For Annie Clarke, yoga is so much more than just stretches – it’s a life-changer. Here, she tells us why…
Annie Clarke is a Jack of all trades when it comes to wellness: with an established health blog, turned book, namely Mind, Body, Bowl, she champions those three elements (mental health, physical health and nutrition) as her blueprint for feeling good. Both the mental and physical parts of this are largely down to yoga, which Annie has taught for more than three years. Her holistic approach to feeling good has seen her host many yoga events, retreats and women’s circles, all with the same aim to help people step away from prescriptive ideas and connect with their own sense of balance.
For me, yoga started as quite a physical thing. I was always really inflexible, so I wanted to work on that as I was desperate to be able to touch my toes. After a while though, I realised it wasn’t the stretching that was keeping me there but something else, and over time, I just kept going back. It became my time to totally disconnect from all of the business of my day-to-day life and offer myself a bit of time to just be; which was something I‘d never explored before. During a time where I was shifting my entire lifestyle, yoga became my constant and, from there, it grew into being a big part of my life. I wouldn’t be able to choose a favourite yoga pose – I love different things at different times, and I really believe that we should adapt our practice in response to that. Sometimes I would want to choose something invigorating, and other times I just want to be soft with my practice. So the poses come and go – it’s good not to be attached!
I have started to host women’s circles, which I’m really enjoying, as well as continuing with my yoga classes and retreats. I really love the retreat aspect – it’s incredibly special to see the impact of the practice on my guests, first-hand, and it’s touching to have a personal connection with each of them through the experience. So, there will definitely be some more of those to come. My big intention this year is to ensure that everything that I share adds value to people and their lives. This mindset acts as a guidance point for navigating the opportunities that come my way. I’ve been putting a lot of resources into my YouTube channel to improve the production value, so that people can practice at home. I’m also working up another idea for a second book, although I keep reminding myself that I don’t have to do everything all at once!
Yoga keeps me motivated: even if my asana practice (the physical element) isn’t as consistent as I would like it, I still live the rest of my day guided by yoga. Like anyone, motivation can be hard to maintain and I have days, or weeks where I don’t feel like doing the things I should be. I think it’s important to check in with yourself and ask – why am I avoiding this? Is it because I have taken on too much? Or am I just feeling lazy? What do I really need right now? And, then let that guide you. I trust myself enough that I’ll always come back to my practice, so it’s getting the balance between adapting to the changing needs of my body and mind, whilst keeping a certain consistency to support my holistic wellbeing.
I believe that balance is a flow state – our ability to lean into different things at different times as it feels right for us. So for me, it’s not about trying to fit work and social life in all the time. If I have a busy week, I won’t make many (or any) social plans, because I won’t be able to fully commit to being present with my friends and family. Quality over quantity is a good reminder for that! I used to wait until the end of the day to wind down, but now I try to start the morning that way, too. Most days, I make myself a coffee and sit with my journal and that time feels really special to me. In the evenings, I try to switch off my computer and phone at a reasonable hour and take the time to cook, enjoy my dinner, and potter around listening to a podcast or audio book. I swear by getting enough sleep, too – it’s vital for your wellbeing and everything’s always better after a good night’s rest.
What I eat tends to shift quite a bit, particularly as I travel a lot. If I’m in a hot country for example, I can’t get enough of ripe, local fruit. At home, I struggle to digest fruit, whilst warm foods suit me well, so I try to eat local produce and whatever is in season, even if that does mean fewer avocados and smoothie bowls! I love to make big warming stews and curries, especially as I’ll keep them in the fridge and eat them over the course of the week with extra veg, which makes a busy life easier, too!
Visit Annie’s blog at: mindbodybowl.co.uk
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