New York native Lilli Van Hall describes herself as a spiritual scholar. Her studies of various disciplines - philosophy, psychology and religion amongst others - support her practice in spiritual counselling, meditation and writing. Her private practice incorporates the tools and techniques gathered from years of teaching yoga in both Manhattan and Los Angeles. We caught up with Lilli to discuss how her artistic and literary heritage inform her writing, her advice for new yogis, and tips on the best restaurants, coffee shops and weekend hang outs in New York.
Q: Where are you from?
A: New York is my home of all homes, however, I have lived in Los Angeles and travel to see my family in Europe, the Middle East, and other small communities around the world.
Q: How do you define yourself?
A: I define myself by my energy. I spend my time writing poetry, teach, counsel, and study. In my experience, our rigid approach to identifying ourselves causes anxiety and stress. I see students and clients lose hope, self-punish, and isolate themselves based on a lack of self-worth when something they felt defined by fails. In my life death and the fragility of life has been my greatest teacher — we are a living force, until we are not, and in my opinion the clothing, job, social network, etc. matters for no thing when compared to unconditional love. I like the Maya Angelou quote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I do my best to look people in the eye, to be present, respectful, and sweet.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your work as a writer?
A: My poems are my absolute favorite form of writing, because they are most like a piece of art. On my website I write observations of the world, I write in a journal twice a day, I am currently editing a book I’ve written, and I keep small notes in little books for my poems. My grandfather was a senior figure in the publishing world, he was passionate, and intense. My grandmother and my mother are beautifully creative women who are in the purest form artists; they made my very young years rich in culture, travel, and interesting characters. My father used to say to me, “There is my truth, there is your truth, and there is the truth.” I always remember those words when I write. All words are subjective, and I’ve come to understand that my perspective may be exactly the same as that of a stranger, we just use different language to express it.
Q: What has yoga taught you?
A: I began yoga after school in the second grade to compliment dance classes. My grandparents and parents were very intellectual people so I was aware of cranial sacral work, reiki, acupuncture, and a lot of other therapies from quite a young age. My physical yoga practice taught me to embody, heal, and release energetic blocks. I think yoga was a link of sorts, something that brought me to myself and to the world in a new and more thoughtful way. Physically speaking my training has taught me to read a body, to be still, to open myself up and to protect my energy. I think yoga starts off a long conversation with your heart, mind, and body, and with a community.
Q: As a teacher, what is your advice to someone starting yoga?
A: Go slow. Listen. I always try to encourage students to find a teacher who speaks to them, but someone who treats them as an equal. I see yoga as a practice and process, one where we are all students and teachers, just human beings looking to evolve.
Q: What are your favourite yoga studios in New York?
A: I worked for Sky Ting Yoga and find their teachers excellent.
Q: Where can we find you when you’re not working? What do you love to do on weekends?
A: Since I moved to the Upper East Side I find myself reading in Central Park, visiting The Met, and writing in various haunts around the neighborhood. I like to travel on the weekend, go hiking, or explore my friends’ neighborhoods by Columbia or Brooklyn.
Q: How do you wind down?
A: I love old prints, architecture, and interior aesthetics. In the evening I do some artwork, reading, and meditation to quiet my mind.
Q: What are your favourite restaurants and coffee shops in New York?
A: In the morning, I grab a cappuccino at Sant Ambroeus on Madison. When I am downtown I do my best to hop into Cha Cha Matcha – I used to live a few blocks away and am very fond of their lovely staff, a group of very creative and talented people just waiting to be discovered. As far as restaurants go, I love to cook for myself, I find it rewarding and I enjoy the trip to the market. If I do go out, I like to sit alone early at Harry Cipriani, it feels sort of romantic on a Sunday evening. However, the best restaurant in New York is Pisticci.
Q: Do you have a great beauty tip you can share with us?
A: I love Tulura in Tribeca — Eileen is one of the kindest people I have met in New York and her approach to beauty and skincare is superb. The other tip my great grandmother insisted on was to brush your hair every evening one hundred times, braid it and wrap it up in a low bun to sleep.
Q: Finally, can you tell us what your favourite pieces of clothing are in our collection?
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