Meet passionate Mama, holistic health nutritionalist and entrepreneur Claudia Spahr...
RYB: When did you first fall in love with yoga?
CS: I think my love affair with yoga started very young. I remember asking for a
yoga book for Christmas when I was about 11. Back in those days, yoga wasn't
trendy but I felt drawn to it and used to 'study' my book for hours. They
say if you're really into yoga, you did it in a previous life, so who knows?
I began to practice seriously when I took a sabbatical to write a play in
New York immediately after 9-11. New York is a great place for yoga and I
regularly went back for months at a time. I checked out all the different
styles and studios, including Bikram and Jivamukti, which were all the rage
at the time. Then while living in London I practiced regularly with a great
Australian Iyengar teacher. Another boost was living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
where I got deeply into Ashtanga. Yoga just feels different in Asia and the
climate in South East Asia is perfect for deep stretches. I moved to Ibiza
in the summer of 2005 and spent a few months volunteering at a yoga retreat
and enjoying all the great teachers who passed through. Then on a big trip
to India in 2006, I soaked up yoga with every pore, learning from wacky, old
Indian gurus and internationally famous teachers. I've been hooked on yoga
for a good thirteen years now and expect to be doing inversions for the rest
of my life.
RYB: Which type of yoga do you prefer to practice and why?
CS: I like most types of yoga because I think each style has its benefits. When
I self-practice I generally do a type of Ashtanga-inspired flow focusing on
the alignment of Iyengar when I hold poses. I also do some Bikram postures
and depending on my mood/time of month I include some more restorative, yin
yoga. Seeing as I've been pregnant for most of the last five years (no
kidding) I've been doing a lot of slow, pregnancy yoga. In an ideal world
I aim to practice a few times a week, preferably when the kids are
out/asleep or busy; as anyone with children knows, they like to crawl all
over and under you when you're doing yoga. I wish I could practice more but
the 'free hours' are limited.
RYB: As the co-founder of Lotus Yoga in Goa & Ibiza - what is the best
perk to running a yoga retreat?
CS: You get to learn from, practice and hang out with some of the world's best
yoga teachers. Each teacher has shown me something. I think you learn something from every
class you attend, just like you can never regret taking the time to do yoga.
I've also met some wonderful people and made some great friends because the
people who go on yoga holidays and retreats are generally pretty cool too. I
appreciate the family atmosphere at yoga retreats and the depth of
communication you can find.
RYB: One of your funniest yoga experiences?
CS: When I first visited Goa I went to some classes with this cockney who was
famous in the UK from breakfast TV. He wore tight lycra shorts and was
terribly vain. He was the kind of teacher who reckoned all the girls should
RYB: One of your top yoga experiences?
CS: Gosh there are so many. Self practice at sunset is always nice. I remember
going straight to a morning class in Ibiza after dancing all night at one of
the island's clubs - I was on a natural high.
RYB: Were you always so health conscious?
CS: I've always enjoyed eating good food. Eating nutritious, real food just
makes you feel much better. There is a lot of new information on how food
affects our health so getting trained in nutrition was just an extension of
my passion for food.
RYB: What is one of the biggest 'health myths' you would like to set
CS: Calorie counting is not the best way to lose weight. It's all about eating
the right food for your type and generally cutting down on the white poisons
(white sugar, white flour and processed junk food).
RYB: What are your 3 favorite energy-boosting foods?
- Freshly juiced green juice
- A plate of organic steamed veg with a wholegrain like quinoa
- A big Wakame and avocado salad
RYB: Do your little ones eat healthy?
CS: They eat what I cook most of the time, so yes. The oldest loves things like
sea vegetables (nori and other algae) and raw vegetables - things most kids
shy away from. However, they do live in the real world with sweets and
birthday parties and strangers who feed them lollies. You can't control what
your kids eat but you can try to give a good example and explain why it's
important to eat well.
RYB: The best benefit(s) to eating a healthier diet
CS: Our standard western diet is the main culprit of chronic inflammation which leads to heart disease, diabetes, neuro-degenerative diseases like Alzheimers and also cancer. A healthy diet leads to a longer, happier life.
RYB: As a woman who gave birth later in life, and went on to publish a
book about yours and others experiences 'Right Time Baby' - what are 3
advantages to having a baby later in life?
- You're more settled in your life, relationship and career
- You're more patient and experienced
- You've lived a little before breeding
RYB: How did your (health conscious) lifestyle have an impact on your
CS: We know that diet, lifestyle and mindset affect fertility. Fertility is
complex and there are many stones to overturn if there are issues. I take a
holistic approach with my clients looking at all areas of their lives where
they can make changes to boost fertility. I believe in a woman's abundant
fertility and hate all the limitations posed on us like age. I also practice
what I preach. I had three naturally conceived children since turning 40 and at
nearly 46 believe I am still very fertile.
RYB: One piece of advice you would like to share with all women?
CS: Live courageously and trust that everything you experience is tailor-made for you to learn what it is you are meant to learn in this life.
RYB: How do you see societies view on women's health changing in the future?
CS: We need to redefine healthcare systems to focus on caring for health and preventing disease, not managing disease in what can only be described as a dysfunctional sick-care system.
RYB: Recently, you have combined your passion of motherhood, yoga and
health to lead 'HolyMama' retreats in Ibiza - can you
share with readers the concept of the retreats?
CS: I wanted to give mothers an opportunity to go on a yoga retreat and take
along their child. It's not easy to keep up your practice when you become a
mother, let alone go on a retreat. I basically created what I would have
loved to have done myself. Mums can expect to be nourished and nurtured.
They have their children looked after every morning so that they can do
yoga, have breakfast in peace, shower, read, have treatments and just relax
by the pool. Afternoons are free to go to the beach or visit places on the
island and spend quality time with your child. The food is locally sourced,
organic, vegetarian and amazing, thanks to our wonderful natural foods chef
- the one and only Maili! There are also some optional talks on things like
'getting your children to eat healthy food' and 'boosting fertility as long
as possible'. We also organise massages, treatments and a sacred, women's
RYB: Why did you pick Ibiza to hold your retreats?
CS: Ibiza is an incredible place. Apart from being a beautiful island, it has
the right energy for yoga, healing, transformation and retreats. It also
attracts healers, yoga teachers and holistic practitioners, so this makes it
possible to put together a wonderful programme. The island also has high
standards of accommodation and style. Then purely selfish reasons: I love
Ibiza and this gives me a good excuse to come back a couple of times a year.