About Catherine Turner

CATHERINE TURNER is a journalist, editor and stylist specialising in beauty, health and wellbeing with over 20 years experience in glossy magazines including a stint as Editor-In-Chief of Marie Claire Health & Beauty. Her ‘inside out’ approach to beauty has seen her having her chakras balanced, feet read and warm oil being poured on her third eye. In 2012, her love of yoga took over as she quit her job as Beauty & Health Director of Easy Living to take a sabbatical at an ashram in the remote Himalayas. Now back from her travels, she is juggling yoga study and teaching with the role of Acting Beauty and Wellbeing Director for Psychologies magazine and columnist for VH Editorial and getthegloss.com

Posts by Catherine Turner

Making the Connection

woman-and-mirror

At a retreat recently, on the second day of a no caffeine, wheat, dairy regime (not something I’m fanatical about, but I felt like giving it a go), I developed a crashing, nauseating headache which had me resting up for the next two days. Of course, caffeine withdrawal was the obvious culprit (my coffee count had been creeping up, and I’d gone cold turkey). Yet it took me straight back to the times I would suffer this type of ‘migraine’ as a child and into my 20s. The solution had always been to pop an Ibuprofen pill and wait for it to go – which it always would – until next time.

Conscious that I was there to ‘clean out’ my system, and that I hadn’t had one of these headaches for years, this time, I didn’t automatically take pain killers. Instead, I decided to rest and go ahead with an osteopathy treatment which I’d organised for later in the day. It turned out the be just the remedy. I’d always assumed osteopathy was about the mechanics and movement of the body – and true, it is about the musculoskeletal system. But I found out it is also a ‘whole body’ approach; the theory being that kinks and misalignments in our supporting structure (spine and skull) can disrupt energy flowing through the nervous system, as well as our organs and how well they function.

I don’t remember much about the 2 hour treatment, except at one point, I did feel a strange dull, achey sensation in my back. The therapist explained he was moving my right kidney away from my liver (!) – it wasn’t remotely painful but felt like a huge release. And when he started working on my head, the throbbing in my right temple went immediately. This time I felt a whoosh of emotion and tears began to flow. Again, a huge release. Later, talking through with the osteopath, it was never clearer to me how every cell, nerve, organ, muscle, and bone is connected, even down to our thoughts and emotions. Read More…

Doing Too Much?

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At a yoga training course in London recently, the world-famous teacher mentioned in passing that her Ayurvedic Doctor is treating more patients with what’s known in the ancient Indian system of medicine as Vata imbalance. In Ayurveda, it’s believed we have three groups of personality traits which bring with them different sets of health tendencies. Put simply, when we’re in balance, all three work in harmony – when we’re not, we develop a ‘dominant’ dosha which may make us prone to illness.

Vata is the quick thinking, fast moving, chattery and creative side of us when balanced, becoming highly anxious, frazzled and worried when not. This rings bells in our 24/7 society – who these days isn’t frantically busy? And no doubt technology is contributing to this via constant stream of information via 24 hour news channels, Twitter and email on a social and work level, giving us that ‘switched on’ feeling. We get hooked on it. After all, who gets Brownie points for going home early, having holidays or taking a lunch hour.

This wired state is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system – the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism which keeps us on our toes, and ready for action through the release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These are known as the stress hormones for good reason, as they are diverting our bodily functions into a state of alert – many things happen including a raise in heart rate, diversion of blood away from the digestive system. Of course, we need this in times of real danger, say, if we’re in a near miss in the car, or to meet an important deadline. The problem is, we’re more often in a false state of alert which begins to take its toll on our bodies. Read More…

Eat Like a Yogi

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Staying at an ashram in the Himalayas taught me a lot about eating. Not just the food itself, but how and why we eat the way we do, and the impact on our emotions and bodies. In the run up to my trip, I read on the ashram’s website that they follow a ‘Sattvic’ diet. I had no idea what that meant, but the list of no-no’s seemed to be a yogic approach: no meat, fish, alcohol or coffee, very little dairy – until we got to no spices, garlic or onions. That struck me as odd – how ‘bad’ could they be? But it seemed a minor detail as I was in the throes of jabs, malaria pills, what to pack and how to actually get there. I was ready to embrace ashram life (living in basic accommodation, spartan eating, sharing the chores….). Even so, alarm bells did ring a little when a previous student (I was going to do the same yoga Teacher Training programme at the ashram) emailed to say she’d been hungry most of the time she was there. With two big yoga sessions a day, no wonder. She advised me to pack my favourite snacks and I duly lined my case with trail mix, 9 Bars and Green & Black’s.

The word diet in the Western world has come to mean weight loss. Having worked on glossy magazines for years, I cringe, but know only too well the selling power of a ‘lose half a stone in a week’ cover line. It pushes our buttons because, let’s face it, many of us do over eat and need (or more often want) to shed a few pounds. Trouble is, modish quick fixes promise a lot and deliver little and we end up back where we started or worse.

Practising yoga has put me more in touch with my appetite and what my body needs, giving me an ‘eat and enjoy everything in moderation’ approach. The only thing I have cut out of my diet is meat. This was no dramatic statement – it just happened because it felt right. About 12 years ago, I went on a serious detox involving waking up to a tablespoon of olive oil, taking psyllium husk, sipping pressed apple juice in between colonics and no solid food for 4 days. It was worth it – the after effects were enlightening. I’d never felt so ‘clean’ from the inside. I managed to cut out sugar, sticking to pure whole foods for a while, and haven’t wanted to eat meat since. So I wasn’t afraid of the ashram diet (backed up with my own supplies!) and was looking forward to the complete change of eating habits I was sure it would bring. Read More…

Free Your Breath

just breath

Through all the years I’ve been trying to stay healthy by eating well, exercising, taking vitamins, attempting to meditate, it’s only now I really understand that breathing properly is the simplest trick most of us miss in the equation. We can be forgiven of course, as it’s something we all do automatically – approximately 12-18 times a minute of every day. We don’t have to give it a second thought, and quite frankly, who needs ‘learn to breathe’ added to our endless to-do lists. But doing exactly that has made huge changes in the way I feel and look. I can relax more deeply, sleep better, meditate for longer, my digestion functions a whole lot better, I feel taller, lighter (a bonus when running) and I even detect more colour in my skin which others have noticed.

It’s work in progress though – as I sit here in front of my laptop writing this, I know I’m not breathing properly. Modern life – poring over iPads, driving, toting designer handbags, sitting in front of the TV and computer – all conspire to make us lean forwards, hunching our shoulders over and collapsing into our diaphragm, the major muscle which drives our breath. There’s often a sub-conscious emotional element to this too – if we’re hurt, grieving or broken hearted, our instinct is to curl over for comfort – the same goes when we feel threatened. The upshot is, we end up with with constricted breathing, air only going to our chests, using a fraction of our natural lung capacity. We feel anxious and tired rather than full of life. Read More…

Catherine Turner’s India

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Catherine Turner’s India

In the end, the decision had been easy to make. After nearly eight years as Beauty & Health Director on a glossy magazine, I’d handed in my notice and was about to trade my dream job for a dream trip to India. This was no out-of-the-blue decision. I’d discovered yoga 11 years earlier: it had rescued me from a rather bleak time when I had been made redundant.

My stressed and stiff desk bunny body gradually melted and transformed into something resembling fit, healthy and flexible. I admit it, I’d become a yoga bore – it was that life changing – so I decided to walk the talk which is how, out of all the things to do on a trip to India, I ended up on a teacher training course at an ashram on the banks of the river Ganges in the Himalayas. At the risk of lapsing into hippy dippy ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ territory, it was my own little spiritual journey and I’d advise anyone (into yoga or not) to go and soak it all up. It’s a mind blowing experience on many levels – you’ll never forget it.

First Stop Rishikesh

It’s a bit of a journey to get there, and I did it the easy way. I debated for ages as to whether to fly to Delhi and get the full local experience by jumping on the train to Rishikesh. A true hippy would have got the bus. In the end I decided to catch an internal flight from Delhi to Dehradun which is then a 40 minute cab ride in to Rishikesh, and managed to persuade one other girl heading for the ashram to do the same. I’m glad I did, as I was troubled by a few horror stories of scams at Delhi train station.

Still, my fellow yogis made it by train or road without any problems, so it confirms I’m a ‘better to be safe than sorry’ rather than a risk-taking traveller. Either way, arriving in Rishikesh is an all-singing, all-dancing intro to India. Hordes of people, chaos and cows. Sun going down, beaten up old cab, horns blaring, tuk-tuks overtaking, dusty road, monkeys hanging off every tree…..and the smell. So bad, yet so good with bursts of delicate jasmine hanging in the hot evening air. Read More…