Jasmine Hemsley - wellbeing expert, three-time bestselling author and TV presenter. The founder of Hemsley + Hemsley and East by West; a chef, restaurateur and food & health writer, Jasmine believes in conscious joyful living, taking a 360-degree approach to health. Through her messaging, Jasmine inspires her global audience to deepen their commitment to ethical and sustainable choices in food, fashion and beauty. We spent two fun-filled days with Jasmine, exploring Mallorca while shooting our latest collections and learning about Ayurveda, sound healing and how to eat (and live!) with intention. In the first part of our interview with Jasmine, we learn more about her approach to wellbeing and eating and how we can look to incorporate more balance into our lives.
“Joyful living is similar to the attitude of a child, it’s being in the moment... appreciating the here and now”
You’re a bestselling author, chef, wellbeing expert and TV presenter, you have accomplished so much! Is this the path you imagined you’d follow as a child?
I did tell my mum and dad I wanted to be a ‘cooker’ as a child - and they said ‘gas or electric?’ which I didn’t get for years. Other than that I didn’t have any plans as such - I just couldn’t wait to get out into the big wide world!
What does “conscious joyful living” mean to you and how does one achieve it amongst the hum drum of daily life?
Living in the now with a playful awareness of this life that we get to live and an appreciation of what we have - the quote ‘what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life’ by Mary Oliver always speaks to me and inspires me when I feel overwhelmed or bogged down. We are conditioned to project into the future and often dwell and hold onto the past. Joyful living is similar to the attitude of a child, it’s being in the moment... appreciating the
here and now.
Can you explain a bit about Ayurveda and why has it become such an important part of your wellbeing philosophy?
Ayurveda means ‘Life Knowledge’ and is concerned with the delicate balance between mind, body and spirit to feel whole and well - holistic wellbeing. To me, Ayurveda is living in harmony with nature - a way to understand the natural world around us as well as remind us to honour the fact that we are nature. How we interact with our world impacts us, and if we take care of our inner world and nourish ourselves mentally, spiritually and physically, this will manifest outwardly.
We understand that everyone has a unique dosha (constitution), based on the elements. How do you know which dosha is yours?
There are 3 doshas or biological energies - Vata, Pitta and Kapha - and together they create the world around us including ourselves. Each person is born with their own unique doshic makeup, and this is what makes our needs and our characteristics different to others. While we are always all 3 doshas, in differing ratios, 1 or 2 doshas are usually more dominant than others which is what is then often referred to as ‘my dosha’ or ‘my dosha type’. Our unique constitution is then influenced by our environment, the time of day, the seasons, and our bodies as we age which is why understanding these 3 biological energies is so helpful. An Ayurvedic doctor or practitioner, known as a Vaidya, can help you understand your dosha/constitution through a combination of observation, questions about your likes and dislikes and tendencies and also by pulse reading. You can have a go at determining your constitution by taking a simple quiz on my website. It’s also a great way to get a feel for the qualities, or characteristics, of each of the doshas and how they play a part in your own mind-body type, your friends and family and the world around you!
Ayurveda claims that optimal health and vitality can be achieved by balancing the elements and finding equilibrium. How can we invite more equilibrium into our lives?
By adopting simple everyday lifestyle habits and making conscious choices in our day to day which I detail in my book East by West
. For example, a daily routine that aligns with the energies at play (think seasons, climate, the best time of day to do things), drinking room temperature, warm or hot water rather than cold (and ice cold!) which disrupts digestion. Eating with full attention and calmly rather than upset or with distraction and always with an appetite (so many of us eat ‘just because’) which means our digestion is not yet primed for the job and can lead to feeling bloated and sluggish) and allowing at least 3 hours between meals. Cooking your own meals as much as possible and taking an interest in the sourcing and seasonality of it connects us to the food that becomes us. It also encourages us to eat intuitively as we begin to understand- what works for us, how much or little we need in that meal, what our body is craving etc…
You seem to have boundless energy, which foods do you find give you such vitality?
In Ayurveda we understand that there is a life force energy in all things which is called Prana, or Qi in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Fresh food, as opposed to packaged, frozen, takeaway and leftovers, has more Prana, as does food that is local, seasonal and organic. I think that trying to cook as many of the meals that my family and I eat plays a big part in having a harmonious relationship with my food and digestion which gives me (rather than saps) my energy. Nourishing my body with sattvic food - food that is wholesome, fresh and well cooked (raw has its place in Ayurveda and it’s not in everyday meals!) gives me ojas or vital energy.
As we age, our moods can be a little all over the place! Are there foods you’ve discovered to help balance one’s mind AND body?
In Ayurveda, it’s not so much about what you eat, as how and when you eat it. A much more holistic attitude and understanding than focusing solely on what's in your shopping basket and on your plate. For example, having a big and/or late meal at night is only going to set you up for a more disturbed night’s sleep which in turn will affect your mood the following day. Your situation and surroundings can also come into play, for me, a perfect example of this is coffee. My dominant dosha is Vata - my thoughts can run at a million miles per hour, I can be easily distracted and very creative, if I drink (or eat!) caffeine which is highly stimulating these traits can be greatly increased and I’m bouncing off the walls before crashing whereas, on holiday, in a calm and relaxed environment where I can sit in peace and drink a coffee I am not affected in the same way.
“Eating is intimate, connecting - so important for health and wellbeing which is why there are so many rituals and traditions around eating the world over”
What is your favourite go-to meal?
We have a saying in my house - you never regret a dal! It’s so easy to cook all year round, changing up the spices and veggies as per the season, serving it thick or thin, over rice or as a soup and always with a chutney or two. In Ayurveda this easy to digest meal is a complete protein (the dal with the rice), easy to digest for all dosha types, adaptable and when teamed with spices and chutneys it hits all 6 tastes; sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent which help you feel fully satisfied. We also love a coconut curry - it’s so simple and kids seem to love it!
If you could have any six people at your dinner table, who would they be?
I’d love to say some big names and indeed have in the past when asked this question but these days it’s friends and family - the people you feel the most at home with should be around your dining table. Eating is intimate, connecting - so important for health and wellbeing which is why there are so many rituals and traditions around eating the world over.
What does your morning routine look like?
In general, I wake up around 6:30am - before sunrise if possible, which means much, much earlier in summer(!) and once I’m up I clean my tongue with the East by West Tongue Tingler - a few seconds is all it takes and makes such a difference to overall health! I oil pull while I’m in the shower, sip hot water, or a herbal tea, to slowly hydrate. Sun salutations or some Qigong follow to get everything moving, then a 20-minute meditation before breakfast. Since having a baby, yoga has become more of a bedtime stretch right before jumping into bed. Breakfast is usually something hot, freshly made for maximum Prana (life force energy AKA Qi), and easy to digest. This sounds like a lot but I can get this routine done in an hour - it’s ‘me time’ before I turn up for everyone and everything else.
Any top tips for “slowing down” when it feels like life is running at a million miles an hour?
Stop and breathe! Find a couple of mantras that you can use in any situation that you will remember easily. Then when you feel like everything is moving too fast, allow yourself to stop what you’re doing for a couple of minutes, close your eyes (if comfortable), take long deep inhales and long slow exhales and bring one of the mantras to mind to help bring yourself back into the present moment for a better perspective on the situation. The mind and breath follow each other so in taking conscious, slow breathwork you can help to stop that feeling of overwhelm. Some favourite mantras or affirmations are; where my attention goes my energy flows, my health is my wealth, and ‘OM’ - considered the primordial sound of the universe it really helps to deepen the breath - practise often!
Sleep is such a hot topic right now, do you have any miracle cures for the sleep deprived among us?
There are so many external factors in a modern lifestyle that work together to make relaxation - essential for healthy sleep - hard work! Here’s one hack that you can integrate into your daily life. Avoid blue-light after sundown, that’s the TV - no more bedtime Netflix! -, phones and fluorescent lighting. Set sunset mode on laptops and phones and invest in orange/yellow/pink toned mood lighting for your home once the sun sets. Each cell in our body is a natural clock that aligns with the rhythm of nature and daylight dictates the time to our bodies. Our modern world is flooded with artificial light which can confuse our bodies into thinking the day is longer than it actually is. By watching TV or scrolling social media, we’re tricking our bodies into staying alert and awake. For optimum sleep, limit screen time which is stimulating, taking in all that information whether blue light or not, where possible, ideally enforcing a no-screens rule past 8 or 9pm.
Being a working mum with multiple projects on the go, how do you find balance?
It’s prioritising where my energy is best suited. I look at the overall picture and think about what can be pushed back so that I’m not trying to juggle the impossible. Parking non-priorities frees you up physically and mentally and also means you aren’t setting yourself up for failure. Then is there something I can give my undivided attention to for a short time and get it done? I tackle that for a quick win that inspires me before applying myself to any bigger projects in short chunks of time - for example - putting some initial research into a distant project now allows me to then relax into it in good time and leaves room for my ideas to grow.
You often speak of living with intention, what does this mean and how do you believe it can enhance one’s life?
As with the mantra of ‘where attention goes, energy flows’, I think we have to pay attention to our intention behind ‘doing’ something. Are you doing a course/project because you feel like you will be more respected, or to please someone else? Or does it truly inspire you? When you give something - your time, your money, your advice for example, is your intention behind it given with love and respect? Or fear based - for example FOMO! Or to meet someone else’s expectations of you? You could be doing it for all the wrong reasons which may well leave you dissatisfied and resentful, or even backfire.
You always seem so at peace with yourself, what tips you over the edge?
Ha ha I get this alot! and it’s not always the case! But definitely more so when I am able to meditate and maintain balance with my input and output and flow with a routine in my day - that's not to mean I am regimented in my approach - more that I can manage life's ups and downs and wild decisions by using tools like sound, breathwork and meditation (all part of the philosophy of Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga). They give me the means to take a beat and a breath before I react to something, helping me to bring more clarity to the situation. If I feel like the balance is off then I’ll have an early night - 9pm - just listening to soothing music, or one of my digital soundbaths
, having a stretch in bed and allowing myself to drift off knowing I’ve got the whole night ahead, giving me the downtime I need to begin to rewrite an off day and make positive choices ahead of the next day. It’s amazing what an early night can do.
You have developed a range of wellbeing products, can you tell us more about how this came about?
Ayurveda is a 360 philosophy and covers every aspect of our lifestyle from the food we eat and how/when we eat it, to our day-to-day routine. Ayurveda is also full of self-care rituals for beauty. My East by West range features Ayurveda-inspired tools that my friends, family and I have been able to incorporate easily into busy lifestyles which I wanted to highlight and share with others. This includes the Kansa Wand
- is a dome shaped beauty and massage tool that stimulates the marma points (AKA vitality points) on the head, face and body. The Neem Comb
to not only take care of tangles, and distribute the natural oils of the scalp but to target those marma points on the head as you go! Known as the “wonder tree” in India, the Neem tree is highly prized for its medicinal benefits across health, hair and beauty. Neem has been shown to help prevent dandruff, combat frizziness and reduce hair fall. You can use it as a normal comb but also with a warm hair oil for a luxury head and scalp massage. The East by West Tongue Tingler
is a simple long-life copper tongue scraper or cleaner which helps to remove metabolic waste (that sludge on your tongue after a good night's sleep). It is as much a part of my daily routine as brushing my teeth.
You offer regular sound baths to your Instagram followers which are wonderfully relaxing. How did you fall into sound therapy and singing bowls?
The impact of yoga, Ayurveda and meditation has had such a profoundly positive impact on my life that I always want to share that with anyone interested. The first time I experienced crystal alchemy singing bowls I was transported. Colour therapy, crystal therapy and angelic sound all in one - it was such a juxtaposition and offered a form of balance to my fast-paced, technology-heavy city-life. I was drawn to creating sound bath offerings which I do for private groups, events and even festivals and then took it online to reach more people. After a successful series of live online sessions on Instagram I have evolved that offering to digital sound bath downloads. You can easily access them as a meditation anywhere and everywhere, for different purposes such as sleep, rest, focus, relaxation and intention setting ranging from 5 mins to 45 mins.
“How we interact with our world impacts us, and if we take care of our inner world and nourish ourselves mentally, spiritually and physically, this will manifest outwardly”
Visit jasminehemsley.com and follow on Instagram @jasminehemsley for more on Ayurveda, plus wellbeing and food inspiration.