Recently named one of the world’s top 10 holistic icons, Julie Montagu also known as The Flexi Foodie is one of London’s top yoga teachers and nutrition experts. We caught up with Julie to find out more about her wellness journey and her top tips for living your life to the fullest.
What is your earliest ‘wellness’ memory?
Nineteen years ago after my first child was born I went to my first yoga class and hated it! I was anxious, unsettled and not really paying attention. But I realized later that it just wasn’t right for me at the time. I wanted something dynamic – something that would make me sweat. And that’s when I found Vinyasa yoga that I fell in love with it. Vinyasa flow, for me, has it all!
What was your dream job when you were younger? Did you ever think you would start your own business?
I never ever thought I would have my own business. Growing up in America it’s engrained in you that you have to get a job straight out of school with a great company. That did happen although it wasn’t what I had dreamed about… I wanted to be an anchorwoman on the news! That was my dream job.
Why did you start ‘The Flexi Foodie’?
I have been teaching yoga since 2009 and as bizarre as it sounds I remember a time when people didn’t know what the so-called ‘super foods’ were. I was teaching at a couple of studios in South West London and in one class I was demonstrating chair pose and half the room weren’t squeezing their knees together properly so I asked them to imagine they had a chia seed in between their legs. The room looked at me as if I was crazy and after class people asked me to explain what this bizarre seed was. This became a weekly endeavor so I started to bring recipes and different foods to class to incorporate them into the yoga classes that I was teaching and this is where the ‘Flexi Foodie’ was born.
How do you ensure you always stay true to your core?
I think I had been around so many people who are not true to their core and that rubs off on you. You sort of morph into being like them – your ‘friends’ because a lot of the time you want their approval. Finally, you start to dislike yourself and who you’ve become. For me, once you realize that you don’t have to be like your friends or like how someone wants you to be. You realize that you have to be YOU.
We are all so different and we should be embracing our individuality, or uniqueness not trying to hide it. I used to be very insecure about who I am and that insecure person wanted to conform to the latest fads, go to the best restaurants to be seen and I become exhausted and unhappy with myself.
I am who I am and that’s the message that I give out. There is only one of you out there and you were made this way for a reason. My kids often say ‘I wish I was more like this person’ or ‘I wish I looked like that’ and I always say to them ‘life would be boring if you were all the same so be different and embrace your individuality!’
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love that it gives me the flexibility to be a mom, which can be really difficult in our modern society. At the end of the day, my first priority is always being a mom, so having the freedom to do what I love and keep my priorities straight, is pretty special and something that I definitely don’t take for granted.
How do you stay motivated to keep going?
I know this may sound hard to believe but honestly it’s never been an issue with me.… Growing up in America you are hit over the head with the saying, ‘you can be who you want and do what you want to do.’ I think that has been engrained in me and it’s what keeps me going. I can do and be whatever and whomever I want to be. You just have to keep moving forwards and learn from mistakes. Mistakes are there to allow you to grow and move onto your next journey.
How do you avoid quitting when things get tough?
You have to have that mind set that everything is teaching me a lesson so that when you reach your destination you can say that you learned a lot of things along the way that made you a better version of yourself.
What are the secrets to running a successful business?
You have to be passionate about what you are doing. You can’t look at someone and think ‘she has done so well. If she can do it I can’ if you’re not passionate about it. It has to be your own thing and you have to believe in yourself. I often get yoga teachers telling me that they copied my sequence but they still aren’t getting that many people attending their yoga classes. As I tell them… It’s got nothing to do with the sequence, instead it’s the passion that is behind it that makes it so successful. Be your own person, be your own voice and be 100% authentic.
When you find your passion and you can do anything!
What would you say to young women who want to start their own business?
– The thought of having to find investment often scares people but you don’t need to have a whole bunch of investment. You can make it work organically and authentically yourself without spending a dime!
– If you are going to go into business with a friend be very, very, very careful! I have heard story after story of people who were the best of friends and now don’t speak. It’s definitely something to think about.
– You also have to understand that you are not going to be successful overnight. Put in the hard work and it will come in time. I promise you that!
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
My life advice is ‘don’t give up, won’t give up!’ When I started my blog I was taking really bad pictures and my husband was mocking me so I said ‘I am so passionate about what I am cooking I am going to get a cookbook deal!’ He shrugged his shoulders but I never gave up because I was so passionate and I loved what I did and what I do and guess what – I got the cookbook deal because I believed in what I was doing and loved what I was doing too.
Everyone practices yoga for different reasons. When did you start
yoga and why?
As I mentioned I tried yoga after I had my first child and I dabbled at it throughout the next eight years mainly because I had heard it was ‘good for you’. After my fourth child was born I was absolutely shattered, exhausted and knackered and that’s when a friend told me that I needed to go to a class that is going to give me energy and that’s when I discovered Vinyasa Flow Yoga and it changed everything. I felt full of energy and doing yoga makes me a better person, better wife and a better mum.
Favourite yoga pose and why?
Dancers pose. It’s beautiful, elegant and requires balance. I just feel great when I’m in this pose. Heart open, mind calm and in my zone.
Mindfulness or Meditaiton?
Both are great but breathing is key! Even if you take just five minutes out of your day to sit, breathe and connect with yourself it makes the world of difference.
What do you do in your downtime?
I’m an active person but when I get some downtime I like to read inspirational books! My current favorite is; ‘The things you can see only when you slow down – How to be calm in a busy world!’ by Haenim Sunim.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Home! Going back to see my family. I sort of morph back into being young again! HA!
City life or country living?
I’m definitely a city girl! Of course I visit Mapperton, which is great as it slows me down and keeps me grounded but I feed off the energy of the city.
What are three things you cant live without?
My bike, my Nikes and my backpack and I am a happy girl!
What is your quote of the day every day?
She needed a hero so that’s what she became.
What is your single piece of advice to the next generation of women?
It’s great about what is happening with women right now! We are having another revival and it feels amazing to be a part of it. Originally we had some simple ‘rights’ but now look at the world leaders and the progress we are making! My biggest advice is never go back to being that submissive way. Stay in power and keep the empowerment going!
Who is your Wow Woman?
Debbie Ford! She is one of the most inspirational speakers out there. She focuses on finding the light in the darkness and over coming your shadows so that your authentic self comes out rather than being hidden in the shadows. Definitely look her up!
If you could only live in one item of Asquith clothing what would it be?
The jumpsuit! I wore it on my most recent trip to Mexico. It’s perfect for dressing down when exploring or dressing up in the evening
Shop Julie’s book ‘Eat Real Food’ here!