21 Sep Health Hero interview: Julie Montagu5 minute read
Julie Montagu is a leading yoga and nutrition teacher. She frequently teaches in Chelsea, London and her four books—Superfoods; Eat Real Food; Superfoods, Superfast and Recharge—have all been bestsellers.
Julie is also a regular on the small screen, and was the BBC Royal Correspondent for the Royal wedding earlier this year. She divides her time between London and Mapperton, her family’s historic house in Dorset.
In this inspiring interview, Julie reveals what yoga has taught her, her favourite thing to eat, and why she believes we all have a superpower…
What inspired you to work in this arena?
When I’m asked why I decided to teach yoga, this is my honest answer: I never want anyone to feel as bad about themselves as I’ve felt about myself in the past.
And that is what inspired me to teach. Yoga—with all its physical, mental and spiritual aspects—helped me to learn to love myself again and I wanted to share what I experienced with others.
I remember the first time I got into crow pose (bakasana). As crazy as it sounds, I must have smiled from ear to ear for a month! Obviously it wasn’t so much about the pose itself, but about the what the pose did for me on an emotional level. My body was stronger, and so was my mind and my heart.
Getting into crow for the first time made me realise that if I put my mind to something—whether it’s a goal, or a dream or following my passions—I could do it! From yoga came a passion for healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle.
What does your typical day look like?
Life became a bit easier this year as my youngest is now old enough to take the school bus. So, not having to do the school run for the first time in nearly 14 years was sort of shocking (but I’m not complaining)!
Once I get all four kids out of the house around 7.45am, my day begins. It usually involves emails, cycling to teach yoga, a few meetings and a quick and healthy lunch at one of my favourite spots in London. Somedays I’ll be blogging and recipe-creating in the afternoons, while other days I’ll be writing my next two books.
I’m always back home by 5pm when all four return from school. Supper is made, homework is done and on three nights of the week, I head out to teach an evening yoga class. My days are jam-packed but I love being busy doing what I love.
What does health mean to you?
I always tell my students that the breath is your superhero power and that you should be using it all the time. We all have the power of the breath within us to help with mood, energy, stress, digestion, anxiety, fear and so on. It’s up to us whether or not we want to tap into it.
“Not only does doing yoga every day help me, it also helps my children. I’m nicer to them!”
I do yoga six days a week without fail. I schedule it into my diary every Sunday night (Sundays are my day off). I found that when I didn’t do something for me, I became grumpier, moodier and not a very happy person. So not only does doing yoga every day help me, it also helps my children. I’m nicer to them!
What do you think are the biggest misperceptions about health today?
I think people believe that you have be thin to be healthy! Honestly, it’s about how you feel on the inside—not on the outside.
If you can incorporate getting at least ONE good meal in a day, two minutes of meditation or breathing, a forward-fold for two minutes so that your head is below the heart and maybe a good affirmation to repeat daily…Well, that’s quite a lot in a little bit of time and not too difficult either! To me, that’s being healthy.
What’s your favourite thing to eat?
I’m currently obsessed with mung bean, sweet potato and pomegranate casserole.
I like cooking with mung beans because they’re filled with goodness and they’re also super affordable. They’re little nutritional powerhouses, packed with vitamins A, B, C and E as well as minerals such as potassium, magnesium, iron and calcium.
If you could give just one piece of advice concerning food, what would it be and why?
Eat to live, don’t live to eat. We’ve become a society that’s obsessed with when we’re getting our next meal, next snack or next drink.
“We’ve become a society that’s obsessed with when we’re getting our next meal”
I think we should let go of that obsession of when our next meal is, and instead put that energy into what we’re putting in our bodies—no matter what time of day!
Who do you look up to, and why?
Debbie Ford, who was one of the most inspirational women. She unfortunately passed away but you can still download many of her inspirational and touching talks. They’re about personal transformation, living outside your shadow and in your own light—truly, truly amazing. She’s totally motivational and I could listen to her podcasts all day.
Tell us something about you that people wouldn’t expect.
I’ve lived in the UK for 20 years now and still have a very American, slightly nasally accent. I certainly haven’t lost it, despite having a husband and four kids who all speak the Queen’s English!
Aside from good health, what do you cherish in your life?
My family—four kids and a husband—and the memories that we make. I always tell my kids: people over things.
Learn more about Julie and her work at juliemontagu.com