Age 33 on the trail with fruit friend, Mandarin
Hello, I'm Aimee Takaya. I'm a Certified Hanna Somatic Educator, a Yoga Teacher of 10+ years and a creative self-taught chef.
I'm here to help you release years of accumulated tension that has been getting in the way of you living with grace and ease.
I'm here to support you in taking intuitive and informed steps towards better wellbeing by examining the relationship between the food you eat and how you feel.
I have spent the majority of my life experimenting with the connections between what I consume and what I experience.
I am delighted when I find there is scientific evidence that has been uncovered and can help explain the phenomenon of my experiences!
I deeply respect the scientific process and the intuitive, sensing capabilities we all possess. I believe we can find meaning and truth within ourselves by honoring these dual processes.
For me, my health restorative journey began with food sensitivities and a health crisis.
The Expansive & Restrictive
I spent a significant part of my middle childhood years adolescence struggling with food sensitivities and various health challenges (early onset puberty, hypothyroidism).
I discovered yoga at 19 after a spiritual awakening and subsequent health crisis that manifested as a psychotic break and 10 days in a psyche ward.
(For more on my spiritual awakening, see THIS PODCAST episode)
I became dedicated to taking care of myself, which at that time meant practicing yoga, removing dairy, gluten and soy from my diet and abstaining from intoxicants
It was around this time that I first felt intuitively drawn to becoming vegetarian/vegan.
I learned to prepare creative and delicious meals that were satisfying and nourishing. I took Indian Cooking classes, dabbled in Raw Food Cuisine and created/sourced recipes to accommodate my allergies while also being delicious.
about struggling with, Early-Onset Puberty, Hypothyroidism and food sensitivities!
Why diets and restricted eating DON'T work and what I teach instead...
While I was healthier than I had ever been (at this point in my life), eating this way had it's challenges, the biggest for me was feeling isolated and weighed down by restriction.
In 2011, after completing a 500 hour Bikram Hot Yoga Training, I began a full-time career as a traveling yoga teacher. I enjoyed the privilege of visiting 28 different countries and teaching in 13. It was an exciting time in my life and met so many amazing and wonderful people whom I treasure to this day.
During this time, I still struggled with my health and my habits. While I had great discipline sometimes, I frequently felt deprived and wished that I could "be like everybody else" and eat at restaurants etc.
Age 21 with my Chai Chocolate Vegan Cheesecake
I was also quite deep in the habit of forcing myself to do things. I would get caught up in these dualistic cycles of "being good" and "being bad", punishing or rewarding myself.
My diet, while quite restrictive was not always healthy. Traveling meant adapting to the eating styles of different cultures and meeting new people meant socializing, often around food. I ate a lot of french fries and wimpy salad. I wish I had been in the habit of eating more fruit! I also started enjoying substances again, mainly alcohol and bouts of cigarette smoking. Whenever I would have a bad experience or make myself sick, I would swear off. These patterns were part of a good/bad dualistic paradigm that I seemed to be stuck in.
Of course, when I had the opportunity of a kitchen and open minded companions I would share my unconventional cooking style and skills.
2013 in Ecuador, fresh off a 90 day hot yoga challenge. Our bodies can learn to do impressive things!
Yoga was essentially my life. I was addicted to my hot yoga practice because of the trauma surrounding my awakening and the fear of mental illness. I became obsessed with my hot yoga practice. It was my anti-drug, anti-depressant, painkiller and my best friend. I remember frequently thinking: "I can't stop doing Hot Yoga, if I do, something bad will happen to me."
I was obsessed. I did 30 day, 60 day, 90 day challenges while teaching 8-12 classes a week!
I was chasing a dream of an effortless, peaceful experience by working my body relentlessly.
Due to this obsessive behavior and my functional predispositions, I acquired injuries, the most reoccurring and excruciating one in my left hip and leg.
I did everything I could to resolve this pain: hip openers, deep stretches, correcting poor alignment, massage, acupuncture, grinding a rubber ball into my buttcheek. Some things seemed to help in the moment yet, make the pain worse later. I was confused and discouraged. I felt ashamed of being a yoga teacher who could not resolve her own pain.
Miraculously, my father had been training and becoming certified in Hanna Somatic Education (HSE). I called him from Norway and Luxembourg during some of the most physically painful times and he kept insisting I do this sequence of slow, gentle movements. I thought they were boring, but I did them. They were very effective. At one point I did the sequence twice a day to be able to walk up the stairs to the yoga studio and teach or practice without wincing on every step.
I believed the pain was there to punish me. I understand now the pain was my body calling me to be a gentler, kinder and more compassionate human.
Back Home to Heal
In fall of 2016 I came back to U.S. to help care for my grandmother living in California. After 9 years of highly restricted eating, I began to slowly add back into my diet dairy, soy and gluten. I found my food sensitivities had vanished! The chronic pain in my left hip and lower back persisted. My somatic movement practice was inconsistent even though, when I did the exercises I felt better. I had not yet committed to a daily practice. During this time, I was able to receive dozens of Hanna Somatic sessions from my father. I enrolled at The Novato Institute to learn from Eleanor Criswell-Hanna, the collaborator and widow of Thomas Hanna, the father of HSE.
Over the next 4 years my life changed immensely. I fell in love, became pregnant and attended a 200 hour Yoga training during my pregnancy. I began teaching flow, prenatal and restorative yoga along with somatic movement.
2015, limping around London, looking for an acupuncturist and eating chips to self-medicate (I still had a good time)
became committed to a daily somatics practice and watched my chronic pain and tension slowly fade away. With it's departure rose a sense of balance and joy in my body that I had never known.
To clarify, it's not that I had always felt lousy in my body. Before the chronic pain, yoga felt amazing, even when it was hard. It was stimulating, sensational and spiritually engaging. There we times I felt strong, powerful and coordinated but I was often told walked funny (a waddle!) and that I had all kind of postural issues that needed correcting. I had tried running and weight lifting and it made my hips incredibly tight and painful and I couldn't seem to get better at it even after months.
My Obasan Yaeko (Takaya) Davis. One of my greatest teachers in being human.
What changed after a daily practice of Somatics, was a level of balance and structural alignment in my body that came naturally without any correction in the moment.
An ease that I had truly never known, even as a child (running was hard then too.)
That effortless, peaceful experience I had been trying to achieve by working my body so hard suddenly came easy. I started running again, which I had previously believed would be painful/impossible due to my hip issue. Finally! I knew what the joy running felt like! Easy, free and like the wind!
Additionally, one of the beautiful side-effects of my daily somatics practice (there are many!) was the way it balanced the hemispheres of my brain through movement. I began to feel not only integrated physically, but also mentally/emotionally. I started to remember my entirety and this continues to move me away from a dualistic thinking pattern, the good/bad dichotomy.
2018, My Mama Blessing at Claremont Yoga with wonderful, supportive women, I had just finished my 200 hr training
2022, pushing my 35lb son uphill on the trail. A few years before, I would never have been able to do this because of chronic muscular pain.
During the high-stress of my pregnancy I sought comfort foods and now that I was free to eat without restriction, I really enjoyed myself! Sourdough bread, full fat dairy and postpartum I began eating meat nearly daily for the first time in almost 10 years.
However, I found that I didn't feel well and was not losing the 40+ pounds that I had gained while pregnant.
I deeply wanted to get back to a health and vitality I knew was possible. I no longer had crippling chronic pain in the way of my goals so I really went for it!
I did Keto for 6 months and began running on a five-mile loop 3-5 times a week to lose weight. It was hard work and I averaged about 5lbs a month in weight reduction.
Walnut, Sun-dried tomato and mushroom tacos
My body was tired and I was frequently angry and stressed. I was back in the "good, bad" dichotomy and restricted-eating-land. After 6 months and a loss of about 30lbs, I called it quits.
Still unsure of what to eat, I did my best to eat "healthy" without a sense of clear direction. Then, a friend of mine introduced me to a couple books. Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman and Fiber Fueled by Will Bulsiewicz. I read them back to back and decided to transition my family into this way of eating.
An average dinner with my family; following Dr. Fuhrman's the 90% rule* and Dr. B's golden rule of diversity of plants to feed the microbiome.
*make 90% of everything you eat fruits and vegetables and only 10% of everything else.
There is nothing quite like feeling powerfully connected to the whole picture...
I know from experience that it is challenging to serve others or make healthy lifestyle shifts when you are living with chronic tension, pain and disconnection from your body.
My approach focuses on body connection first.
Once you are connected and listening deeply to yourself, changes will come more easily.
The plants I eat heal and nourish my being.
The pain was my body calling me to be a gentler, kinder and more compassionate human.
I now serve healers, empathic leaders and teachers of all kinds into a freer version of themselves, one with a vision of vitality for LIFE.
So much of my previous frustration and confusion around food was resolved by the knowledge contained in these two books.
When were the times in my life where I felt the best in my body and maintaining my weight was easiest? Whenever I was consistently eating a high volume of fruits and vegetables.
I also realized that when I was originally on my no dairy, no soy diet as a youngster, it had pretty much forced me into eating more whole foods, since there were very little allergy or food sensitivity friendly packaged foods at that time.
I began to truly grasp the healing power of eating fruits and vegetables and my perspective began to shift. Instead of feeling restricted, I felt inspired.
Understanding the microbiome through Fiber Fueled helped me understand what I could do to achieve better health and wellbeing.