Yoga is more than a physical practice to lengthen those hamstrings and master that handstand. Through its focus on mind, body, and soul, yoga becomes a lifestyle. To learn more about how we can find our best selves through yoga, we spoke to the co-owner of New York yoga studio, YogaCare, Candice Miller.

Splendid Spoon: Hey Candice! Tell us a bit about yourself.

Candice: Hi! I’m Candice Miller: entrepreneur, foodie, yogi, and big believer in personal transformations. I co-own and run a yoga studio in NYC, YogaCare, and host a wellness program called the Full Circle.

I co-own YogaCare with my business partner, Ulises Calatayud. He’s been teaching and practising meditation, reiki, and yoga for over 25 years. I’ve learnt, and continue to learn, so much from him.

I absolutely love my work: it’s amazing to be part of the transformations and journeys our students go through.

SS: What’s your mission at YogaCare?

CM: We want to change the way people think about yoga. Our classes focus on mind, body, and soul, and how to balance these elements. We believe yoga is more than a practice: it’s a lifestyle.

YogaCare started in Mexico City 10 years ago. Like New York, Mexico City is a big, hectic place, and the hustle and bustle can wear you down. We try to help people cope with living in these crazy cities, and facilitate their transformation into their best selves.

Ulises brings so much energy and experience to the practices we offer: yoga, meditation, breathing, strengthening, and nutrition…. Everything you need to create the yoga lifestyle. All these parts come together to create our holistic wellness program, the Full Circle.

SS: When did you start practicing yoga and meditation?

CM: When I was studying in Australia I didn’t have health insurance, and had a bad flu bug. A friend (now my boyfriend of 6 years!) told me to take a bikram yoga class to sweat out the toxins.

I laughed at his suggestion. I couldn’t imagine working out while being sick — the exact opposite of what you’re told to do. However, I was desperate to kick the bug, so I tried it.

I still remember the moment in class when I could breathe again. I slept so well afterwards, could breathe through both nostrils, and had color in my face! I’ve been going ever since.

SS: How does yoga help connect mind and body?

CM: To make permanent changes to your lifestyle, you need to work mind, body, and soul in unison. You can’t change one element and expect it to have a lasting impact on your health. You can’t fix everything through a diet. A weekend meditation retreat won’t mean you’re forever grounded and calm. An intense boot camp won’t have an extended effect on your body. [So inline with our philosophy! It’s those small habit changes which make a big difference to your overall health. — Ed.]

To discover our best selves, we have to work on all elements of our lives. Everything has to function like gears in a clock: simultaneously and with daily commitment. Yoga helps turn those healthy habits into a lifestyle.

SS: If you don’t practice yoga, it’s easy to believe you have to be super flexible to start. How do you make yoga accessible to everyone?

CM: Everyone asks me this! You don’t have to be flexible at all! You come to yoga to become more flexible.

There’s no prerequisite fitness level to start taking yoga classes. It’s an inclusive and accepting practice, which is open to everyone of all ages, backgrounds, shapes, and sizes.

SS: What words or quote do you live by?

CM: Be present with the present.

SS: When do you feel most at peace?

CM: When I’ve worked hard in a yoga class, a dream-like sense of peace comes at the end, in the final savasana. Having said that, I also find peace sitting by my window on a lazy Sunday with some tea and chocolate cake!

SS: How do you incorporate mindfulness into your day, outside the yoga studio?

CM: I’ve learned several Tibetan breathing exercises, which I can do anywhere. This means things like crowded trains don’t bother me as much because I know it will pass. Don’t sweat the small stuff: it’s wasted energy! I can always come back to my breath to get grounded and stay calm.

Breath controls your thoughts, and your thoughts control your actions. Focusing on your breath enables you to stay mindful, no matter what situation you’re in.

SS: How do you stay grounded while living in NYC?

CM: I feel most grounded when I’m working with clients on the Full Circle Program: helping others through their transformations fulfills me in a way I have difficulty putting into words!

To learn more about YogaCare, and the Full Circle Program, contact YogaCare here.