Annie Clarke of Mind Body Bowl holds a pure and realistic approach to wellbeing. Like us, she believes that living well depends on much more than just the food you're eating. A trained yoga teacher, Annie teaches classes across London, hosts retreats, and also runs a blog offering nutritious recipes and self-love advice. She has just released a book too, bringing each of these topics together in one place as a collection of lifestyle tips and tasty treats. Below, she shares her transformational journey, leading from her past to where she is now, and how she stays in the present moment day to day and handles the waves of life.
"I am usually up with or before sunrise. It sounds poetic but it is actually because work calls. I teach first thing in the morning most days. I used to use that time for my own yoga practice or to work out, but I actually love holding that space for other people now, to help them get their day off to a good start, even if it does mean setting my alarm for 5.30am! What I love about yoga is that every practice is different. You could do the same flow every day and always feel something new. It gives me a way to connect with myself and to learn and understand more about my mind and body and of course to be able to facilitate that for my students too is really special.
If I am teaching, I get up, take a probiotic, jump in the shower and then rush out the door as quickly as I can get dressed. It doesn’t feel panicked though – it is my little routine that feels quite lovely. I’ll always fill up a big bottle of water to drink on my journey or while I teach. And I love to cycle if the weather allows, as it helps me to feel refreshed and energised when I get to the studio. If I’m not teaching, I still try to get up early, make a hot drink and then get myself to a class. It makes me feel productive while taking time for myself! Breakfast during the week usually consists of porridge, a smoothie or avocado on toast. Oh, and on Tuesday’s, we often make pancakes! The five essential morning ingredients you'll usually find on my breakfast table are oats, almond milk, nut butter (almond, cashew, or peanut), frozen berries and coconut oil (think bulletproof coffee, coconut porridge or even scrambled eggs). My healthiest idea of breakfast is to create something balanced. Something like a smoothie with protein powder, porridge with nut butter, granola and hemp seeds on top, or scrambled eggs and spinach on toast. Qnola is also the perfect addition to any breakfast, especially sprinkled on top of porridge or a smoothie bowl. It tastes delicious, looks beautiful and you know you are being good to your body! My favourite way to enjoy it is sprinkled over a bowl of porridge with a spoonful of nut butter and coconut yoghurt. Heaven!
My most indulgent breakfast (but still usually made with natural ingredients) is pancakes, made with banana, oats, protein powder, sometimes eggs, and almond milk - topped with anything any everything!
If I'm teaching or practicing in the morning, I tend to start with something grounding and relaxing, then move through a gentle but dynamic flow, finishing in a way that makes my students leave feeling really relaxed, to set the nice tone for their day.
To wake up well myself, I start each day by thinking about my day the night before. Even if I don’t get my bag packed, it always feels good to have an outline of timings and what I need to take with me for the day. My ideal morning, though not very realistic, especially during the week, would involve food, yoga, friends and family.
One thing I need to do more of in the mornings is meditate and do a short yoga flow, but this doesn’t really happen when I’m teaching as I’m already up so early. But I would like to do more of that. And staying off my phone for as long as possible! One thing I need to do less of in the morning is press snooze. The days where wake up and get up on my first alarm are always the best.
The best place I’ve ever woken up is actually in my own bed, where I feel most cosy and warm. But also, nothing beats a beach hut!
The first thing I see in the morning is the view over the Olympic Park. We tend to sleep with the blinds open and have big windows, so when it’s light enough, that’s my view. In the summer I watch the sun rise from my bed every morning which is a pretty great way to begin the day!
The favourite breakfasts are pretty much anything 26 Grains makes. Oh, and I would love to go back to my Yoga School in India where I did my training, for the breakfasts there. The fresh fruit was so delicious!
If I'm travelling a lot, it is important for me to stay active. I love to try yoga studios in new cities or will do my best to get moving in the hotel gym. I always check before I book to make sure there is somewhere I can at least go for a run or find a gym in the hotel if I am staying for more than a couple of nights.
This morning I: got up and made a warm turmeric and apple cider vinegar tonic, then went off to work out with my best friend Lotte which felt amazing. And then I ate porridge, drank a chicory latte and popped to buy a yoga bag before sitting down to write these answers in front of a fire!
Tomorrow morning I will: be up early to teach! And probably hit snooze a couple of times.
A closing piece of morning advice from me? Never skip breakfast and smile at strangers"