Yoga teachers seem to have it all: toned bodies, glowing skin, and endless ease. Even as they bend, stretch, and sweat, they appear the epitome of relaxation. So what are their secrets? How do they manage to radiate both happiness and health? And how can you do it too? Here are ten tips from top yoga teachers.
1. Turn yourself upside down
Founder of Mata Yoga, Natasha Moutran, turns herself upside down every day. ‘It is fantastic for flushing out toxins, improving circulation, calming the nervous system, and boosting the oxygen in your brain and skin. It’s like having a detox, an oxygen facial, and a chill out all in one,’ she says.
2. Eat avocado regularly
Avocados are a healthy fat, providing essential nutrients like folic acid and potassium that the body needs. Natasha eats an avocado every day. ‘I’m convinced it’s what has made my skin start glowing more and it keeps away the hunger pains.’ She recommends adding them to scrambled eggs, putting them in a smoothie, or slicing one on crackers.
3. Exercise off and on the mat
Yoga lengthens, strengthens, and tones the body – but it’s not the only option out there. Yoga instructor Kathleen Stavert notes that yoga can easily be combined with a variety of activities. She exercises around five times a week, mixing between running, walking, and different yoga styles. ‘Exercise is so important to me. It keeps me grounded and happy.’
4. Start a journal
Not all meditation and relaxation happens on the mat. Yoga instructors Nathalie Joel-Smith and Helena Sain of Samsara Mind and Body say journaling is the secret to their inner calm. They recommend you ‘start a journal. Use it as a place to release the thoughts that swim around your brain and clog up your ability to think. Write down three to five things you’re grateful for each day.’
5. More honey, but not on the plate
Director of Yogasphere, Mandy Jhamat, says the long-praised health benefits of honey can easily extend off the plate. ‘My favourite beauty tip for amazing skin is a self-applied Manuka-honey facial, which I give myself once a week. It does wonders for any blemishes and lines.’
6. Find that inner sanctuary in the tub
Having a haven from the chaos of city life is crucial for looking and feeling young, says Mandy. She recommends a bi-weekly soak in the bath with essential oils such as valerian. ‘This is also when I put on some relaxing music.’
7. Start the day green
Green juice is an instant way of packing in vitamins. Olga Allon, Studio Director of Hot Bikram Yoga, starts every morning with raw juice made of celery, spinach, kale, cucumber, cayenne pepper, lime, and ginger. ‘It kick starts my metabolism and gives my body a chance to quickly digest loads of nutrients. It also sets the tone for me for the rest of the day!’
8. Eat little and often
When we skip meals, the body wants to store fat reserves as if in hibernation, says Mandy from Yogasphere. ‘My secret is to eat little and often, and never let your body get into “oh no you’re starving!” mode.’ She recommends eating tiny portions of fruit, nuts, seeds, yoghurt, and antioxidant-rich dark chocolate.
Whether it’s taking 20 focused breaths first thing in the morning, or making an effort to inhale slowly throughout the day, several yoga teachers cited breathing as the root of their calm demeanours. Kathleen Stavert focuses on it for 20 minutes a day, while Nathalie Joel-Smith recommends practicing 10 deep slow breaths in and out. ‘It’s great for getting rid of the body’s impurities,’ says Mandy.
10 Put the phone down
With our busy lives, it’s easy to get caught up in the chaos of social networks, all before 9am. Kathleen, who regularly runs yoga retreats abroad, recommends putting away the technology. ‘I don’t look at my emails or Facebook until at least after breakfast,’ she says.
11. Find the balance
Several yoga instructors stressed the importance of moderation. ‘We aren’t all herbal tea drinking vegans. Yoga is the study of balance, which for me involves enjoying a delicious glass of red wine and some dark chocolate, as well as spending time on my yoga matt,’ said Nathalie. ‘Each individual needs to find what balance means for them.’
You can follow Danae Mercer on twitter @DanaeMercer.