My Self-Care Essentials With A Yoga & Meditation Expert

Yesim Yuva’s idea of self-care includes weekly massages, a seasonal organic diet and daily matcha lattes. From morning rituals to how she winds down at the end of a busy week, here are the wellness essentials this yoga and meditation teacher wouldn’t be without.
By Tor West /

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@YESIM_YUVA

I start my day with warm water and apple cider vinegar. As a mum of two, including a new-born, morning rituals aren’t as luxurious as they used to be, but this is my non-negotiable. I’ve been drinking it every morning for ten years. I’ll sometimes add in a teaspoon of honey and a pinch of Himalayan salt. Drinking apple cider vinegar on an empty stomach is a great way to activate the digestive system, balance blood sugar, kill harmful bacteria and support clear skin. 

A matcha latte gives me energy. The perfect matcha latte took time to master but I’ve now got it down to a tee. The secret lies in using a high-quality, ceremonial matcha powder – I rate Kineta Matcha. I blend it with Oatly oat milk which, after trying several brands, is the best for froth and taste. When preparing a matcha latte, stir the matcha with a bamboo whisk and hot water just off the boil until the tea is frothy – never use boiling water.

I swear by Source Naturals Wellness Formula, a powerful combination of herbs and vitamins. IF YOU'RE RUN DOWN, YOU FEEL THE EFFECTS INSTANTLY.

Dry body brushing before a shower boosts circulation. I used to be sceptical about body brushing but since trying it a couple of months ago I haven’t looked back. It improves cell renewal and eliminates toxins – it’s a great way to start the day. I use Aromatherapy Associates’ body brush – it’s made with super soft cactus bristles and has a useful hand strap which makes it easy to use.

Meditation keeps me grounded. However, with a new-born, I don’t have the time for a regular practice, but being a mum means you need to use the time you have for self-care as best as you can. I try to meditate when breastfeeding first thing in the morning – whether it’s with my eyes open looking at my little one or closing my eyes for a few minutes and focusing on my breath. It helps me find stillness, even for a couple of minutes before the day starts. If you struggle with meditation, try a guided meditation. Deepak Chopra’s meditations continue to inspire me – they remind me that everything in life moves constantly. 

@YESIM_YUVA

You can’t beat a bowl of porridge for breakfast. I never get bored of a warm bowl of porridge – it feels nourishing and is a great source of slow-release energy. I always use Flahavan’s organic oats and Nutty Bruce’s unsweetened organic activated almond milk, and top it with organic blueberries, raspberries and bananas. I also enjoy Rude Health’s Ultimate Muesli and, if I fancy a smoothie, I’ll use Form’s Pureblend Protein Powder, which is free from flavourings. I am not a fan of flavoured protein powders and would rather use natural flavourings – like a banana or a couple of dates – to naturally sweeten things up.

My diet is best described as organic, fresh and local. Nutrition is a form of self-care and what you eat has the potential to transform your health. I eat a lot of fish – especially salmon – as well as seasonal vegetables and salad throughout the week, and on the weekend eat as a family as much as possible. On Saturday mornings, we have croissants and seeded spelt and sourdough bread with apricot and cherry jam and goat’s cheese. I was vegan for many years, but after having children I made the decision to eat a more diverse diet to ensure I was getting enough protein, which can be more of a challenge on a plant-based diet. 

Conscious eating means you can enjoy all your favourite foods. I used to be addicted to chocolate and couldn’t get through the day without eating a chocolate bar. Over the years I’ve developed a healthier relationship with sugar – the secret is to share it or just take a few bites, taking your time to savour what’s in your mouth. Conscious eating really does minimise cravings. However, I won’t sweat it if I end up eating a whole portion of tiramisu – it’s my guilty pleasure. 

Supplements keep my immunity on track. I use BetterYou Vitamin D every morning – the spray formula makes it so easy to take. I use a higher dose of 4,000iU in the winter and a lower dose in the summer. I also take Source Naturals Wellness Formula, a powerful combination of herbs, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. If you’re feeling run down, you feel the effects almost instantly. Bare Biology’s collagen supplements, meanwhile, provide quality proteins to support the skin, joints and muscles, while placenta capsules have been a game-changer for my mood and energy. The placenta has incredible health benefits – it’s rich in iron, amino acids and essential fats. Placenta medicine can also help reduce postnatal bleeding, encourage a healthy milk supply and balance hormones. Alexa Dean, a birth doula and pregnancy teacher, formulated the capsules for me. 

@YESIM_YUVA

Yoga keeps my mind strong. I used to go to the gym three times a week but, since discovering yoga ten years ago, my approach to fitness has completely changed. Yoga keeps me physically and mentally strong. If I’m not practising at home, you’ll find me at Indaba Yoga – it’s such a great studio. I also walk for 30-60 minutes daily – fresh air helps maintain healthy brain function, growth and healing, and it’s important to spend time in nature. Even better if you can take your shoes off and walk barefoot – this is known as grounding. Countless studies show that when you physically connect with the earth it calms your nervous system, reduces inflammation and improves blood flow. 

Staying connected to loved ones is important. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts and know it’s okay to cry and complain from time to time, just be sure to let it go afterwards. It’s important to remember that life is a rollercoaster with its ups and downs, and that not every day will be a good day. It can also help to practise gratitude. Encourage yourself to reflect on all that you’re thankful for – whether it’s something you do daily, weekly or monthly, practising gratitude can help you feel more positive and improve wellbeing. 

Encourage yourself to REFLECT ON THAT YOU'RE THANKFUL FOR. Practising gratitude can help you feel more positive and improve wellbeing.

Yoga increases melatonin production and aids deep sleep. I used to be a terrible sleeper. Prior to being a yoga and meditation teacher, pressure, stress and high expectations were part of my daily life as a senior project manager. My brain was in overdrive from morning to night – whether it was my to-do list, the future or next steps. Plus, I was my own biggest critic. Today, I’d say 75% of my negative thought patterns have gone, and it’s all thanks to yoga. Yoga has a power to bring you back to the present moment and create stillness in the mind. If you struggle with your sleep, try 20 minutes of yoga in the evening – stretching the body will release tension and blockages, while the final savasana will send you into a state of deep relaxation.

Reading before bed improves sleep quality and brain health. Not everyone is a voracious reader, but you don’t need to be to reap the benefits. I’m a firm believer that there’s a genre for everyone. I love non-fiction that focuses on health and wellbeing. My all-time favourite is The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer but always find myself dipping in and out of Healing Remedies by C. Norman Shealy, The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben and Pharmacy of The Soul by Osho. 

At the end of a busy week, it doesn’t get better than a massage. Secret Spa is great – there’s something even more relaxing about having a massage at home. I also love reflexology for instant calm and will pop into the Reflex Shop in Notting Hill when I have time. When I don’t have time for a massage or need a dose of self-care at home, I take ten minutes to massage Neals Yard Remedies’ Aromatic Massage Oil into my skin – the scent is incredible and it instantly calms frazzled nerves. With geranium to uplift, lavender to aid relaxation and marjoram to warm and soothe, it’s TLC in a bottle.

For more information or to try a class with Yesim, visit YesimYuva.com & follow @Yesim_Yuva on Instagram.

@YESIM_YUVA

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