Lily is a teacher, writer and musician based in Brooklyn.
from the wild
Lily Cushman was born and raised in Boise, Idaho with a rugged and refined understanding of life through nature, animals, music and good people. Her upbringing was filled with immense love and creativity, but also hardship and loss, setting her on a path early in life seeking a different way of being in the world.
Music became a path for Lily at a young age, studying voice and piano as early as she can remember, and diving into the world of jazz throughout her teens. At 18, Lily moved to Boston to attend the Berklee College of Music to study voice, where she earned a Bachelor’s in Music Production and Engineering. Within days of finishing classes at Berklee, Lily loaded up a uhaul and moved to the East Village in New York City to pursue a career in music. Over the next decade, she split her time between creating and performing her own music, and her work as a recording engineer in studios, television and live music venues.
Lily’s early music was an eclectic mix of the jazz vocals from her roots, combined with the electronic music that was emerging out of Europe in the late 90s. Crafted by her skillset as an audio engineer, her first album, One, released in 2004, was entirely sample based tracks as the bed for rich vocals. Throughout the 2000s, Lily regularly played at iconic clubs in the lower East Side of New York: Mercury Lounge, Pianos, Arlene’s Grocery and Joe’s Pub. In 2006 she formed her next project, the band Seva with her then husband, Jeremy Frindel. Seva was a departure from her previous work: raw rock band plus a string trio, combined with Lily’s gender-fluid vocals and mythological storytelling. However after a decade in NYC and a number of defunct record label contracts, Lily decided to take a hiatus from music to regroup and dive into yoga studies full-time.
While in college, Lily first introduced to yoga, seeking a more connected and holistic way of life. Her life-long exploration of yoga quietly began in her pajamas, rolling out of bed every morning and onto her yoga mat, led by a two instructional VHS tapes. It would be ten years of daily self-practice before setting foot in a public yoga class, or even consider teaching others. In 2007, Lily began to shift gears to focus on teaching yoga, meditation and chanting in the greater New York area.
Working as a full-time musician in NYC for a decade left her burnt out and stuck, so in 2007 Lily shifted gears for what she thought would be a short hiatus from the music industry. In that moment, she met two teachers that would have a profound affect on her life: Dharma Mittra and Krishna Das. She began studying Classical Yoga with Dharma, and in a short period of a year, she completed his 200HR and 500 HR teacher training programs. After so many years of daily practice, formally studying with a teacher brought her to a new level, and she spent the following years immersing herself in the teachings and practices of yoga, mediation, pranayama, chanting and the more esoteric worlds of self-realization.
Her teaching is a synthesis of the ancient body-practices of Classical Yoga, the heart-practices of Bhakti Yoga, and the mind-practices of Insight Meditation. Through her twenty plus years of study and daily practice, Lily has expertly crafted an accessible pathway for awakened living in the 21st century.
Lily found a natural home in the practices of Bhakti Yoga: chanting mantras in the traditional call and response style of Northern India, and for nearly a decade she has regularly led chanting events in the greater New York area. In 2014, Lily created the Vanaras Music record label to facilitates kirtan and spiritual music recordings and live events
Lily co-founder and owner of the Brooklyn Yoga School, a donation-based yoga center that she co-founded in 2010, that was voted "Best of New York" by New York Magazine in 2011. Lily has served as Director and Manager of BYS, since it’s opening, working to make the teachings of classical yoga accessible to anyone, regardless their financial means.
While Lily herself is an established teacher and musician, she finds great value in professionally supporting other teachers to move their work forward in the world. She strikes a balance between her own teaching work and the behind-the-scenes work of supporting other teachers whom she deeply believes in. The skill set that she has honed as the director and manager of her yoga studio has expanded throughout her work helping others to include graphic and web design, branding and communications, marketing and PR, event production, education consultation, team management, and curriculum development.
Lily currently serves as Chief of Staff to meditation teacher and best-selling author, Sharon Salzberg. She has supported Sharon is this role since 2015, overseeing her extensive global operation, producing her well-known podcast, The Metta Hour, and running her annual Real Happiness Meditation Challenge with over 20K participants annually.
From 2010 - 2016 Lily worked supporting world-renowned chanter, Krishna Das, During her time with KD, Lily helped establish Krishna Das Music, a record label dedicated to KD’s recorded music and workshops catalog, as well as graphic and web design, and event production support.
From 2007 - 2010 Lily served as the Manager of the Dharma Yoga Center in NYC and ran the LOAY Teacher Training programs for Dharma Mittra. During that time, Lily also assisted Dharma Mittra in his teaching engagements around the world. Lily also personally assisted Dharma in the digitization and update of his famous Master Chart of 908 Yoga Poses during that time, on which she is featured in three yoga poses.