For Sophie Green, art and yoga are a perfect pair.
Raised by yogi parents, she has been a devotee of the ancient practice essentially from birth. But she always saw art as her path. In college, she studied art history and, after graduation, she worked for a stint at a Montreal museum. That wasn’t her calling.
That’s when Green began to re-imagine the role of art in her life: she returned to school, earning a master’s degree in Art Therapy at New York University. Afterward, she got certified as a yoga instructor and enrolled in intensive study.
Now intimately acquainted with both meditative practices, she saw how combining them could benefit her students and clients. She fused her two areas of expertise.
Then, on a trip home to Toronto during the summer of 2013, she noticed an absence of cold-pressed juice vendors. So, along with a team of friends and family, she co-founded Greenhouse Juice Co., focusing on yet another wellness category.
Here, Green tells us how she finds time to take care of herself, while making the world a slightly less stressed, more cold-pressed place:
Live The Process: Have you always had an active lifestyle?
Sophie Green: Well, my mother is a yoga teacher and my father is very active and practices yoga too, so it’s pretty much always been a part of my life. Growing up, my parents believed that traveling was the best education. We spent two months every summer in a cabin on Smoke Lake in Ontario that had no electricity. I continue to spend as much time as possible up there during my summers. These experiences have ingrained in me a deep-found appreciation for nature and have shown me the importance of disconnecting from all that comes with living the busy city life. For the precious days that I am at the cabin, there is no choice but to live a much simpler lifestyle: there is no electricity to charge our electronics, and days consist of doing yoga, swimming and reading. Our dinner has to be cooked over the fire.
The importance of living an active lifestyle has definitely been passed down to me from my parents, who embody the idea that health should always be a priority. I briefly lost touch with my yoga practice at the University of Edinburgh, but, after moving back home and having the convenience of a mother as a yoga teacher, I quickly got back into it and have been at it consistently ever since.
LTP: When and how did you combine your love for yoga and art therapy?
SG: After completing my undergrad in Edinburgh, Scotland, I moved home to Toronto and started thinking seriously about what I was going to do with my life: I knew I wanted to keep art in my work. I had worked with children and with an art therapist and really enjoyed that, so I applied to the master’s program in Art Therapy at NYU. They accepted me and I moved to New York, to begin acquiring art therapy experience at Lenox Hill Hospital. I really relied on yoga during this period, as it became my own therapy, and I needed to release all the stress from living in New York and working towards earning my degree.
After I finished my art therapy internships, I decided to become a certified yoga instructor, so I enrolled in the four-week intensive teacher training at YogaWorks. I did this with the intention of integrating yoga into my art therapy. I saw the potential of using various breathing techniques and other aspects of the practice to help calm and focus my clients.
I then began working at a private practice that provides academic and therapeutic services on the Upper West Side. One of my patients was the perfect first student with whom I could begin intertwining yoga and art therapy. We were both in a learning process with yoga—she as a student and I as a teacher. I started teaching her mother yoga too and realized how much I really loved being a yoga instructor. This experience inspired me to complete my 300-hour, six month-long training course.
When I finished in February of last year, I had completed 500 certified hours between that course and the one I had taken at the end of my internships. All the while, I was still practicing art therapy at an outpatient substance-abuse center for adolescents in Manhattan and with home schooled private clients. I now also teach yoga at Sync studio in Brooklyn. I just led a healing arts workshop there with a friend of mine from my Art Therapy program last month, where we integrated aromatherapy, yoga and art therapy into a single session. My days are an awesome combination of art and yoga, and I love it!
LTP: What inspired you to open Greenhouse Juice Co. in Toronto?
SG: Greenhouse Juice Co. is a collaboration between a group of friends and family with deep roots in the Toronto community. Most of us, while living in New York and Los Angeles, discovered the healing qualities and revitalizing power of cold-pressed juices. During our frequent trips home, we realized there was a great opportunity in Toronto for organic, cold-pressed juices and, with a shared commitment to health and environmental awareness, we decided to bring the concept to our hometown. We have felt very grateful for the positive reception we’ve received since opening in January and I am very excited to see what the future holds for Greenhouse!
LTP: You have so many varied passions and commitments—how do you make time for them all and also space for yourself?
SG: Managing my time effectively is definitely the most important aspect of juggling all my passions and commitments, while still allowing time and space for myself. I feel very lucky to have been able to fuse so many of my passions together into my daily routine and, due to the nature of my work, I am also able to create my own schedule. As much as possible, I block out time to attend yoga classes, which are important to me for unwinding, disconnecting and feeling inspired. I treat these classes as appointments and make sure that they are a part of my schedule as frequently as possible.
In particular, art therapy work can be quite intensive, so it is critical that I constantly check in with myself and allow time to process all that work. Although I travel quite a bit to Toronto for Greenhouse Juice Co. and work full-time in New York, I always manage to find time for myself or, almost as important, time with friends! It is all about finding the right balance—working hard, playing just as hard.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
SG: Happiness is balance in my life. Feeling satisfied in my work and having time to myself to do my own art and spend time with my friends. I love when an art therapy client comes in very stressed, but, after our work together, leaves a little less so. It’s all about the process and not the outcome. The same goes for my yoga students: one of my teachers once told me that your students won’t remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel.
LTP: What does it mean to you to "Live The Process" and how do you do that every day?
SG: It means to be in the present moment—not miles ahead, striving for the end point. In my work, it is all about the process, and I am lucky for that because it is a constant reminder of that principle. Still, in many situations, having expectations can take you out of that. It can be easy to forget when I am not teaching yoga and working with my art therapy clients; I must constantly remind myself to be in the process of it—to be in the present moment—and to infuse that belief into all aspects of my life.