In conversation with The Body Natural

Two of the main things that people want in life are to be happy and healthy. Unfortunately, there are many factors that block us from achieving these goals.

The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, sometimes referred to as the “Father of Medicine”, is one of the earliest recorded physicians to have deduced that diseases, both of the body and mind, are a product of environmental factors, diet and lifestyle. This still holds true to this day: burdening relationships, over-stressful jobs, polluted environment and processed foods are just a few of those hindrances many people face. While some people believe these factors to be out of their control, others know that they have the power to change their fate and actively break away from this negativity in order to seek other avenues that give their lives more value, fulfilment and happiness.

“You would pull out of a yoga pose if you felt uncomfortable, so why don’t we do that in other forms of life like negative relationships or bad jobs?”

– Rachel Cruickshank, The Body Natural

The rise in the production and purchase of self-help books mirrors the sentiments of society; millions of people are crying out for help. As well as this new genre of books, there has also been a boom of online influencers and coaches giving out advice on what exercise to do, what to eat and how to plan your days and ultimately your life. This is all well and good, but how many readers actually stop to question the source of the information they are ingesting?

Even though “fake news” has been acknowledged in recent years, masses of people still believe most things they read on the internet — in this case specifically dietary and fitness advice — as long as it looks legitimate enough. This can be detrimental to people’s health and mental well-being if they are following unreliable sources, thus having no success in reaping any positive results.

It is vital to listen to the right people who have real expertise and a genuine desire to help other people improve their lives, and Rachel Cruickshank a.k.a The Body Natural is a great example of this. Having completed 200H RYT in ashtanga, vinyasa and rocket yoga with The Yoga People in Goa and recently qualifying as a Naturopath Consultant, certified by the College of Naturopathic Medicine, Rachel has now founded her own business teaching yoga and offering private naturopath consultations.

I sat down with Rachel to understand more about her business, her personal journey and insights to living a better life.


To begin with, when did you first become interested in these practices?

My interest in yoga, mindfulness and nutrition grew gradually over the last ten years or so. I started doing yoga in my late teens and began talking to my aunt about my own health more, as she is a naturopath. I am very lucky in the family that I have — we have always had home-grown and home-cooked food, so I have always been familiar with eating natural, healthy foods. I got more and more into it and then this nutrition course caught my interest, so I enrolled onto it, not thinking for a minute that this would become a career!

You never know where life will lead you! Did your improved knowledge of nutrition and yoga change your quality of life?

Oh yes absolutely, over time! You have to understand it’s a really slow process — it’s not going to happen overnight. It’s not a pill you can just pop for some quick fix. It requires you to make changes in your life and start becoming more aware of yourself. But the more I learned, the more I realised you really can change your body by your eating habits, and that yoga and nutrition feed into each other. I feel renewed and reinvigorated by having made this change.

That sounds great. Tell me a bit more about your yoga training?

I trained as a yoga teacher in October 2017 in Goa, and it was amazing! 200 hours in four weeks — really intense but really transformative. Every day we would practice from 7am until 7pm. It’s continuous, and it’s tiring. Your body is exhausted and very stretched out!

Wow that is intense! Why did you choose to do the training there specifically?

Loads of teachers I had practiced under in areas in and around London had said really good things about this particular course. And I didn’t want to do my training in London, mostly because it’s very intense mentally, physically and emotionally, so it was good to be somewhere more remote and removed from my home life. And of course it was more authentic to actually study in India.

What forms of yoga did you study?

My training was in ashtanga and rocket. Ashtanga is one of the oldest forms of yoga where you follow a set sequence. By following this practice it’s given me a really good foundation, but the full sequence is quite long – the whole things takes around two hours! Rocket on the other hand is quicker, shorter and more adapted for Western bodies. It’s based on the principles of ashtanga but there are different forms of it. Then there are loads more types of yoga like vinyasa, which means moving with your breath.


Do you enjoy teaching yoga?

I love it. It’s so good to be able to help people, especially when you know you can change their health and life. I try to instil a sense of empowerment in my classes — I want people to be able to take what I teach in the class and be able to do it by themselves at home. Two students recently came to my class after both being in separate serious car accidents within the last year. Of course they are doing other things like physiotherapy too, but they told me how much of a difference yoga had made to them. When one of them came up to thank me after class, he told me he would probably be in a wheelchair if it wasn’t for the yoga he had done.

That’s incredible! You mentioned earlier that yoga and nutrition go hand in hand?

Yes, the principles taught in yoga are equally applicable to nutrition and your health. It’s all about tuning in to what your body is telling you, whether that’s to do with your lifestyle, your emotions, your diet or the way you move your body. It’s about listening, and then acting.

“Don’t be content with being just OK. We should all be striving to live better.”

– Rachel Cruickshank, The Body Natural

OK so what exactly is naturopathy about?

Naturopathy is about your relationship with your body as opposed to just looking at the science. Medicine generally will just address the symptom whereas naturopathic nutrition is about getting to the root cause of the symptom, as well as prevention. We go all the way back to do a historic evaluation looking at everything, like if you took anti-biotics as a child, had asthma or any injuries. There are lots of little clues and information from both your childhood as well as your family history, and it’s like putting together a puzzle. We talk through every system of the body,  so even if you’re just coming in to talk about a headache, we’ll still look at your muscular skeletal, reproductive system, and nervous system.

But surely those factors aren’t related?

It might seem irrelevant, but there could still be signs from other things happening in the body. People often have symptoms that they haven’t even linked to the main problem. And instead of stopping for a second and asking ourselves why we might be feeling a certain way, we either ignore it or go straight to cover it up. We get used to what’s normal as opposed to what’s healthy.

Some people think that being healthy is expensive.

It’s not, it’s cheaper. We get caught up in these crazy new-fad expensive stuff. You don’t need to go to the depths of Bolivia to find some matcha powder, you could just start by eating a banana and having a bit less coffee in the day. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll have a latte once in a while, but you don’t need to go all out and have beetroot charcoal lattes to be healthy. It’s so much more simple that that. Just stop buying junk, processed, refined, and chemical-ridden food and eat stuff you could grow in your garden. Yes, it is better to eat organic but if you can’t, normal vegetables are still fine!

Very true! Why do you think so many people struggle with their health and self-confidence?

There is already so much pressure and stress on our bodies from our daily lives. We use exercise and diet to punish our bodies, and we fall into these negative conversations with ourselves, feeling guilty or ashamed when we don’t succeed.

So how can we break out of that negative pattern?

Create a positive relationship with your body. It’s about working with your body, instead of having a battle and putting ourselves down. Balance is incredibly important.  We need to focus on sustainable, affordable, flexible lifestyles where we can enjoy what we want without going overboard or being miserable. One other thing to think about – the body hears what the mind says. If your mind is telling you something, your body will start to reflect it in some way.


Get in contact with The Body Natural here to find out more about her business, attend one of her yoga classes or book a consultation.

© All photo rights for this article belong to The Body Natural.

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