Sunday, 23 August 2015

Rainbow eats & an abundance of joy.

Meet Amelia Whelan. 

A gorgeous veggie lover and yogi, originally from Long Island, New York that now resides in the tropical paradise that is Hawaii. 

She was kind enough to have a ‘chat’ with me recently on a few things like where her love of fresh, incredible vegan food came from and also her recent yoga teacher training abroad. 

Firstly, thank you so much for taking the time to sit down and answer some questions! It’s been a long time coming as I have admired your blogs and enjoyed your beautiful journey for a while now. Your two accounts are nothing short of inspirational. 
I’d like to start by asking how your journey started – Where you brought up vegan or was it something that you actively chose yourself as you got older?
Aloha! I am so happy to hear you admire my account and blog. People underestimate how special each and every little compliment can really make a person feel. I put so much time and effort into my brand and it is so incredible knowing that others enjoy following me on my life path. 

I was not raised vegan or vegetarian. At a very young age (6 years old) my oldest sister who was 13 at the time announced to my family that she was going to be a vegetarian. Anything my sisters did, I wanted in on. I bet her that I could do it for longer than she could. We joke now that the bet is still ongoing. When I moved to Hawai’i almost three years ago I began my journey through a plant based diet, which lead me instantly to veganism. I fell in love with the lifestyle immediately and felt very passionate about animal rights, equality, environmental conservation, and (at that time) the raw food movement. I educated myself immensely on the vegan and plant based diet through books, blogs, documentaries and online studies. I haven't looked back since, and have worked countlessly to encourage and educate others to follow me in this way of living.

From what I could imagine growing up in Hawaii would have to be on another level of special. The gorgeous weather, the laid back people? The fresh produce and of course the waves all set on the backdrop of what some people (and probably most residents) would argue to be heaven on Earth.. 
What is it about the Hawaii that makes life seem like such a dream life?

Unfortunately for me, I didn't grow up in Hawai’i. I am initially from a small surf town on the eastern tip of Long Island, New York and had never been to Hawai’i up until just about three years ago when I moved here to attend university. Although I had never physically been to the islands, I knew that my path was guiding me to Hawai’i. I applied to school, was accepted and moved to O’ahu just a few weeks later. I fell in love with the vibe here immediately. Leaving my home never felt so “right.” Here, I am surrounded by an inspiring, outdoorsy, unique and relaxed community of people who prioritize their days around the sunshine and the swell. “The Aloha spirit,” is a phrase used commonly throughout the islands. And although it is quite publicized and referred to, it is still so genuine and real to the inhabitants of Hawai’i. Men, women and keiki (children) who grow up here are of the most considerate, mindful and authentic people I have yet to meet. Hawaiians respect their ohana (family) as well as the land, the sea and the stars so immensely. Life here seems like a fantasy some days, because here on O’ahu I am able to turn my day dreams into dream days. I have learned to become more present, adventurous and thoughtful. I am more gracious and excited about many things that I would’ve once ignore while living on the mainland. 
Fresh fruit, delicious smoothies, decadent superfood bowls and epic salad combinations are just some of the amazing foods that you share on your second blog – @SaltSandandSmoothies.  All of the food is seriously mouth-watering and just looks like it would be providing you with almost effortless energy. 
Where do you find inspiration for the dishes you create? 
My inspiration comes from my surroundings here on the islands. Without a doubt. Lush greenery, abundant tropical fruit, warm climate and a seriously incredible palette of pure colors seen throughout nature has been the creative drive behind every recipe I produce. I am inspired by foods that are grown locally and picked, sourced or harvested by hand here on the islands. I am inspired by foods that are aseptically pleasing in nature and have me feeling my absolute best. I have most enjoyed spending hours on end at near by farmer’s markets test tasting new variations of fruit and learning more about the seasonal growing periods. I swear, most days I do feel like I have infinite amounts of energy! For me personally, there is nothing more beneficial than thriving off of an entirely plant based diet, rich in flavor and large in quantity. I eat amble amounts of health foods that make me look, feel and perform well. I feel so privileged to have discovered this pure way of living. 

More recently, you embarked on your 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training in Bali, Indonesia – I must say, it was fabulous to watch your journey for the two months you were over there. Bali is such a beautiful and peaceful place, definitely an amazing spot to do your training! 
Did you face many challenges during your teaching training?
Spending my summer in Bali was an absolute dream. My teacher training was an experience that permanently effected so many aspects of my life in such positive ways. I have grown and developed spiritually and physically in more ways than I could have ever imagined. That being said, yes, I did face challenges while undergoing my 200 hour certification in Ubud. Before traveling to Indonesia I was a very inexperienced yogi. I had only been introduced to yoga asanas (poses) about twelves months prior and was very uneducated with regards to yogic philosophies and beliefs. At times during my training I became overwhelmed by all of the information that was being handed to me. It took me a few days to relax my mind and work towards focusing on learning as much as I could now, knowing that I would continue to learn long after my certification course was over. Once I was able to remove all stress and anxiety from my mind, I found relief taking in as much as possible and accepting that I wouldn't be able to “learn it all.” The training course was also very difficult for me physically. I was sore for the first two weeks straight and felt a lot of emotional release and detox during this time period. But I was so glad that that was happening! I’d much rather be present and feel it all release than know it was continuing to build up inside of me. 

Your personal account @AmeliaWhelan is nothing short of stunning - it definitely seems like you are living your own dream life. You recently launched your website where you share some of your gorgeous recipes, outline a few of your personal health saviours and also offer your personal health coaching and yoga services. 
Any more big plans on the horizon or are you ready to settle into the life that you have set up through your studies? 
Yes! I do have a few more plans for the future. I have been experimenting with the idea of a YouTube channel or eBook, which I would hope to release during the next few months. I have also been working on new ways to share some of my self practices with fellow yogis over the web. I try not to get too ahead of myself, because I am very busy with all of the wonderful things I have going on currently in my life, but I am a creative person and am inspired by so many other people/brands/organizations, so I feel like I want to keep moving and stay active on the web and with my “following.” I am so content with my everyday life in Hawai’i. I wake up every morning excited and grateful for what lies ahead. That being said, I also feel a strong desire to continue to spread as much information and guidance as possible, so it has become a bit of an ongoing balancing act.

Yoga is a divine practice that leaves a lasting impression on whoever includes it in their life, I'm sure you could agree!

What is your favourite pose and why? 

My favorite pose currently is half pigeon pose or “Ardha Kapotasana” in sanskrit (I believe. Like I said, Still learning!) Prior to introducing yoga into my workout routine, I have always been a pretty avid runner. Because of this I hold a lot of strength in my calves and upper thigh muscles, but have exceptionally tight hips and shoulders. This asana allows me to focus on opening my hips and lengthening my hip flexors. Benefits of Pigeon Pose for me include stimulation of my internal organs and a deep stretch for my glutes, groins, abdomen, shoulders, chest and neck. Half pigeon Pose helps me to alleviate pain as well as to improve my posture. I have noticed that my overall alignment  has progressed since incorporating this asana into my daily practices. I’m not quite flexible enough to enjoy doing king pigeon pose just yet, but hopefully that changes for me within the next few months!

Mahalo Victoria for the thoughtful and energetic questions! It has been such treat to share a little more about myself with you. 
Thank you so much for taking the time out to answer my questions. It’s been an absolutely pleasure observing your journey on both of your accounts and I look forward to what the future brings for you!

Make sure you check out Amelia Whelan’s accounts: 


If you ever find yourself in Hawaii then get in touch with her! 

Salt Sand and Smoothies