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Interview: Jody Vassallo

by Bonnie Gill
20.02.2020

Meet Jody Vassallo – Jody will be hosting a 50-hour yin training at the studio and we couldn’t be more excited! Jody is an Ayurvedic practitioner, yoga teacher, food writer and stylist – that’s a pretty sweet lineup if you ask us. We spoke with Jody about all things yoga, food and what to expect at this year’s yin training.

Jody, tell us more about your current yoga teaching style and how that came about?

I have been teaching a meridian based yang style yoga called KI yoga for 17 years and I have always been incredibly passionate about the benefits of it. When I discovered yin yoga 6 years ago, it was like I’d found a missing piece to my 5 element meridian puzzle. 

I felt compelled to share the knowledge I’d gained from years of studying and teaching so I put together a 50hr yin yoga teacher training. I taught this training in Bali for the first year but then decided I wanted to bring it home to Australia. People have such yang, active, competitive, busy lives these days and I think it is essential that people learn to rest and yin yoga is a wonderful practice that allows people to slow down. 

We’re very excited to have you at the studio this year for the 50-hour yin training. What can interested teachers and yogis expect?

Firstly, I’d like to say this is more than a yoga teacher training. One can’t dive into the 5 element system without discovering “hidden stuff” about themselves. 

Yin yoga encourages us to hold poses and simply listen with awareness to our bodies and what they are trying to communicate with us. Students will learn the 26 basic yin poses, how to teach them and how to sequence them. We will discuss the history of yin yoga and how it was developed by Paul and Suzie Grilley into a yoga that is now known around the world. They will learn how yin yoga affects the connective tissue, joints and parasympathetic nervous system. 

Finally, they can prepare themselves to fall in love with the Five Element system. I’m certain they will want to keep learning about it beyond this training. I’ve been studying it for nearly 2 decades now and I’m yet to tire of the magic of it.

You have one of the most impressive bios this foodie has ever read! What sparked your interest in food and cooking when you first started, and what keeps the excitement there now?

Food wasn’t really on my radar when I was younger. I moved out of home when I was really young and I had a very limited budget for food after rent and bills were paid so most days it was – steamed vegetables with lemon or salad. I’ve always just loved to eat simple and healthy. Once I started travelling in my twenties I fell in love with Asian cuisine but it wasn’t until I had a car accident that meant I had to stop my massaging job that my life fully became all about food.

My sister was good mates with Donna Hay. Donna used to tell me how much she loved her job and suggested I go to TAFE and enrol in the same Home Economics course she’d done and then when I’d  finished I would be able to work with her. This was way before she shot to fame. So, I enrolled in TAFE, started working with Donna in the Family Circle Step by Step Kitchen as the hand model, then started recipes writing, styling and then worked my way up from there. 

Food is my life now. I eat, sleep and breathe it. Travel keeps me inspired and my Ayurvedic journey opened the door into the world of spices and that truly is where I feel most excited. Creating recipes using spices for their therapeutic benefits. Fennel is my best friend at the moment, it’s such a wonderful spice for digestion, pop in some hot water and drink it as a digestive tea. 

You have collaborated with some incredible names – Jamie Oliver and Bill Granger to name a few. What are some other highlights you’ve experienced in the kitchen (or outside!) throughout your career? 

There have been so many times where I’ve just wanted to pinch myself about the wonderful places I’ve been and the superb people I’ve met. Being able to do a job I love for 28 years that has taken me around the globe numerous times is just amazing. Launching Jamie’s Ministry of Food Trucks and Centres in QLD and Victoria and working with Jamie has been a dream come true. Jamie’s the most extraordinary human and the good he does in the world is just bhakti yoga in its truest form. 

Working as Food Director at Murdoch Books for 8 years when it was the most successful cookbook series in the world. Writing my 7 Marie Claire style series cookbooks.

Creating Farmer cookbook last year with some of the most respected chefs in Australia, wonderful people in my industry and farmers from around Australia. So far it has raised over $300k for farmers in drought and I’m still humbled by the kindness in humans and their desire to help those who are struggling.

Following this, I started my own publishing business and created a series of cookbooks for people with specific dietary requirements. This was back when there were no gluten-free or diabetic cookbooks to be found. I wrote, styled, art directed and published 17 books in 4 years and that series won the Best Healthy cookbook series in the World Gourmand Awards. 

Other highlights include writing and styling my cookbooks Beautiful Food & The Yogic Kitchen, styling the food on Chris Hemsworth & Elsa Pataky’s app, Centr.

Running my Women’s Wellness retreats which incorporate yoga, food and Ayurveda.

Being a yoga teacher for the past 17 years and now creating Yoga teacher training courses where I get to share my passion for yoga, five elements, food, Ayurveda and wellness.

What are some tips you might have for a kitchen novice looking to branch out?

Keep it simple. Often when people start in the kitchen they want to be super fancy and they try to put too many flavours in the mix and it can go pear shaped quickly.

Buy cookbooks from trusted authors, often people think they can’t cook but the truth may be that the recipe has never been tested and it just doesn’t work.

Do some classes, get some hands on experience, cook with friends. Make it fun and only cook things you enjoy to eat.

To find out more about our upcoming 50-hour yin training, follow the link.