What is your best early morning wake-me-up?
First thing when I wake up I have two large glasses of filtered water and then a cup of warm water with fresh lemon and grated ginger about thirty minutes before a balanced breakfast to get my digestive fire going. I'll follow that up with a balanced breakfast including good fat and protein such as scrambled eggs with watercress or porridge made with nut milk and a good spoonful of coconut oil and nut butter swirled in. If it's a hot summer day, I'll occasionally make a dairy-free smoothie or if it's a cold winter morning, I might even have a cup of chicken broth to get me going!
What type of breakfast do you have on the weekend?
My weekends are experimental baking time. I leave my boyfriend in charge of making scrambled eggs or an omelette and I'll roll my sleeves up and make a low-sugar, gluten-free version of my favourite comfort food - muffins, pancakes or breads. This past weekend I made a pumpkin banana bread using ripe bananas, roasted pumpkin, oats and buckwheat flour, all of which I happened to have on hand! Over the summer we were delighting in mango-nana smoothies.
Are there any particular foods you have before a yoga lesson?
It depends on if I'm teaching or taking class as a student and also on the type of yoga I will practise, but I generally try to avoid heavy and hard-to-digest foods before a class as well as anything too stimulating like caffeine or chocolate. I want to be focused when I teach and relaxed when I practise so I eat the foods that help me feel that way.
Do you suggest foods to your students?
Because I am also a Health Coach, I often get asked what kinds of food are healthy. I always promote organic, home-cooked and non-processed foods. Eating plenty of good fat, protein and vegetables on a daily basis is a great formula and obviously lots of water - especially for those taking hot yoga classes! I often advise against anything too stimulating, but we're all different and have different nutritional needs to suit our body types so I tend to advise people to have a health consultation so they can discover on their own what foods are best for them. There's a wonderful juice shop around the corner from the studio, which I will often suggest for a great post-yoga class cleansing green juice!
What are your five foods to a calmer soul?
I include a lot of organic, cold-pressed coconut oil in my cooking and daily meal consumption - good fat is essential to feel grounded and to feed the brain. But my favourite calming foods are butternut squash soup, chicken broth, baked sweet potatoes, hot nut milk with spices and kitchadi (moong daal).
What five things do you always get on your daily shop?
I try not to shop daily, but instead I get a weekly organic vegetable delivery through Riverford and bulk order things like gluten-free oats, flours, grains and organic almonds and cashews (to make nut milk and butters) that I use in my cooking. I usually roast an organic chicken once a week and then make stock from the bones to cook my grains in and make soups with. I tend to buy a lot of eggs, avocadoes and tahini, and rocket too!
What food have you learnt to avoid since becoming a yoga teacher?
Stimulating foods with lots of sugar and/or caffeine and alcohol. None of them make you feel very grounded on the mat. Yoga is a cleansing practice so it's great to eat foods that support that rather than detract from it. But I should also note that becoming a yoga teacher doesn't naturally make you healthier - you have to inquire into the food you eat individually and it's generally not part of your training.
What are the best ways to get the whole family eating healthily?
I don't have a family of my own yet, but whenever I see my nieces I'm always trying to inspire them to eat healthier by making colourful smoothies or healthier versions of their favourite desserts, as well as talking about my favourite vegetables and how they grow. I think it's up to parents, however, to set the example - always preparing well-rounded meals cooked at home and getting kids involved in the preparation.
What is your mantra on cooking healthily?
'Keep it simple' and 'Practice makes perfect'. Learn a few simple recipes that have nutrient-dense ingredients and practice them over and over so that it becomes second nature to whip up a healthy meal.
What has yoga taught you about eating healthily?
In the world of yoga, there are a lot of conflicting messages about what to eat. Many yogis are vegetarian, for example, as an act of ahmisa (non-violence) towards animals, but many eat meat. I honestly haven't learned much about healthy eating through training in yoga but more through its sister science of Ayurveda and through nutrition courses that promote eating for your type. My practice, however, has brought me much more in tune with my body so that I am more aware of how certain foods affect me. So in a nutshell, yoga has taught me that there is no one way - not to practise or to eat. You have to find what works for you.