Creating a joyful community

Creating a joyful community

Creating a joyful community

Miko Hafez interviews the owner of The Plant Store in Seattle, WA


The Pandemic was hard. I moved to Seattle from NY during the pandemic in 2021 and at that time it was still hard to meet people and make friends. One day, I came across @seattleplantstore and discovered that they were hosting a “Plant Swap Event.” At this event, I met many plant parents and I didn’t realize how much I was craving connection until I talked to them. I made new friends that day, and honestly I didn’t expect that. The event organizer Miles was working hard to create a joyful and welcoming event and I interviewed him about his plant swap event.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your business?
I am from Ohio and I’ve been in Seattle for 10 years, and started a plant shop about 5 years ago. I’ve always been interested in house plants since I was a little boy and I ended up going to school to study plant science and learn about horticulture and plant production in controlled environments.

I got into plant production and then worked at the Amazon at the Spheres. I also worked in cannabis production and about 5 years ago, I decided to start my plant shop. I really love plants and wanted to focus on sharing the love of that. I wanted to create a shop not only selling plants but also supporting people’s hobbies. That’s why we are doing workshops like making Terrariums and Kokedama.

What is a plant swap event?
A plant swap is where people come together and exchange plants. For example, I like to grow small plants into big plants and that’s sort of my joy. Once they get too big, I can cut this back and maybe give away cuttings, or I can just give the plant away. A plant swap is a great way to get a plant without paying money. It’s also a great way to get a plant that you might be nervous about spending money on because it’s tricky to care for. It is also a great opportunity to connect people and learn about new plants.

Why did you decide to host a plant swap event?
First of all, it is very popular. People really enjoy plant swap events. The last event we hosted in the bar next door. The bar just opened just over a year ago, we were able to collaborate with them to bring people in so their businesses as well, which is really nice for the community. it’s also a marketing opportunity for us. More and more people know that we’re here.We’re right outside of Seattle and it’s a good opportunity for people to learn about us and what we offer as well. The next one that’s coming up we have two vendors that are going to join us. It will be a very exciting and fun event.

Learn more about Miles and upcoming events at The Plant Store in Seattle

Food is Love – A look inside Integral Yoga’s Kitchen

Food is Love – A look inside Integral Yoga’s Kitchen

Food is Love – A look inside Integral Yoga’s Kitchen

By: Diana Dharani Diaz


Founded in a NYC brownstone by Swami Satchidananda in 1970, Integral Yoga Institute of New York is still open and thriving as a teaching center, and a place where thousands of people experience Yoga and community. Many New Yorkers also discovered the joys and benefits of a vegetarian diet when the Integral Yoga Natural Foods store first opened in the West 13th Street building in March 1972, and for many years it was one of the only places in the city where they could purchase exclusively vegetarian products. Today people can enjoy vegetarian meals lovingly created onsite in the community kitchen to share together. Learn more about love, food and community from the Integral Yoga kitchen manager, Tinuola Bello.

What does “Food is Love” mean to you?
When I first came to volunteer at Integral Yoga’s kitchen in 2002, my Tuesday shifts with Kitchen Mother Andalamma were wonderful. She reminded me of my own mother – small, dark brown, no nonsense. When she cooked, she made the food that she ate and fed her own children. It was an invitation into her home, her space, her life. Into who she is. And when you do that, you’re inviting others to do the same. It’s an expression of love. 

Share with us what you love about the kitchen.
The kitchen operates mainly through Karma Yoga, the practice of selfless service, or volunteering. That in itself is an act of love. During my 18 years in the kitchen, it became a meeting place for the cooks and Karma Yogis to develop ourselves through friendships and through the food we prepared. Our cooking and sharing meals is an invitation for people to find a spiritual home here. Andalamma really created a sanctuary. As kitchen manager, it’s been important for me to continue that. We recognize who people are, not just what service they bring, and we nurture them. Karma Yogis have gone on to serve in other ways throughout Integral Yoga. Many, myself included, have become teachers. 

We‘ve also nurtured board members, program directors, sound healers and many more! People have met and married through this kitchen. The patience in learning, understanding proportions, and combinations of ingredients are still a labor of love and a metaphor for life itself.

What part of your life or yourself did you bring to the kitchen?
I grew up in a diverse neighborhood, Jamaicans, Indians, Pakistani, Italian, Irish and Chinese. Mr. Frederico gave me bread and salami from his deli on my way home from school, I ate homemade samosas at the Singh’s house (also where I first saw Michael Jackson’s Thriller video!) and of course fish and chips. There was a lot of food in my ‘hood, and it always came with a lot of love! This is reflected in our Integral Yoga’s kitchen. Here, you can share your culture and it will be appreciated. From time to time, teachers or staff would offer to cook the food they grew up with, and we would learn a lot about one another.  

And everyone is welcome. My Jamaican mother and Nigerian father raised five children in the ‘70s and ‘80s, during the Thatcher years. As hard as they worked, they always welcomed people into our home. I remember people stopping by and my father encouraging them to stay for dinner, telling them that we had more than enough to share. From a very early age, I remember eating every kind of food. Hanging with my mother at my Jamaican godparent’s parties at 12 years old, it’s the food that I remember – the salt fish fritters, chicken and beef patties and syrup. It was good and plentiful. 

Tell us more about this recipe.
Last summer, I spent many late nights driving uptown. We would usually stop at a really good Dominican eatery just before making our way over the bridge into the Bronx. This, my late night snack, was never disappointing. And those nights hearing music and simultaneous conversations, seeing the parked cars and the lines in all the restaurants made me feel there’s no community without love and no community without the love of food.

There’s something very loving about finger food and eating with your hands. You’re sharing with others. It’s communal. It’s also reflective of an important time in my life, when I was in Mexico teaching a performance workshop for young people. A local family cooked for us as a way of making money and at the time, I was a pescatarian. In Mexico, that’s a little problematic as dairy and meat are in almost everything. I asked if I could have a tortilla with just beans and  rice. They said of course. When I went to pay, they refused my money, even after I insisted several times. I once again experienced food as an expression of love and inclusion. 

Oyster Mushroom and Batata
(Purple-skinned Sweet Potato) Tacos

I am reminded of the combination of simplicity and creativity of meals that sit between a snack and ‘dinner.’ In these tacos, it was always about the batata for me – perfectly baked and naturally caramelized due to its own sugar. I love this purple sweet potato, and I remember the first few times I cooked them in the kitchen and how much they were enjoyed. The oyster mushrooms are delicious and versatile and remind me of a dear friend with whom I’m always sharing food. 

 Ingredients: (Makes 10 tacos)

  • 2 medium batata (or any sweet potato)
  • A large handful of oyster mushrooms  
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
  • Salt and ground white pepper to taste
  • 10 soft corn or flour tortillas


For the garnish:

  • Finely grated red cabbage
  • Finely chopped cucumber
  • Lime zest
  • Sliced red onion
  • Fresh cilantro


Wash and dry the potatoes. Make a small incision across the top and allow them to completely dry before wrapping in foil and placing in the oven at 350°F.

Separate, lightly rinse, completely dry the mushrooms and continue to wipe clean if necessary. Season with garlic powder, smoked paprika, and a little white pepper. Mix well and place aside for at least an hour. Add oil, then place in the oven.

Check the potatoes periodically, between 45 minutes to an hour (depending on the size). Remove them from the oven once they are soft all the way through. 

Set them aside for 30 minutes to cool, then refrigerate for an hour. Carefully peel the potatoes and cut into bite-size cubes. Optional: Sauté the cooked, diced batata over medium heat, until golden.

Warm tortillas in skillet or frying pan on low heat. Once cooked, check the mushrooms for seasoning. Place mushrooms on the tortilla and top with cubed batata.

To garnish, add red cabbage and cucumber, a pinch of lime or lime zest if desired. Add a slice of onion and sprig of cilantro to the taco.





To celebrate the release of our print issue themed LOVE, we reached out to our amazing community to share with us a few thoughts on love. This week we celebrate Dharamsala TC  in Michigan and founder Kay Epple. Dharamsala TC is “a women owned and operated yoga studio in Traverse City, Michigan. Our story is rooted in a desire to share the beautiful benefits of Yoga + Mindfulness. Dharamsala TC is a sacred space for everyone to feel welcome.

From the moment you first visit, you will sense the genuine warmth and vibrant energy. It is a collective passion for yoga and well-being shared by amazing teachers and students practicing here. The word Dharamsala means rest house or shelter. And that’s just what we offer to all who enter our doors. Our yoga studio is a place to spend time together soaking up the beautiful benefits of this practice.” Pick up your free copy of Yoga Love Magazine at Dharamsala TC today!

Share with us what you love about what you do:
I opened my studio, Dharamsala TC in Traverse City, Michigan in 2021 with  the intention of bringing community-practiced yoga back to my community. All of the studios in town had closed during the pandemic and I missed teaching in person and sharing the energy of yoga when practiced with others. Dharamsala TC serves as an inclusive sanctuary, a safe space, and a  shelter for all to practice yoga and learn the benefits of a lifelong practice.Through this dream my daughter Hilary Lee joined me as a co-owner and we grew to open a second location. While I love seeing adult’s faces leaving class with the look of yoga bliss on their face, I personally am most passionate about bringing yoga to kids. As the Dalai Lama said “If every 8- year-old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from  the world within one generation.” I strongly believe in the emotional benefits of yoga, breathwork and mindfulness for children of all ages. We are teaching them lifelong tools that can be used on and off the mat for  overall health and well-being. I love providing children and families with  tools for living healthy, happy lives.

Share with us what you have learned about LOVE:
I’ve learned that the more love you send out into the world, the more love that returns to you. Love is such a positive force of energy that when you do things with love as the motivator you can’t go wrong.

What inspired you to support Yoga Love Magazine?
I support Yoga Love Magazine for many reasons, not the least of which is  that it represents real yoga, not a social media version of what yoga should  look like. Yoga is truly for everyone and Yoga Love Magazine highlights people of all cultures and backgrounds. I also love that your magazine is distributed for free!