BIOGRAPHY

Female, London, Greater London, United Kingdom, birthday 25th April
Joined September 2017

Writer, Singer, DJ, and co-founder of the band Luminous Frenzy.

My stage name is Luminous, and I follow in the footsteps of my musical family (my granddad Syd, band-leader/drummer, and great-grandmother Kitty, whose all-night parties in post-war Birmingham were legendary).

Music found me quite late … My early passions were dance, sport, and animals. Vegan from 18, I took part in many animal rights protests and actions. Later, in the early 90s, I worked undercover in two animal research labs, achieving national press coverage, and served as President of the Vegan Society, where I founded 'World Vegan Day' (every 1st November), and made a film with Benjamin Zephaniah.

Around this time I met my partner Frank (a.k.a. Mr Frenzy). “Godlike guitarist” in hotly tipped, indie band The Playthings. He invited me along, as a kind of honorary member, for a band press interview: in return, I took him raving, and our lives took off in a whole new direction. Consumed by House music and DJ’ing, we played in clubs and parties all over London and Europe, and for many years ran a free sound system. We had a residency at The Foundry, the famously anarchic arts venue in London, where our band Luminous Frenzy was formed, and I was named one the World’s ‘Top 100 Female DJs‘ in the first list of its kind (ranked between Radio One's Annie Mac and Annie Nightingale)

Luminous Frenzy‘s first album 'Violence/Ambience' is an evocative exploration of beauty and malevolence. We debuted live as an 8-piece band on one of the main stages at the 2005 Big Chill Festival, and later, at the Southbank Centre, to promote our single 'Three Cliffs Bay', which got cracking reviews and has a music video filmed on location in Wales. Mutating into a rockier 5 piece, we recorded three tracks with Producer Paul Sampson (Catatonia, The Primitives), performing live at the ICA & Supernormal Festival.

From 2014-17, we ran Karamel, a vegan venue and restaurant - hosting live music, comedy, poetry, art exhibitions, and parties. We won two Time Out ‘Love London’ awards, served “some of the best vegan food London has to offer” (The Guardian), and helped turn Wood Green into a cool, conscious, arty destination. (The next 'Shoreditch' reckons the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/jul/22/shoreditch-east-end-londo...

I give talks on veganism, and artivism. I'm also a Yoga & Pilates teacher, and teach classes in both.

I'm a writer too, with an interest in art, music, social change & lifestyle. I've interviewed Moby, Johnny Marr, Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath), Benjamin Zephaniah, and comedians Sara Pascoe & Richard Herring,

About

Key Skills

INTERESTS

GUILDS

HERE FOR

Influences

Music. Art. Animals. Identity. Presence. Nature. Kindness. Courage.

I'm interested in the tension between dualities, and drawn to the in-between.

CV

Co-founder: Luminous Frenzy (band) - Current

Owner: Mind Body Zone (Yoga & Pilates Practice) - Current

Co-founder Kabaret @ Karamel (Time Out award-winning venue in North London) - 2014 - 2017

Policy & Campaigns Officer: Respond (learning disability charity) - 2009-2013

Manager: Siren Arts (learning disability charity) - 2003-2012

President & Chair: Vegan Society - 1991-1994

Undercover Investigator: 1990-1991

Campaigns Officer: National Anti-Vivisection Society -1988-1990

PROJECTS

How Not To Be An As*hole: Vegan Yoga Teacher To-The-Stars Opens Up

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Stewart Gilchrist shares his views on veganism and yoga going hand-in-hand, Sid Vicious, Woody Harrelson, and the mind-expanding superpowers of a plant-based yoga practice.

 

Yoga is a demographic where veganism is rapidly gaining ground. Many yogis now practise veganism alongside yoga, as they consider the two go hand in hand. 

There's considerable crossover. Both advocate compassion and non-violence (or Ahimsa as it's called in yoga), as well as bestowing life-enhancing benefits on the practitioner, in terms of physical fitness, wellbeing, and personal empowerment.

Legend

One legendary vegan yoga teacher is Stewart Gilchrist, a charismatic 57 year-old wild man and cycling fanatic, who cracks jokes in a thick Scottish accent, and counts celebrities like Woody Harrelson and supermodel Kate Moss among his clients. 

Gilchrist literally fell into yoga when he fractured his spine. In Astanga yoga he found not only rehab, but a whole new life purpose – and now heads up the East London School of Yoga, where he trains other teachers. 

His TEDX talk on Breathing has racked up 175,000 views.

On September 22, 2018 he spoke at the event I was involved in putting on - The Superpowers of a Plantbased Yoga Practice

Rachel Spain and I (we are co-founders of Veganahata) caught up with Gilchrist - known as Stew...

When and how did you find yoga?

I think yoga found me! I always tried to avoid it. From the 60s till today I have been stalked by the pull of something which I found out was yoga. 

Physically, I think breaking my back helped. Philosophically, it gradually started to make sense over many years of it being beyond me.‍

What prompted you to become a yoga teacher, and what were you doing before that? 

Penance! I was so nasty and horrid to people before yoga that I thought I had better do something to give something back to society and the community. 

Before I had a variety of professions, from IBM'er, to head waiter in Paris, to youth worker, to teacher, to law professional, and many more diverse and colourful ways to make money. Drugs and music were a constant through all these.

What's your aim as a Yoga teacher?

Seva. To be in service, as a teacher of Yogasana [yoga postures], and yoga Dharma [right living]. To teach Dharma in the context of modern morality.‍

You're a much-loved teacher with a famous following. Can you share any anecdotes with us about Woody Harrelson, or other celebrity clients?  

I have over 400 'celebrity' students every week in London, and it would take too long to talk about them all. These days NDAs (Non disclosure Agreements) sort of inhibit the sharing of anecdotes.

Woody [Harrelson] was a long time ago, when cannabis was illegal in most US states but he was instrumental in changing that.‍

Hollywood actor Woody Harrelson

Stewart Gilchrist taught actor Woody Harrelson (Photo: Gabriel Cristóver Pérez)

How often do you practice, and is your personal Yoga practice similar to your well-rounded classes consisting of Asana, Pranayama, Meditation, Intention? 

Every day except moon days. Usually once with Aasana [yoga postures], and one Pranayama [breathing exercise], and Dhyana [meditation].‍

Do you have a favourite pose? 

NO. Favourite anythings suck.‍

You trained in Jivamukti (a school of Yoga that embraces veganism). Did this get you interested in veganism? When did you first go vegan?

No, I was into veganism and Animal Rights long before Jivamukti; they however, were brave enough to promote it when others shied away. 

First time I was aware of it was in 1977, when Sid Vicious worked in Food for Thought in Neal's Yard, and then again with The Smiths - Meat is Murder

I tried a hundred times to be vegan but finally succeeded and then it became a bit silly, raw, fruitarian, mono fruitarian, orthorexic. There are pitfalls in this histoire too.‍

Did a vegan diet improve your Yoga practice / physical performance? 

Improved and saved my life, and Abhyasa/Sadhana [daily focused practice] is part of that. ‍

You're a funny guy, with a dry sense of humour. How important has this been in teaching and getting your message across? 

Sometimes it helps, sometimes it hinders. Kevin Bridges, Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce etc etc are influences for most students to grasp, especially those whose first language is not Scottish. Bless those who geddit! 

Though I probably put a lot of people off by talking so much bullsh*t sometimes. I think it was Alan Watts who said it is tone of the voice and not what it is saying that what people tune into. 

Maybe that's the important part, not content

What is your background / experience of activism, and what have you found to be the most effective form of activism? 

Most effective is Non Violent Direct Action of Gandhian method [Satyagraha], which allows damage to property. Yes this is controversial, ask Indian activists. I think it is Ahimsic. 

Why shouldn't the citadels of torture, murder and corruption be torn down peacefully? Without harming anyone.

First started with punk in 77, and Rock Against Racism and Anti Nazi League, then got into CND and did non-violent direct action from then on. I have supported and been active in many things: Nicaraguan Solidarity campaign/IRA Hunger strike/Miners’ strike/lotsa Animal Rights stuff/Peace/Anti-corporate/Vegan and Raw food/anti-GMO/etc etc.

Vegan yoga teacher Stewart Gilchrist

He believes veganism and yoga go hand-in-hand 

Do you believe that Veganism and Yoga go hand in hand? 

Many will disagree, but one is necessary to experience other.‍

What is your understanding of Ahimsa and how do you relate it to Veganism? 

Ahimsa means that one should avoid harming any sentient beings.

This may always not be possible, but one should aspire to this. Always.‍

What makes Yoga & Veganism such a powerful combo? 

Entheogens [something that enhances spiritual connection] and shamanism of both disciplines in their authentic practice as alchemy and food as medicine make it a powerful duo! 

Together both offer a mind-expanding context of liberating one's soul/self/spirit (delete as necessary)… to achieve freedom in one's lifetime. (The jivamukta).

How do you plant seeds in the minds of your students or fellow yogis? 

By telling them the truth and my own experiences.‍

Who are your Gurus (if you subscribe to the Guru model) or heroes, and why?

Gurus and heroes usually disappoint and let you down. They illustrate a lack of self-belief in the individual.  

We are all Gurus.  I think Gandhi pointed out that Satya [Truth] exists in us all. If god or any sort of god exists, it exists in us all. The family: Shaz, Georgina, Oscar and Ivan inspire me.‍

What do you eat in a day to fuel your busy teaching schedule?

Oats/dates/coconut/green vegetables/all fruit and veg/cacao/olives …‍

Take us through a typical day in the life of vegan yoga teacher Stewart Gilchrist? 

Ablutions/practice/breakfast/cycle/teach/cycle/teach/cycle… [daughter] Georgina's activity (she is eight) - could be ballet or gymnastics or streetdance - practice/eat/read/sleep... 

On days of teacher training eight -10 hours teaching, six days a week.‍

What are you most proud of in your life?

Oscar, Ivan and Georgina. Selfishly, giving up alcohol, giving up all drugs (pharmaceutical and recreational), finally ending a vicious cycle (for those about me) of being an as*hole! 

Oh no, just realized, I probably still can be, but am a work in progress.



This article first appeared in Plant Based News

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Kimm Fearnley

Great interview @Louise Wallis

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Louise Wallis

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