We had the good fortune of connecting with Ry Toast and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ry, how does your business help the community?
My mission with Yoga & Mixtapes is to make yoga accessible & fun for everyone, especially those who have been traditionally marginalized by western yoga. I do this by removing the barriers that keep most people from ever trying yoga.
The biggest obstacle is the cost. It’s expensive. The price of a yoga practice is obscene. This makes it feel exclusive, when yoga is for everyone. Because of the high price, many studios develop sh_tty cultures. They are catering to the rich customers they depend on, over the community. There’s locker room clicks, people are territorial about their spots, etc. And many teachers & studio owners unconsciously encourage this behavior through their actions. I get it, they are running a business, but to me it’s always been more important to walk the walk. If you’re making money off this ancient platform for self-realization, you better be about it and uphold it’s values every chance you get.
The cost barrier has a toxic ripple effect as well. Studios become very white. People of color see all these white people doing yoga & think that it’s not for them. The community misses out on all these wonderful humans. The medicine of yoga does not get to the people in our society who are generally under the most stress. Yoga becomes bland and boring and stuck in a lame box. I’m here to blow it up. How?
1. By making it FREE- simply subscribe to our mailing list to get the invite!
2. By making it FUN- bangin’ mixtape soundtracks!
3. By bringing it to YOU- tap in from anywhere in the world!
The culture we are curating at Y&M is one of inclusivity over exclusivity. Community over clout. When I say all are welcome, I really mean that. I am meeting with a community member with multiple fused bones this weekend over zoom to create a routine for her so she can join our class and feel successful. I do everything I can to help people access the power of yoga.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a DJ and Bikram Yoga Teacher. For the first decade plus of my career I kept those two things separate- thinking I had to be one person to make it as a DJ and another to be taken seriously as a yoga teacher. In 2017 I started touring with my band and it felt like the right time to take a break from teaching. I was burned out and the community was in shambles in the wake of rape allegations against the founder, Bikram Choudhury.
For the following few years, I went all in on DJing & music in general. I studied turntablism with the Beat Junkies & DJ Shortee. I soaked up studio time with grammy-winning producers, sat in on writing sessions and eventually started writing, composing, & recording my own music. I performed on bigger stages in front of thousands of people. My understanding of music & it’s effects on people was deepening.
When the pandemic hit last March, my yoga mentors hit me up to start teaching for them virtually. Lynn Whitlow & Jeff Renfro of Yoga Hell Petaluma. I have been studying yoga & yoga teaching with them since I graduated from training in 2008. Even though I hadn’t taught in years, I said yes right away without thinking twice.
Teaching helped me come back into my power. I started practicing again and physically feeling better than ever. With no DJ gigs, I finally had time to day dream, meditate, and try out new creative ideas.
I’ve been in so many yoga classes where the music and the teacher just feel so random that it takes away from the power of both. As an excellent DJ and a bad ass yoga teacher, my ear is finely tuned to these experiences and I have zero tolerance for BS. I had always wanted to score a yoga class, but never had the time do it right. But it’s easy to fall back and criticize, it’s a lot harder to actually sit down and do it on the level that you know you can.
But that’s what i do now. Every week. I create custom mixtape soundtracks that flow perfectly with poses. I step back as a teacher, using minimal dialogue and let the music control the flow of the class. I take the 2 things I do best, put them together, and give it away. I truly believe that yoga & mixtapes is the highest way I can serve the collective.
This by far is what I am most excited about: getting more people free access to dope yoga. I think of Yoga & Mixtapes like a gateway drug to yoga. You know it’s not going to kill you and you might even have some fun so just try it!
I’ve learned a lot of lessons along this beautiful path. Stay true to yourself. Make sure you are staying aligned with your ethos. Take the time to think about what really drives you because it’s got to be deeper than money. At least it does for me. Get clear on WTF it is and ask yourself every single day if you’re on course for that. Also, take time to be happy and enjoy your wins. The job of a creator is never over, you will always have that urge to create more. Don’t worry, it’s not fleeting and you have 24/7 access to an infinite supply of this sh_t. Have fun with it. Focus on expressing over impressing. Keep it real. Celebrate your wins cuz its fun. Celebrate your losses cuz you learn. Remember that relaxing is hella productive.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Definitely gotta hit up the Pacific Ocean. Love cocktails & dinner at the Misfit. Brunch at Sage. Afternoon in my hot tub. Dinner at Crossroads. Sunday morning yoga sesh with yours truly. Melrose Trading post afterwards. Head out to the desert for a few days too.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I dedicate my shout out to my husband, Carl aka @thegratefulcarl
You’re my ultimate teammate and teacher. I am blessed to be on this journey with you. I am so excited to see what we create next!
I love you! -RY
Stephen Dietrich Chris Fiq Brian Archie Tom Hauch Andrew Manley Shatia Chesson