Lauren Imparato

We live in a world that is becoming increasingly more concerned with well-being. But that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily easy. Oftentimes people find themselves juggling between work, medicine family and friends, side effects a social life and the rare chance to find a moment to breathe. Of all the people that we’ve met recently, diagnosis Lauren Imparato, former Wall Street professional turned yoga teacher extraordinaire, understands this better than anyone. Creator of Retox™ Yoga and author of Retox: Yoga •Food •Attitude, we knew we wanted to sit down with the girl behind our favorite Ashtanga-based yoga class to get a grip on how to handle this crazy, modern life.

VF: What made you want to switch from Wall Street to Yoga?

LI: I was an athlete my whole life and I actually always hated yoga. I was a runner that ran 60 miles a week and was blaming everything for my stress and unhappiness—my boss, my boyfriend, my job. My boyfriend [now husband] asked me to go to a yoga class to relax and I got addicted and did it low key for a while. I helped my colleagues with stress management and back pain and how to eat. It became my thing.

VF: So how did that lead into having to quit?

LI: I eventually realized there wasn’t anything for ‘work hard, play hard’ people like myself that wasn’t hippie dippy. How do you keep it together in the context of your real life? That’s the question I was always trying to find a way to answer. In this same space, I was teaching groups for free and realized it was my passion and my boyfriend told me I needed to become this. I needed to make it my own. I honestly wasn’t trying to escape Wall Street; I just was trying to create something else. I eventually realized that I couldn’t balance it or do it full-fledged without quitting.

VF: Which leads us to Retox™ Yoga. What’s the timeline with that?

LI: I quit April 15th, 2009, threw a huge party on May 1st and opened the doors to my studio the next day. Wow—it’s 8 years in May!

VF: That’s awesome! How has owning your own studio, teaching classes and retreats taken away from things that used to stress you out while on Wall Street?

LI: What I’m doing is my child and it fulfills me in a totally different way to help people. I’ve done so many different things within this umbrella—cleanses and coaching, included. Nowadays, I guess you could say I’m less stressed about my purpose. I used to be so stressed if my classes weren’t full and now I know that people have lives and schedules—it’s not personal.

VF: If only we could all realize that things aren’t always personal. That’d be great! So let’s take it a step further. What’s your life’s mantra?

LI: I have two. First, I like to remember to say thank you to life, because even on the worst most horrible day, you’re alive and should be grateful for that. My second would have to be that you should learn like you live forever and live like you die tomorrow.

VF: Love those! So we know your mantras, what about your diet? What’s that like?

LI:  I eat everything. I used to be a vegetarian, quasi-vegan for eight years. Now I eat red meat three times a week, but I pretty much steer clear of chicken and stay away from pork altogether. I’m very conscientious about where fish come from and I need it to be sustainably caught and local in order for it to make it on to my plate. At a dinner party I’ll eat whatever—I’m not going to be that person. Whatever protein I choose, I typically portion my plate to be 2/3 veggies and 1/3 whatever else. I’ll never be the person that cuts things out fully—except pork—because, unless you have an allergy, I don’t believe in being restrictive.

VF: No restrictions, huh? Do you go into that in your book?

LI: Yes, I make it clear that it’s all about balance. Retox™ is supposed to go into your life instead of taking out of it. The food, the yoga, the meditation. Don’t change your daily life pattern, just insert into it.

Sound like the new life perspective you’ve been searching for? Be sure to pick up a copy of her book and schedule a Retox™ sweat sesh at 132 Mulberry Street in New York to see what it’s all about. We pretty much guarantee you’ll fall in L-O-V-E.

-Rebecca Norris