I started my working career in a business that must bear a large part of the responsibility for how we, as a society, view ageing – the world of glossy magazines. Everything was exciting, beautiful and always new – the latest serum, the hottest lip shade, the best anti-ageing treatment. On practically every page, the message boiled down to its most basic essence was basically buy this and your looks and lifestyle will improve. Everything was about denying the ageing process and staying smooth-skinned and looking twenty-five forever - like the models we used in our photo shoots.
While this world was very glamorous and seductive – I always knew in my heart-of-hearts, the beauty department wasn’t for me as I constantly battled to get more coverage for natural products, more pages to interview inspiring pioneers in the wellness world and space for photos of yoga poses. Fortunately, the magazine world has moved on and there are excellent beauty editors recommending great products alongside expert tips to make the most of our looks whatever our age - and some of the best titles, finally, have their own wellness sections packed with plenty of healthy inspiration.
But what do you see when we look when you look in the mirror? Are you happy with your reflection or do you wish you could turn back the clock? Like most women in their forties, I am always asking myself, why didn’t I realize how great I looked when I was in twenties? Or asking myself, what happened to those plump cheeks and soft hands and all those attributes of youth I just took for granted?
The truth is I didn’t realise how great I looked ten, fifteen, twenty years ago, because I wasn’t thinking about where I was on my journey though life then. But the truth is, wherever we are on our journey, that moment will always be the same – we will always be the oldest we have been and the youngest we will ever be. Time does not stand still. We can try and hold it off by perfecting and polishing our photos before we post them on social media, we can whiten our teeth or touch up our roots but we are all on our journey through life.
For me the conversation around beauty, and in turn, about ageing changed when I discovered yoga and was inspired to learn more about how to look after my health and wellbeing from the inside out. In Bali, I discovered the secret of inner beauty and how by nourishing ourselves from the inside out with love, gratitude, mindful exercise, natural oils and therapeutic ingredients we make ourselves feel good and in turn look good.
I know when I focus on how I feel and not how I look – I am always at my best. When I exercise, sleep well, meditate and make time for self-care rituals I feel my best and that shines through. Whereas, if I fixate on the lines on my face, worry about why legs aren’t as toned as they used to be despite all those squats and look at my dry, neglected hands – I feel miserable and old.
My yoga practice has also played a large role in teaching me to accept myself for what I am and to be grateful for the amazing things my body can do. All the green juice and sun salutations in the world won’t stop the clock but by adopting a holistic approach to my health and embracing my practice, I know I am making better decisions about my wellness and nurturing my looks and body as it changes rather than punishing it.
With all this in mind, I suggest we take a different approach to ageing and try to embrace the idea that every age a woman passes through has its own beauty. Let’s widen our definition of beauty and remember that kindness, patience and generosity are what we truly value in our friends, our sisters, our mothers and what makes them beautiful. We should shower ourselves with the same kindness.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to look the best we can, but we do not need to aspire to look like the images that we are bombarded with at every turn. We do not need to accept the photo-shopped perfection we see everyday, everywhere. We can choose own role models, women who inspire us to be our best, not someone else’s best – for me, that's incredible women like Shiva Rea, Alicia Keys, Christy Turlington, Michelle Obama - amazing women who fill their life with love, who are passionate about what they do and who glow from the inside out. We can be the healthiest, most vibrant version of ourselves that we can be and in turn to be good role models for our daughters as they grow up and face the same challenges.
Here are my favourite holistic tips to radiate health and happiness whatever your age….
Turn yourself upside down
According to the ancient yogis, headstands are the secret to longevity. When you look at the benefits, inversions are pretty amazing and I try and sneak them in everyday even if I don’t do a full yoga practice. Going upside down is fantastic for flushing out toxins, improving our circulation, calming the nervous system, and boosting the oxygen in your brain. It’s like having a detox, an oxygen facial, and a chill out all in one.
Exercise on and off the mat
Yoga is amazing for lengthening, strengthening, and toning the body – but it’s not the only option out there and recent studies show a combination of cardiovascular exercise and strength training is the best way to slow the ageing process. I exercise around five times a week, switching between running, weights, HIIT and different yoga styles. Exercise is so important to me. It keeps me grounded, happy and in turn feeling more youthful.
Nourish your body
While daily sun protection and a great anti-ageing night cream are essential, if you are serious about ageing gracefully, you need to start from the inside out with food rich in antioxidants. Everyone loves avocados – I probably eat too many, but who really cares when they are packed with vitamin E, essential for glowing skin and shiny hair. These wonder fruits also have a high Folate content which is important for cell regeneration. I also always make sure my kitchen is stocked up with nuts and seeds, berries, green veg and dark chocolate.
Find that inner sanctuary
Having a heaven from the chaos of life is crucial for looking and feeling young - sometimes I just need to be all on my own, and just be me again. I recommend a bi-weekly soak in the bath with Epsom salts and a sprinkling of essential oils. My favourite blend at the moment is Mandarin, Jasmine and Lavender.
Whether it’s taking 20 focused breaths first thing in the morning, making an effort to inhale slowly throughout the day or really using your breath to connect your mind and body as you practice, yogic breathing is amazing for purification as well as being the secret of a calm demeanour.
Drink Green Tea
My Japanese friend, Ai, got me hooked on green tea – luckily, it’s a healthy addiction to have and the perfect anti-ageing brew being packed with antioxidants. If you find yourself taking too many coffee-breaks with colleagues and friends, try switching to green tea which has half the caffeine as a regular cup of coffee but still gives you a slight lift and improved focus.