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Name: Sarah Kekus aka.. the Health Architect. Sarah was the Yoga Teacher on a retreat I went to in Turkey. Here is an interview about what she does… and her lifestyle..

From: Edinburgh – Scottish-ness eludes me though!

Current location: Lake District

Current happiness levels out of 10: Life has taught me to view each new day as a blessing, so 10

Favourite film: Maybe Motorcycle Diaries – brings back memories of living and working in Chile

Favourite musician: There’s everything from classical harp to Kanye West in my music collection so choosing one musician is quite impossible. However my most recently purchased album is Grown Unknown by Lia Ices – it’s fitting my mood this week!

Favourite artist: Picasso; Guernica is mesmerizing – a powerful depiction of suffering and chaos. The combination of being a talented draughtsman with an awesome imagination and determination to bring social and political polemic into art is what makes Picasso stand out for me.

Favourite book: Cowboys are my Weakness by Pam Houston

Favourite colour: All really strong bright colours are terrifyingly fabulous but when it comes to my wardrobe I often end up wearing black. Possibly because I’m a woman of black origin, I always like a bit of gold too!

Brief synopsis of business: The Health Architect provides yoga classes, nutritional advice and challenging, yet supportive, coaching to individuals who want to improve their wellbeing.

Few questions:  

Your lifestyle is very health based, how did you find yourself on this career path? My health literally unravelled about 15 years ago after an intense period of mountaineering to climb peaks in Nepal, Bolivia, the French Alps and back to Nepal – phew! In the aftermath, and having suffered with both dysentery and pneumonia, I went to see a naturopath, who was instrumental in helping me regain health. After this experience I always dreamed of changing career and the chance finally came in 2010 when my contract as a Project Manager ended.

Has healthy living always been a way of life or was there a catalyst that sent you down this avenue? I really hated having to eat so much meat as a child and so I became a vegetarian at the age of 12. This was the catalyst for a lifelong exploration of the impact of dietary choices and exercise on health. I experimented with vegan and raw vegan diets for a few years but now, whilst I still choose a largely plant-based diet, I have re-introduced some animal protein (mainly fish), and I find this suits me the best. Balancing health requirements with ethical and environmental arguments against meat eating has forged a dichotomy in my thinking – but I can live with this now and I feel calmer and less neurotic than I once did.

What kind of people generally reach out for nutritional help? Sadly, often people only turn to nutritional therapy after conventional medicine fails to help them or when they’ve been offered medication they don’t want to take. The most common problems that people seek my help with are weight gain, chronic fatigue, hormone imbalances (especially relating to fertility, menopause, stress and thyroid dysfunction) and gastro-intestinal problems.

Do you see a similarity in the challenges of making lifestyle and dietary changes? What are they? Making any changes to your life can be very hard but both diet and lifestyle can be unwittingly governed by a range of emotional factors and these need to be recognised and addressed before lasting positive changes can be achieved. Coaching people through change is the biggest part of what I do.

You have a very active lifestyle, how do you like to relax? In the autumn and spring I love fell-walking with my husband; it restores my energy and lifts my mood, especially if the week has felt tough. If the temperature picks up then a day out climbing takes my mind off everything so I can just enjoy the moment! Whether I’ve been out walking or climbing, stopping by a favourite coffee bar on the way home is always a welcome treat. Ps. I don’t drink much coffee – honest!

If you would like to hire/get advice about your diet please contact Sarah HERE

Thanks for the health inspiration.. Becki BXx

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“I would never die for my beliefs because I might be wrong.” Bertrand Russell 

When I booked myself in for a week at a Yoga Retreat in Turkey – I didn’t think too much about it. I wanted some hot weather and it sounded like a healthy way to spend a week. I assumed several things might come with a trip of this type…‘away from temptation…out of trouble… lose a bit of weight…meet like minded people’. I had practiced yoga for over a year a while back and for some reason stopped – so this seemed a great way to get back into it. So. Yoga Retreat… no brainer really?

I arrived exhausted yet, excited to Suleyman’s Gardens, Turkey, a beautiful family run farm on the coastline where I was assigned a simple wood cabin with a comfortable bed. All one needs really.

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Scouring the weekly timetable I saw yoga was to begin at 7.30am for an hour and a half. We would then reconvene at 6pm that evening for more yoga. There were huge spaces in the day to do with what we wanted. A feeling of fear washed over me as I realised the long blank hours and the fact that we were in the middle of nowhere. ‘Oh god.. what if it’s really boring..’ was my feeling of dread.

“Boredom is therefore a vital problem for the moralist, since at least half the sins of mankind are caused by the fear of it.” Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness

I took myself off to the beach and flicked to the chapter “Boredom and Excitement” of the book I’d taken ‘The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell’

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“Ok”. I thought… feeling less afraid.

As I sat in the yoga den clad in my Primani leggings at 7.30am the following morning the realisation that mayyybe I should have thought about my attire a little more washed over me. As the other women commented on each others fashionable yogi outfits I made a joke about my cheap leggings to a quiet audience. But I had to remember – I wasn’t there for that. I was there for a holiday from my mind. From societal pressures and to do some yoga. But where there are other people it can always be hard to remain centred and to keep with one’s game plan. There will always be comparison, self reflection, opinions, advice, or perhaps some drama of some sorts. To remain unfaltering in a world of conflicting ideas and opinions is perhaps the hardest thing to do.

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Boat trip..a bored fisherman looking for stimulation from.. Facebook? 

And I guess that’s what I learnt on this trip. That my fear of boredom was just that. Fear. The days indeed, magically filled up themselves up.. either with spontaneous walks or exploring on the seashore. I faced my fear of spiders. As I woke up and spotted a very big beast on the wall.  Mosquito netting between us. In my groggy state…. I realised – that maybe… just maybe there wasn’t really anything to be afraid of. So. I went back to sleep.

There is something extremely satisfying about stretching and working out as the sun rises over an amazing horizon, feeding on home grown food.. and swimming in the Mediterranean sea and listening to the wise life stories of others. I could definitely get used to it. But.. could I ever become a real.. yogi? Hmmm. We’ll see.

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I travelled to Turkey with Love Yoga Bum – led by Maudie Johnson… down to earth and approachable, her non rigid approach and desire to have fun shone through.

The #yoga classes were led by Sarah Kekus of website The Health Architect. Sarah delivered an eclectic mix of Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow and core strengthening work and easily led two hour morning sessions and deceivingly made them appear only an hour long (helped along with her awesome collection of empowering music). I found Sarah to be a strong minded yet sensitive teacher who easily adjusted her teaching to the needs of different skillsets.

A good week with some interesting women, excellent food, beautiful landscapes and some lessons learnt. And the life advice offered up by the retreats’ Conceptual Designer Ian Worrall was second to none.. Suleyman’s Gardens – a very beautiful place to escape to..

Looking forward to my next adventure.

Becki Bx

@ohdearyme

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