practice assist with strengthening the vegan movement?
Through a consistent spiritual/yoga practice people make wiser choices and deepen their intuition. I believe this leads to more cooperation and collaboration amongst fellow vegans that are in the movement, as well the pre-vegans just coming into the movement. When we are working on ourselves to develop greater inner peace and are able to work in collaboration with others, rather than be in conflict with others, it makes for a more effective and stronger movement.
I recently did an interview as part of the Vegan Warrior Virtual Summit and listened to some incredible speakers that were interviewed. Something that really hit home for me was what Will Tuttle said, “When the vegan movement matures to the point where vegan activists are actually working on themselves and not trying to change the world, but trying to change who they really can change, which is themselves—authentically—to embody what veganism is, we will have a movement that is absolutely unstoppable.”
How are the various yoga postures connected to developing empathy and compassion?
In the various yoga postures, you become a dog, a cat, a cow, a mountain, a cobra, and other aspects of creation as a whole from elements to shapes to animals. Essentially, when we practice these poses, we are putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes, claws, hooves, wings, paws, fins, and so on, in an effort to empathize and understand our interconnectedness or sameness with others. The poses themselves are a method for developing greater empathy and compassion. At the same time, the poses can be quite challenging and they are a way to introduce stress to the body and practice handling that stress in a healthy way through deep breathing. This is a way to train our body to deal with stress in a healthy way, so that our natural response becomes a deep breath, rather than holding our breath, gritting our teeth, and tightening up our body to get through something.
Can you give our readers a glimpse of what your personal practice of yoga looks like?
My personal practice is always changing, especially now that I have a child in my life. My son Noah is 4 years old and once we are solid in a routine and in a groove, that quickly changes to something else. A glimpse into my day to day right now looks like…
- Drinking a large glass of water when I first wake up
- Having a cup of tea in the morning before Noah goes to school (without being on my phone or checking email – just having a cup of tea)
- 30-45 minutes of movement – it might be yoga poses or other form of exercise
- 5-10 minutes of seated meditation
- 5-10 minutes of lying my back and resting my legs against a wall
- And of course, a given is living a vegan lifestyle, which is a huge part of a yoga practice.
What are some simple things our readers might start doing today to begin a yoga practice or deepen their self-care?
- Before getting out a bed each morning, sit up and for 1 minute sit in silence – this is the start of a meditation practice – there is no right or wrong way to meditate – no required time of day or length of time – anyway you’re able, just start.
- Have a cup of tea, juice, water and let that be the only thing you do
- Remember to take a deep breath or sigh – get into the habit, so when stress arises that tool comes naturally
I think it’s also important to not get upset or frustrated that you’re not doing more (be it yoga practice, vegan activism, etc.), just keep practicing the small things and then you’ll do more…more time for self-care leads to having the energy to do more for others.