Toxic Positivity

We’ve all got that friend that when the shit has really hit the fan in our lives, whether it’s the breakdown of a relationship or a bad time at work…they are there with their unbridled positivity… ‘things are meant to happen for a reason’, ‘it will pass, give it time’. Those silver lining seekers. They are everywhere. And for full disclosure I know I have been one of those people at some point in my life with friends and family. Trying to ‘fix’ problems and come up with solutions with the desire to help someone you care about.


Let me just pause here and say that there is nothing wrong with being positive. Of course, there is not! However, being positive becomes problematic if it’s the only thing you hear.


Toxic positivity is the notion that we should only focus on positive emotions and the positive aspects of life. It’s the belief that if we ignore the difficult emotions and the parts of our life that aren’t working as well, we’ll be much happier.


You will often hear people within the wellness and yoga world preaching ‘Love and Light’ at every opportunity.


When people disclose that they are having a hard time with feelings of sadness or lack of motivation I have often heard ‘Write down all the things you are grateful for, it really changes your mindset’…or ‘You just need to think positively’…


Dr Susan David is a Clinical Psychologist and post Doctorate from Yale whose work on emotions spans over two decades. She is the author of the inspiring book Emotional Agility and lends her insight into why she calls ‘bullshit’ on this approach.


Dr David explains that when we are told to change the narrative and to think positively…we are taking ourselves away from living in the present. By turning the page on those real emotions, however messy they may be, we are not acknowledging that they are our reality.


When someone asks you to write a list of things to be ‘grateful’ for, what they are actually signalling is ‘my comfort is more important than dealing with your reality’.


Trying to impose happy thoughts on difficult ones, is nigh on impossible because it’s simply just not easy to turn off negative thoughts like a tap. The oversimplification of how we process emotions can be detrimental to our mental health.


Our consumer culture promotes the idea that we can control and fix most of the things that bother us, and that we should get rid of or replace the things we can’t. Unhappy in your relationship? Swipe right. Not productive enough? – download an app.


In studios and online, yoga instructors and wellness influencers try to fix unhappiness and dissatisfaction with inspirational quotes, ‘good vibes only’ and memes of the day. Sentiments of ‘Love and light’ in these spaces are not helpful and at worst can amount to spiritual bypassing and gaslighting


Rather than by-passing difficult emotions and thoughts, as yoga practitioners and educators we want to be able to provide a space where people can show up just as they are. We also need to understand the limitations of our training. The vast majority of Yoga teachers are neither counsellors nor therapists.


Fundamentally when someone is struggling with their emotions, we want to have those feelings acknowledged. Toxic positivity tells people that what they are feeling is somehow wrong. It can bring up feelings of guilt for not being able to think positively, further exacerbating a negative thought loop.

And lastly, but probably most detrimentally, it prevents growth. Avoiding thoughts and feelings that we may find painful to confront ultimately denies us the opportunity for self-study or Svādhyaya – one of the virtuous observances (Niyamas) in yoga.


In a world that says ‘be positive’ all the time, during the pandemic that has been tough. We have all felt scared, weary, confused. The act of surviving this pandemic has been mentally and physically exhausting and that’s without helpings of toxic productivity on top! Yes, I’m calling it out. You know the ones… those people who have learned a new skill, language etc and found themselves…I mean really?! Come on?! For most of us, self-study is incredibly difficult in normal circumstances let alone in the middle of a pandemic?!?


Covid has (rightly) induced feelings of fearfulness and anxiety. If we try to make ourselves live in a world of how we think it should be and we think we should feel things can start to get problematic. We are not living in the ‘should tense’. There is no such thing. We live in the present. This lack of being able to express and hold space for how we feel authentically, expressing our humanity as it is in its wholeness contributes to emotional fragility not resilience.


The truth is, our ‘negative’ emotions are there for a reason. Negativity is normal and is simply a part of the human condition, they are the signposts that allow us to understand ourselves better.


Now, before you rush to go and throw your gratitude journal on the fire…I’m not saying don’t journal, I’m saying, journal but it’s fine to also feel not ok AT THE SAME TIME. For example, I can feel fearful of the uncertainty that the pandemic brings, but I can also feel grateful for the quality time it’s given me with my kids. I can hold the emotions of fear and gratitude together, because they can and do coexist. There is no need to make a binary choice.


Toxic positivity can be seen in the yoga and wellness industry when we discuss social and racial justice, accessibility and equity in our spaces.


The toxic positivity peddler might say we shouldn’t get involved with those discussions as they are ‘too political’ or ‘negative’…you may even hear ‘we are all equal in yoga’ and the classic ‘discussions about [insert race, ability, gender, body size, age, socioeconomic status, religion here] just cause more division’


The truth is, unless we hold space for these difficult conversations, with compassion, we will never dismantle the systems that hold so many people back from participating and contributing fully in society. We lose the opportunity to learn from each other and understand diverse perspectives. Placing the burden on the identities that have been marginalised to remain positive isn’t helpful and doesn’t do anything to redress the systemic oppression that they face.


So, now that we know ‘staying positive’ doesn’t always help what can we do? And how can our yoga practice help?


  1. Start to see

What do I mean see? You’re going to say ‘I see people all the time?’ I mean see them. Really see them for their whole humanity. Recognise when someone is feeling low anxious and give them the space and time to feel all of those feelings. Without judgment. Without the need to fix it.


  1. Breathe

Deep breathing techniques can help when we feel low or anxious. By simply focusing on the natural cadence of the breath either as part of meditation or relaxation before rest can help bring us back into our centre


Nadi Sodhana or alternate nostril breathing is a wonderful way of calming and balancing the Parasympathetic and Sympathetic nervous systems. It can be done physically or simply by visualising the breath moving in and out of the nostrils.


  1. Journal

I told you not to bin the journal!! There is a place for it. It can be a way of recognising the whole range of emotions – not just things we should be grateful for. It can be used as a way of understanding the duality of our emotions and that whatever we feel, it is valid.


An example might be ‘I am anxious about restrictions being lifted post pandemic AND I’m also excited for the opportunity to see friends and socialise again’


  1. Self-Care

This doesn’t need to be an expensive massage or a spa day. Sometimes this can mean taking yourself off to bed an hour earlier, going for a walk, catching up with a friend or cooking your favourite meal. Self-care is the opposite of toxic positivity. Rather than an empty ‘stay positive’, this helps us by acting from a place where we can take meaningful action to look after our physical, mental and emotional health.

So, the next time you’re invited to ‘think positively’ or ‘grin and bear it’, allow yourself the time and space you need to recognise and sit with your feelings. May it serve as opportunity for us to see the light at the end of the tunnel…or at the very least, catch our breath until we have the strength to reach for it.



Enough of the McYoga

McDonalds fills a hole; you’re know what you’re getting and it’s fine for a one-off treat. But if you want something that’s sustainable, that’s nourishing and that elevates you to becoming a healthier person, something that hasn’t been stripped of its nutritional value, we all know that McDonalds is not where it’s at.

All too often I see yoga schools that are churning out students trained to teach McYoga; watered-down gymnastics with a few minutes of deep breathing at the end. And students who are speeding through the course ultimately focused on being able to teach the physical postures correctly and safely.

The yoga that I teach, classical or Raja Yoga, is built on the foundations of ancient Indian sage Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras – a collection of nearly 200 Sanskrit aphorisms on the theory and practice of yoga. Within the Yoga Sutras Patanjali describes The Eight Limbs of Yoga, which include meditation, mindful breathing and social ethics. Yoga postures, known as Asana, are just one of those eight and they are underpinned by a rich framework of tradition, wisdom and practise that ultimately helps us to lead a happy and healthy life – not just fit into size 10 jeans.

Yes, McYoga will produce a fleeting endorphin rush and feel good that you’ve done an hour’s class and sweated a lot. Then you will wake up the next day and won’t feel any better because you won’t have had the benefit of meditation and mindfulness on your mental wellbeing. McYoga is not going to give you a sense of calm and peace in your mind and in your heart. Nor will it give you the ability to give the best of yourself and get the best back from people.

I learnt yoga in India where the breath, the meditation and the community were the driving forces of my love of the practise. When I came back to the UK, the yoga I discovered was a diluted version, unrecognisable from the authentic practise that I had learnt and absolutely lacking in diversity and inclusivity – more of that here*. It was culturally appropriated yoga tailored to an audience that the teachers and practitioners had been led to believe wanted that.

McYoga is riddled with poorly judged and downright offensive cultural faux pas; whether it’s the careless misuse or mispronunciation of the thoughtful formal Hindi greeting namaste; the disrespectful placement of Buddha statues on yoga studio floors in an attempt to look ‘exotic’; inappropriate use of precious mala prayer beads during class; or offensively positioned or incorrectly scribed tattoos of deities or symbols of sacred mantras. McYoga has become big business with its expensive apparel, luxury retreats and complicated diet plans. As yoga speaker, teacher and yoga culture advocate Susanna Barkataki says, “My culture is being stripped of its meaning and sold back to me in forms that feel humiliating.”

During colonisation, Indians weren’t allowed to teach anything spiritual because it contradicted the Christian faith, and Sanskrit was suppressed because it was deemed to be a language of savages. So the colonised version of yoga that came to the West from India was already a watered-down version. So you might not think that it’s a big deal to wear your mala beads around your neck or say namaste incorrectly, but actually it’s all part of a culture that was severely oppressed under British rule for nearly 300 years.

I underwent four years of classical Hatha yoga training in a fully authentic environment in India. I learnt alongside a mix of Indians and ex-pats, many of whom were there for the love of the practise rather than to train as teachers. I still wasn’t a qualified teacher when I left India.

We have appropriated the culture of yoga, packaged it up and said that at the end of 200 hours of training and basic philosophy and physical practise, you can become a teacher. In India there are now so many yoga schools that have cottoned on to the fact that this is apparently how Westerners want to be taught that they, too, have started teaching yoga in this way and earning handsomely from it.

We have taken a culture, stripped it of its authenticity, commercialised it and packaged it and we are now sending it back to the culture from where it came in a damaged way. In turn, they are now selling it to everybody as the authentic way; so people travel to Goa or Bali or Thailand to learn yoga on a false promise. I can guarantee that there won’t be any Indian yoga teachers learning in that quick-fix way. Rather, there will be teachers capitalising on that demand for the stamp that says, ‘I leant it in India’.

I am not the yoga police and I am certainly not saying that everyone is doing it wrong. My view is simple; if you want to practise power yoga, or goat yoga, or nude yoga, or whatever else in the privacy of your own home, go ahead. But as soon as you bring that into a public sphere you need to understand that there is the potential – intentional or otherwise – to harm the culture on which you are basing your whole practise.

The true tragedy is that this is a conversation that has been rumbling along for decades. Why then, has nothing changed? Why then, is a sacred practise rooted in ancient Indian philosophy that has evolved over thousands of years still being diluted and repackaged and churned out like a hamburger factory?

I truly believe that nobody comes into yoga wanting to cause harm and that most yoga teachers want to know that what they are teaching is authentic. Yet in order to make a living, many feel that they have to alter their practise to fit a certain mould, because that’s what their students want. But if you’ve grown up on McDonalds, you’re going to think that’s all there is. I’m not saying that everything in yoga is going to float everyone’s boat, but you don’t know unless you try.

I want to help a new generation of yoga teachers and studio owners to understand why it’s so important for them and their students to honour the roots of yoga. Do you or do your teachers have a strong grounding of history and philosophy, so you can offer that to your students if they want to learn more? In my experience, almost all of my students are genuinely grateful to learn and understand where yoga comes from.

I tell my students, “I’m going to do some practise at the beginning of class that is authentic to how I was taught. I would never expect you to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable, so if you don’t want to participate just sit and observe, or I will give you another option. But if you want to join in, this is a really safe space.”

I always chant at the beginning of sun salutations and I will tell my class, “You don’t have to chant with me, but if the sounds resonates with you take a moment to observe your thoughts and feelings.” It can be as simple as that. It’s not about ramming spirituality, Hinduism, Buddhism down people’s throats, it’s about making them aware that this is the root of the practise and this is why we do it.

I have had the privilege of learning my authentic practise in India in a very organic way, it wasn’t taught from a book, and I understand that very few people will have had that privilege. But it’s time for yoga lovers, especially teachers and teacher trainers, to take responsibility and take action to finally put an end to McYoga for good, before the true practise of the gift of yoga is lost forever.

*We all have a responsibility Blog post

We all have a responsibility…

I am not a speaker for all people of colour in yoga and, while I know a lot about cultural awareness, I have blind spots – as we all do. I cannot begin to understand what it is like being a black person living in the US right now, I can only empathise and try to connect with those feelings from a place of humility.

I am, however, an expert in my story, my truth and my experiences. And I believe it’s time that everyone who shares my love of yoga calls out the lack of diversity and inclusivity in the practise and takes positive steps to effect true and meaningful change.

I am of Mauritian heritage, although the UK has been my home since I was born. I grew up being one of only a handful of brown people among a sea of otherwise all white faces in my primary school in Manchester in the eighties. At times that was challenging. I am now one of a relatively small group of yoga practitioners of colour in the UK and there is a clear lack of diversity and inclusion at the decision-making table of the UK’s yoga governing body, Yoga Alliance UK. That is challenging, too. Given that yoga is a practise founded by people of colour, it’s also rather surprising.

I first learnt yoga when I was living in India in my early thirties. Back then I had no desire to become a yoga teacher, in fact, such was my reluctance that I had to be dragged along to my first class by a friend. But I quickly found my calling. There, yoga was about physical postures to an extent, but it was also about meditation, about breath, about community and inclusion and about self-reflection. Each class was related back to a particular theme within yoga philosophy and its inescapable links with spirituality (Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism), albeit in a non-religious, inclusive way.

When I returned to the UK, I went to different classes in different studio spaces, but I found that none of them resembled the yoga I had learnt in India. Teachers were nearly all young white, super flexible females, all slim and bendy and with a focus on the physical postures, often at the expense of everything else. It felt like the true essence of yoga had been airbrushed out – more on that here .

I suddenly felt really alien in a space that had felt so much like home to me during my time in India. I didn’t feel comfortable raising my concerns because I was made to believe that I had got it wrong, that I had got yoga wrong. I was made to feel like ‘the other’ because I hadn’t learnt it in the approved or ‘normal’ way. It makes me really sad that I allowed those feelings to sit with me and didn’t have the confidence to challenge it at the time.

Search #yoga on Instagram and the resulting stream of images is of a homogenous group of white ladies doing very bendy things. You will see very few people of colour and even fewer people practising breath or spirituality or sitting in meditation because it’s not considered to be palatable to a Western audience.

Meditation is about achieving that absolute state of consciousness and awareness that is completely different to a waking state. It’s achieving that stillness of the mind without a single-pointed focus that is completely rejuvenating. Ultimately, meditation is about peeling back the layers of who you are, so that you become more self-aware. Isn’t it ironic, then, that this essential strand of the practise has been white-washed.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told it might be better if I don’t do meditation in my classes, because people just want yoga for the fitness. It’s not uncommon for people to leave at the end of a yoga class in the UK before meditation and relaxation. Whether it is because they don’t have time, they don’t understand the benefit, or they are simply disrespectful, I have no idea.

The ancient Indian sage Patanjali described yoga in the Yoga Sutras (the authoritative text on yoga) as “Yogah chitta vritti nirodhah”, which means the cessation of patterns of consciousness. This never ceases to amaze me because in two-and-a-half millennia it’s stayed the same and we’re only now beginning to understand what he meant.

When it comes to ingrained cultural bias, I’m not responsible for your learning, it has to be something you take on for yourself. It’s your responsibility to educate yourself and not solely through my lens. When it comes to yoga and yogic philosophy, I can point you to the Sanskrit term Svadhyaya which means the study of self and introspection that can help to reduce the filters of how we see ourselves and the world we live in.

It starts with teachers and studio owners. Do you know the diversity make-up of the area where your studio is based? If you are based in an area with an ethnic minority population of 68%, but you don’t have anywhere near 68% minority ethnic people coming through your doors, why is that? Are your teachers reflective of the communities you serve?

Think about what information you are passing on to your students and through what lens they are interpreting it. If you’re going to talk about yogic philosophy, think about who wrote the book you’re quoting from and whether it is a Western or an indigenous voice. If you’re teaching yoga it needs to be from a holistic perspective, not the narrow definition of what yoga means to you or how you were taught.

Think wider. Open the scope of your teaching to include The Eight Limbs of Yoga, not just the physical poses. And when you engage with teachers and students from diverse backgrounds, do so with openness, respect and humility. Remember, always, that we have borrowed this practice from the indigenous people of India and it is a gift. Treat it as such.

What kind of privilege do you have and did you grow up with? As a female I will suffer sexism and as a brown person I will suffer racism. But I also know that as a brown person I am more aligned and acceptable to a white person than maybe I would if I was of Black African or West Indian heritage. I am a cis female (my gender identity matches the sex I was assigned at birth), heterosexual, married, middle class and highly educated to degree level, so I have all the privilege that comes with it.

It’s essential to look inward before we can look outward, so we need to understand our own lens and what privilege filters we have on the world. It can be painful and uncomfortable to strip that back and face our own prejudices and I’ve seen a lot of people struggle with it, myself included.

I guess the difference is this; a white person has the choice to go through this process or not because, either way, their life will continue as it always has. A person of colour occupying the same spaces does not have that choice. We have to confront this uncomfortable feeling of being the outsider and not belonging, because from the day we were born we have always been the ‘other’.

We need to be compassionate with ourselves because I truly believe that no one comes into yoga wanting to cause harm. And with that compassion there needs to come patience, because we’re going to make mistakes. Yet each and every one of us – from students to teachers, practitioners to studio owners – has a responsibility to listen and to learn, to seek out and amplify different voices and to ensure that yoga is inclusive, representative, diverse and free from prejudice. So that no one, ever, feels like an outsider.

Rediscovering Ayurveda

I have Mauritian heritage, born in the UK to Mauritian parents. If you know or have had the pleasure of visiting Mauritius you will no doubt be struck by its beauty both of its stunning coastline and beaches, mountains, but also by its people. There are no indigenous people of Mauritius, we are as a result of colonialism an amalgamation of so many vibrant cultures – Indian, African Kréole, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, British and French to name but a few.

My family are a mix of Kréole and Indian Mauritian heritage. Like many Mauritians that were invited by the UK government in the 1960s and 70s to work in the NHS, my parents when they emigrated brought with them all their knowledge from home. Living on a tropical island affords Mauritians access to a large variety of flora and fauna, fresh fruit and vegetables. So, recipes, traditional remedies and a few old wife’s tales thrown in for good measure came as part and parcel of my upbringing in the UK.

Born and raised in a white middle class suburb I grew up knowing no different, I just thought this was just the way things were. We would eat a what I would term ‘Western’ food pasta, etc out of convenience, but the majority of the time, food was home cooked, and traditionally Mauritian. I have no idea how my parents managed this, both working full time as health professionals.

Reflecting back on that period of time growing up, my brother and I used to hate being dragged around all the Asian supermarkets in Rusholme Manchester on a Saturday. Why couldn’t we just go to Sainsbury’s like everybody else? We would come home with all sorts in the shopping basket…fresh sugar cane, plantain, chayote, bitter gourd, bottle gourd, ginger fresh turmeric, curry leaves, chillies and all kinds of greens… nothing you would ever see in a regular supermarket. The car ride home always smelt heady and vibrant, and although we bemoaned the hours it took, we loved the resulting weekend feast.

We would eat a meat or vegetable curry or stew with rice on the side, accompanied lentils or dhal, perhaps rotis and heaps of greens always with most meals. I remember asking mum why we didn’t have ‘normal’ food like all my friends – the staunch reply was always – because it’s good for you.

My dad has Type 2 diabetes, and often we ate bitter gourd and kale. Whist I really turned my nose up at this at the time, I now know that bitter gourd has several Phyto-chemicals that have shown to have insulin regulating properties.

If you got teenage breakouts it was turmeric to reduce inflammation mashed into a paste with neem leaves (feuille lila) and applied to the face- this was met with particular resistance from my teenage self!

For headaches, I remember in particular at exam time, sitting on the floor in front on my mum whilst cold castor oil was poured onto my scalp and gently massaged in. Pressure points were found, and hair gently tugged to release tension. Mum said the pain would ease, and inevitably it did. It’s still one of the first things I ask my mum to do for me when I see her.

As I got older, I left home, went to university, and got my first graduate job. During that time I drifted away from what I knew regarding traditional Mauritian food…with a busy work and social life, I felt I had no time to waste on preparing meals for just myself… and to be honest, there was a desire for me to fit in and be ‘normal’ like my housemates. The next few years past in a blur, I had an extremely successful career, and I worked incredibly hard. I met my now husband and we had our first child. My parents would always say that I needed to slow down, eat properly – ‘make some black lentils’ mum would say – even gifting me a pressure cooker as if to remove any excuses I might have had! Looking back on photos from that time, I was looking tired, and drawn. At the time I put this down to juggling work and motherhood. It wasn’t until my husband and I embarked on an expatriate assignment to southern India, that I had an unexpected re-acquaintance with my Indian roots. The subsequent four years spent living in India are where I learnt yoga and fundamentally re-discovered my heritage rooted in Ayurveda.

Upon arriving in Bangalore, I discovered I was pregnant with our second child and I knew that I’d need help with two children under the age of two at home.

We had the pleasure and privilege of having three wonderful ladies Rathna, Hema and Nagamma help us settle into India and help raise our children.

Our cook Hema would often whip up dishes that were so similar to mums cooking, that it felt like I was coming home.

Hema, Rathna and Nagamma re-invigorated my passion for cooking and ayurvedic nutrition. We looked at Viyras – which foods would generate heat in the winter – root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, turnips bring a heating effect to the metabolism and recipes using cooling foods such as buttermilk, aubergines, curd and bananas providing welcome respite during the blistering hot summers.

The lack of availability of convenience food meant that all the fruits and vegetables were seasonal and grown locally. (I hasten to add with the burgeoning prosperous middle class and dual earner households, as in the West, this is rapidly changing).

I remember after the birth of our second child Rathna having a heated discussion with Hema about the food I needed to eat to help me recover – certain foods for increasing lactation for breastfeeding, others needed to be avoided to reduce the risk of colic. Everyone had their own particular recipe of what was best and when it should be given. I also had, on advice from my consulting obstetrician, a massage with pure unscented oils 24hours after giving birth. A little indulgent you might think? A teeny bit Real Ex-Pat Housewives of Bangalore-esque? No, this is standard practice. There are many benefits outlined in Ayurveda regarding abhyanga – its purpose is to stimulate the lymphatic system, eliminate toxins and in my case, increase circulation and promote lactation.

I feel the need here to say, that advice or guidance wasn’t dispensed solely by women or anecdotally. If you went to see your doctor or a paediatrician, this guidance was offered alongside any medication that might be required. For example, if you had a cold, avoid drinking milk or dairy products because of the production of mucus or phlegm. Do saline nasal irrigation to clear the nose etc. Initially, I was sceptical, but living within this culture which was so similar to my heritage and (obviously) doing my own research over the years has helped me to understand that Ayurveda isn’t a replacement of conventional western medicine, rather the two can and should sit side by side.

Consuming dairy products doesn’t necessarily contribute to the over production of mucus in the body. However, because milk is an emulsion, when mixed with saliva, droplets cluster together in what’s known as flocculation. It also occurs with soy milk. It’s this sensation in the mouth and throat that people tend to assume is mucus even though it technically isn’t.

Clearing the nasal passages with a neti pot has long been used in Ayurveda as part of a daily kriya or cleansing routine. If you have had young children with a cold, you have probably had the joy of trying to get little ones to do this with a saline spray – not for the fainthearted. Nasal cleansing with sterile saline water was also recommended to ease congestion. The benefits of nasal cleansing are well documented, and I tend to practice this in the winter months to relieve cold symptoms, you will find this advice is now routinely given by General Medical Practitioners in the UK to alleviate congestion. You might be directed to a fancy saline spray, but it’s basically the same thing.

Fast forward four years of being immersed in India, and it was time to come back to the UK.  Saying it was a shock to the system was an understatement. So many of my expat friends had warned me that repatriating was the hardest part of the assignment, I never believed them. They were so right.

I came back to the UK, settled and found that yoga and associated aspects of well-being had become BIG business in the four short years I had been away. Social media was flooded with influencers jumping on to the latest trend… turmeric lattes, paleo, so-called superfoods, clean eating, raw foods and even no food?? Everywhere I looked there were gluten free pastas, pre-packaged muesli, energy balls and kombucha – all promising to fill me to the brim with health and vitality.

It struck me that in the busyness of our western lives, many of us are looking for that quick fix, that magic bullet to cure all our ills. I can tell you simply that this doesn’t exist.  Gluten free pasta is made with refined flour, and most packaged muesli is highly processed. Kombucha is actually incredibly high in sugar, and if you want an energy ball, you may as well eat an Indian cake laddu.

The turmeric latte or golden milk has been drunk for hundreds of years in India as a way of alleviating symptoms of the common cold it’s called Haldi Doodh. It costs pennies to make but we’d pay over the odds for it, because it’s from a particular health food shop, or an influencer is drinking it!

The current increase in vegetarianism and veganism is amazing from a health and environmental perspective. But those that believe it is in line with Ayurvedic principles are sadly mistaken. This is simply because not everybody’s constitution is suited to it and Ayurveda treats us as individuals not as one size fits all.

I honestly believe that we need to re-learn what we seem to have forgotten, eating and nourishing our bodies based on our individual needs, and intuition rather than what seems to be trending.

In other words, Ayurveda is not simply about taking an herbal formula and waiting for the results. Instead, Ayurveda encourages you to be an active participant in your own journey toward healing. This involves learning about your constitution, the food you eat and your daily routine.

Whether you choose to make a couple of small adjustments or choose to embrace it in its entirety remember to be patient and persevere as you make these changes. The body changes with the seasons and evolves at its own pace, so watch and observe with kindness. Some changes may be long lasting, others only for a couple of months, be prepared to adapt according to how you feel. The most important take home for me is this, the changes you implement should feel positive, natural and meaningful.

Superfood or Superfad?

Growing up, in a family of Mauritian heritage I was always encouraged to help out in with the cooking – usually peeling garlic and ginger, and cleaning lentils (yes this was a thing…) With both parents working in as nurses time was of the essence. Food prep was from fresh, depending on what was in season. No surprises. Usually rice, a meat or fish dish, pulses and greens, always. Looking back, there was never anything surprising on the plate. Those simple yet wholesome recipes were passed on to me and I cook them for my family.

I like to think that I’m pretty solid in my knowledge of food and where it comes from, I don’t see myself as a follower of fads? Yet look in my spice cupboard and you will find sumac, za’atar and a range of other spices and ingredients that my mum had never heard of…

From smashed avocados to turmeric shots, kale chips to charcoal smoothies… in recent times we have seen a dizzying array of food crazes. Yet however frivolous they may seem; food trends have the power to affect the way we all live…even the innocuous avo on toast…

Our changing tastes have consequences for us as consumers and for the people who produce the food. Adverse consequences are inevitable when millions of people shift their eating habits all at once, it’s like having too many kids on one end of a see-saw.

Let’s take the avocado as an example. Between Europe and the US we consume 80% of the worlds avocado production. In real terms each UK citizen went from consuming just one avocado in 2000; to 7 in 2018. To feed that demand, Mexico, the world’s largest producer, has tripled its production. In doing so, it has cleared thousands of hectares of forest. Hectare for hectare, avocado plantations use more water than forests, so the growing regions have been doubly hit by reduced forests, reduced biodiversity and depletion of mountain springs.

No-one who eats avocados would ever stop to think that that their food choices would have such consequences. Yet, when our eating patterns change so frivolously across the planet, there is no time to consider what the effects of our changing tastes will be.

Food trends spread like wild fire around the world due significantly to the influence of social media. So great is the pull of the ‘instagrammable’ brunch that many cafes and restaurants design their menus and lighting around their client’s desire to share their meal online…as I type this there are 391million hashtagged posts for #food on Instagram (May 2020).

It is simple fact that many of the hyped new foods of recent times are the ones with the largest marketing budgets. The food industry pays scientists and food bloggers to promote certain foods at the expense of others.

Those techniques mask the important fact that a healthy diet need not include a single fashionable ingredient. No one superfood can equal the value we get from eating a wide and varied diet…but that just seems like old news and how can you hashtag that?