Yogi Carla McGreevy: Best health advice you'd give to others? Rest

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: Carla McGreevy of Connect Yoga, Belfast

Carla McGreevy – life is precious and growing old is a gift denied to many
Gail Bell

1 Up and at it – what is your morning routine?

Most mornings I am up at 5.30 or 6am and when I arrive at wherever I am teaching, I meditate for anything between three and 12 minutes in my car. I say a prayer and a mantra every morning. These can vary, just depending on what's going on in my life or what I feel I need that day. I teach for two hours, then I practise yoga by myself.

2 What might you eat in a typical working day for…

Breakfast? I usually don't eat my first meal until 11am or 12 noon, but I snack on fruit until then. Plums are a favourite at the moment.

Lunch? Lunch could be some sort of bread – I love bread and I think it often gets a bad reputation, needlessly.

Evening meal? Something like vegetables with sweet potato and rice. I do eat meat, but not often, and I feel better when I leave it out of my diet.

3 Is nutrition important to you?

Yes, it is important, as I pay the price with my skin and energy levels if I don't eat properly. I think, as a society, it can often take us to get seriously ill before we pay attention to what we are putting in our bodies. It is such an important part of nurturing yourself, of self-love and self-care.

4 Best meal ever?

That's a tough one – my favourite restaurant in Belfast is Yugo. I love their Asian tapas and you get to have a wee bit of everything. Another favourite is Jumon, which is veggie Asian food. It's very chilled and has a great atmosphere.

5 Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Chocolate – every day. I'm a total sugar addict.

6 Have you ever been on a diet? If so, how did it go?

In my 20s, I experimented with different things, like eating more protein and cutting out carbs, but I've never been super-strict about dieting. I like eating and drinking too much. Life is short and a wee bit of everything does you good, I think.

7 Do you take health supplements?

No, I take apple cider vinegar with water every day for digestion, but that's it.

8 How do you relax?

Yoga helps me relax and I always feel I can sit with peace afterwards. Meditation helps me chill out and I also like to just sit with a coffee and a book in my hand.

9 Teetotal or tipple?

Tipple – I love a glass of red wine and espresso martinis. Tequila and rum are my favourite spirits.

10 Stairs or lift?

Stairs, I hate waiting for anything. I am so impatient, hence my need for meditation and yoga practice.

11 Do you have a daily exercise regime?

I practise vinyasa flow yoga five days a week and one day a week I will concentrate on strength work in the gym.

12 Best tip for everyday fitness?

Move your body and take care of your joints, shoulders and hips – a wee bit of mobility every day in these areas makes a huge difference. If you don't use it, you lose it.

13 On a scale of one to 10, how fit do you think you are and how fit would you like to be?

I'd say I'm a nine in body strength and yoga and about a two in high intensity fitness like boxing. I used to love cardio but now I would die after five minutes of it.

14 Have you tried, or would you try, alternative therapy?

Yes, I love holistic approaches to health. I think we rely too much on doctors to have the answers and we need get to know our bodies ourselves. I've done different healings in Bali and Peru which where fascinating. The knowledge of the older healers and their powers blew my mind.

15 Were school sports happy times or do you have a memory you would rather forget?

I'd rather forget; I was terrible at sports at school.

16 Did you ever have a health epiphany which made you change your lifestyle?

No, but I don't want take my health for granted – we should take care of ourselves in health, not just in sickness. Experiencing people dying from cancer over the years has made me realise that anything can happen and while nothing may prevent it, at least you will know you've done all you can to give yourself the best chance.

17 Best health/lifestyle advice you were ever given and would pass on to others?

Rest. "It takes courage to say 'yes' to rest and play in a culture where exhaustion is seen as a status symbol" to quote the researcher Brene Brown. I struggle to rest; I am constant doer and need more balance between rest and doing – the yin and yang. They both serve a purpose.

18 Who inspires you or who would you try to emulate in terms of fitness / attitude to life?

The researcher Brene Brown (quoted above) and psychologist and Buddhist teacher Tara Brach inspire me. Also, my mentors Edel Doherty (director of Beyond Business Travel), Michelle Kavanagh (psychologist) and yoga teachers Eleanor Steane and Emily Kruser. These women are dedicated to helping people heal and empowering them.

19 What time do you normally get to bed and do you get enough sleep?

I aim for 10pm and try to get at least seven hours a night – 10 on a good night.

20 Would you say you have a healthy attitude towards your own mortality?

Yes, I do – I am spiritual and have a faith which helps with this. Life is so precious and growing old is a gift denied to many. I am very grateful for my life and want to live it as fully as possible and experience as much as I can.

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