Getting to know Ruthie Cohen, Yoga Teacher, Grandmother, Care-Taker, Vegan Chef Extraordinaire

This month Vibe Yoga Studio (V) sat down with Ruthie Cohen (R) - virtually, of course - to find out what she has been up to this month, to learn what her yoga practice means to her and the role yoga has played in her life during this time of quarantine and social distancing.

V: What does yoga mean to you?

R: Yoga means diligence, discipline, and delight.

V: How did you begin your practice?

R: I began practicing 17 years ago to supplement my running and weight training regime. Guess what took over?

V: Why did you decide to become a yoga teacher?

R: Curiosity. I wanted to learn more and to share more. I wanted the discipline of a teacher training. And I wanted to do something scary. There’s nothing like being a newly minted instructor and standing in front of a room full of students to get your heart racing! Even after having taught well over 1000 classes, I get that jolt of excitement and anticipation every time I enter a room to teach.

V: What does your yoga practice look like these days? Do you practice with your family?

R: Ah, my pandemic practice! Since my daughter Arianna and her children have been staying with me, my practice is even more essential. Every morning, before Jordan, 3 ½ and Isabella. 1 ½ wake up, I roll out of bed and onto a stability ball. This is functional fitness at its best. When you are carrying a 25 pound toddler around you can’t afford to throw your back out! I go through a series of abs exercises on the ball, follow that with cat/cows, a few sun As and 10 pushups. Then I call my 93 year old mother in Philadelphia. I always dress in yoga clothes. On  days that I throw on sweatpants, I feel like a slug. My formal yoga practice comes later on, during my “break” when Arianna takes the kids out for a ride or a stroll. I put myself through a fairly rigorous sequence, adding 10 more pushups to my daily quota. When I practice alone and to my own rhythms, I can let my breath dictate the duration of a pose. Also, as a teacher who has been putting together sequences for some time, I am lucky that I can change things up and keep my practice both vital and challenging. After we get the kids to bed, and before we settle into a few episodes of Brooklyn 99, I  guide Arianna through a series of yoga stretches. If we are up past 9:30pm, it’s a late night!

V: Is there a principle or lesson of yoga philosophy that has stuck with you while in quarantine? If so, what and why?

R: The structure of our days keeps us grounded and steady. We are consistent in our schedule. We eat well. We are kind. We are living our yoga!      


V: What has quarantine taught you?

R: Humility. I feel like we have taken so much for granted!--our health, our invincibility, our American-ness!

V: Do you have a yoga book quarantine recommendation?

R: Well, it’s a podcast, actually. “Nothing Much Happens,” bedtime stories for grown ups.    Turns out the writer and reader, Kathryn Nikolai, is a Michigan-based yoga and meditation teacher! 

V: Do you have a non-yoga book quarantine recommendation?

R: Yes! Courtesy of my friend and colleague, our very own Isi Owens. “The Heart’s Invisible Furies” by John Boyne.

V: What is your quarantine go-to recipe?

R: Ah, you know me well. Of course I have a recipe!!! 

Beer Bread

          1 ½ cups all purpose flour

          1 ½ cups whole wheat flour

          ¼ cup brown sugar

          1 tablespoon baking powder

          1 teaspoon salt

          1 12 oz can or bottle of beer

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a loaf pan. Mix dry ingredients. Add beer, mixing until the dry ingredients are absorbed.  Spread into a loaf pan. Bake for 55 minutes.

(I bake a loaf every other day for my gang here. It goes quite quickly and it is almost too easy!)

V: Do you have any advice for those who are struggling with isolation right now?

R: Get up and get dressed. Try to give your days structure. Have something to look forward to every day, be it a delicious lunch,  a house project, or a good movie. Get in a brisk walk or bike ride when the weather is nice. And by all means, seek out your friends. Stay in touch. Do yoga.

Ruthie and Isabella
Clockwise: Arianna (Ruthie’s daughter), Ruthie, Jordan (Ruthie’s grandson) & Isabella (Ruthie’s granddaughter)
Ruthie and her granddaughter, Isabella.
Ruthie and Jordan