Mays Al- Ali
Posted on September 04 2019
For nearly 18 years, Mays travelled the world managing teams of people and producing multi million pound high end global TV commercials at a very senior level. In December 2018, she decided she had had enough and I has since been working as a full time yoga teacher. She qualified in June this year as a Nutritional Therapist.
I met Mays at a Health and Wellness festival this summer and straight away we started talking about finding balance in life through the work we do, and how we look after the self. I was inspired by her bold move to leave such a successful career to pursue a life with a lot more satisfaction and how hard she worked to achieve all her qualifications and a launch her wellness brand and help other people. I knew I had to share her story so I got in touch with her for an interview:
Congratulations on your recent graduation!
But you started off in advertising? Why did you make the transition to nutrition?
The job was very stressful, with lots of pressure, tight deadlines and difficult aggressive people to deal and after nearly two decades in it I realised that i wasnt happy and felt it was important to reassess my passions and desires in life. When you are in the middle of it and living in a highly stressful daily environment you don’t realise how that level of stress permeates into every area of your life and as a health advocate, living in a stressful environment is not to be recommended. Coupled with that I really felt the need to be in service more and do something rewarding to help people feel good, and nutrition was something I was always hugely passionate about and works very well alongside my existing yoga teaching and reiki healing skills.
When did you first develop an interest in nutrition?
I have been a yoga teacher for nearly 7 years now so have always had a keen interest in holistic living and helping people feel good through yoga and meditation. My interest in nutrition started at the same time as when I became a yoga teacher, as I became vegan at the same time and realised that changing to a plant based diet requires nutrition knowledge, leading me to sign up to my three year Naturopathic Nutrition diploma. By the end of the three years of Nutrition studies I realised that helping people heal through diet and holistic lifestyle practises was my calling.
Where on your journey to Healthy Mays did you make the decision to become a yoga instructor?
Eight years ago I was working in a highly stressful environment with unstable aggressive individuals, at the same time my boyfriend dumped me and I had a health scare and I was at that time into the hedonistic London party scene which all culminated in me burning out. I realised that I was truly unhappy inside masking my feelings, emotions as well as childhood trauma’s through the partying. I was always into yoga but in a sporadic ad-hoc way, and I remember clearly going to a yoga class and lying in savasana at the end and feeling very emotional. I heard this voice in my head which said to me I needed to go to India and study yoga and do more of it to heal. I believe that was my higher power/guiding angels/voice of reason whatever you want to call it.
What was the biggest challenge on your way to Healthy Mays and how did you manage them?
Obviously the biggest challenge is the financial one and also leaving the security of a very successful and well paid career of nearly 20 years to start something new from scratch is not easy as you have to really take the plunge and face the fear of the unknown. From a financial perspective, I was planning for it somewhat, so I had been saving for a while so it simply required tightening the purse strings, like renting a room in my flat and reducing big shopping splurges!
But I have to say that I’ve never been happier even if I’m a little poorer!
So true that money doesn’t buy you happiness! Our time on this beautiful planet is precious and what we do with it is so important, following our passions and doing something rewarding, that helps other people, brings me so much joy.
Healthy Mays is a symbiotic relationship between nutrition and yoga. Whilst most of us are aware of both, we tend to view and experience them as two separate entities, how do you constantly balance them in your practice?
For me part of yoga philosophy is inherently linked to nutrition. One of the 10 commandments of yoga is “Ahimsa” which means non-harm, not harming yourself or other people or any other living being. This is what led me to follow a plant-based diet when I first became a yoga teacher and then led to my keen interest in nutrition which was directly linked. Through yoga philosophy we are taught to tune into our bodies, to feel our bodies and that includes noticing how our bodies feel when we ingest certain foods, substances or drinks such as alcohol. We notice what does and doesn’t work for us, which leads to living a cleaner more natural way of life including what we eat, drink and use on our bodies such as beauty products and even what we use in our homes such as natural cleaning products. Living holistically goes hand in hand with nutrition and yoga,
What advice do you have for individuals interested in following your path?
For me the two didn’t happen together, firstly when I went to India those 8 years ago I only wanted to deepen my yoga practise I didn’t actually want to be a teacher, however all the longer trainings were yoga teacher trainings so I thought what the hell lets give it a go. I was actually terrified at the idea of teaching to begin with especially as I was stiff as a plank and very inflexible when I first started on my yoga journey.
However the universe had other ideas and pretty much as soon as I finished my training I was offered a yoga teaching job in Goa where I stayed for the season and gained confidence in my yoga teaching. With the nutrition, again I signed up to my three- year diploma thinking I was doing it for my own personal interest, at that point I wasn’t actually thinking of a long term career change into nutrition. However as the course progressed I realised how amazing it was and how much I wanted to share the knowledge I had gained over the last 8 years of self study too with others to help them heal and by the last year of study I knew in my heart this was what I wanted to do.
So my advise is follow your heart, follow your gut, follow your intuition and look for the signs around you of the universe guiding you to where you need to be.
What are you currently working on?
I am hosting my first yoga and nutrition retreat in Ibiza next month from the 14th September. One magical week in a beautiful villa nestled in the quiet north of the island with two yoga classes a day plus daily yoga nidra meditations, delicious nutritiously designed plant-based food, a cacao ceremony and sound healing bath, stand up paddle boarding and everyone gets a nutrition consultation with me plus a shiatsu massage with my colleague Alexandra. Its going to be absolutely incredible and super healing.
That sounds incredibly relaxing!
Yes it is! We still have spaces left, www.healthymays.com/retreats for more info.
And this is your first retreat, congratulations!
Thank you (she smiles broadly)
How did you navigate the challenges of putting together a retreat?
Having never had my own business or managed my own time, this was the difficulty at first, also learning about marketing and digital marketing too both for my Healthy Mays business and to promote my Ibiza retreat. My advise is to always get help when you feel your skills aren’t in that particular area. I started seeing a business coach, her name is Ruth. She has helped me immensely and I would highly recommend her to anyone.
What organisational tools do you swear by?
Sounds very simple but a monthly calendar where you can plan out each day and what goals you want to achieve each day has really helped me! Writing a daily to do list helps too and keeping an up to date calendar of appointments is crucial. All these are simple tools but super useful.
What book, podcast or blog would you recommend?
Chillpreneur by Denise Duffield-Thomas is a great inspiring read. I like it because it focuses more on the spiritual persperctive.
Dot.com Secrets is another good one by Russell Brunson.
Fashion or Style, personal stylist maybe?
I think the two go hand in hand! I think you can follow fashion but if you cant add your own individual style into it then you can often get it wrong and end up with odd mismatched outfits. I have always been very into fashion and have a distinctive personal style. I’ve never used a personal stylist but would be open to it although I’ve always had a very clear idea of what I like and don’t like and a strong sense of personal style. From your collection, I love the dress in sky print – gorgeous! Also the velvet Kelly dress looks divine!
What's the beauty product you can't live without ?
Aveda Be Curly styling cream for my curls. And cold pressed organic coconut oil as a body moisturiser.
Mays, it's been incredible having you. Thank you for your time.
Thank you for having me!
So what do you have planned for us in the next few months?
Well in September im starting a full time 1 year masters at UCL in Clinical and Public Health Nutrition – there is always more to learn! Alongside that I plan to build my nutrition business and increase my client list, host more retreats (we are planning Goa in January
Plus UK weekend retreats and one day nutrition/yoga workshops! And I'm also planning lots of online courses too such as liver detox/gut health. So lots of exciting stuff coming up.
Definitely, I am looking forward to it all and I wish you lots of success in your future projects.
Thank you very much!
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