I am thrilled to kick off this month sharing an interview with the gracious and talented Claire Ragozzino. I had the pleasure of dining with Clarie last fall in Venice after following her online for the previous year. Isn’t it the best when you meet someone in person and they are even more amazing and lovely then you imagined? That was exactly my experience with Claire.
Hailing from the Midwest, Claire is a yoga teacher, nutrition educator, brilliant recipe developer, and all around wise woman. Over on her blog and gorgeous Instagram account, you can find her sharing extensive Ayurvedic knowledge, holistic remedies, and beautiful seasonal eats. In our interview, Claire gives us the low down on her grounded approach to nourishment, how she moves with the seasons, and the power of trusting our intuition. Claire is one of the kindest souls I have ever met and I am so honored to to have her in the Inspired Living series!
Do you have a morning or evening ritual? If so, tell us about it.
Mornings used to be tough for me since I typically found my most productive, creative times in late hours of the night. But since living in India, where daily 4am yoga practices became my norm, I’ve grown to revere mornings as my sacred time. Though there aren’t too many 4am mornings now, I do love to rise with the sun and spend the first half hour waking up slowly and writing in bed. It’s a nice way to reflect on dreams from the night before and set intentions for the day ahead. After that, I’ve uncovered a great comfort in my morning dinacharya – self-care rituals – beginning with oil pulling, tongue scraping, teeth brushing with this amazing ayurvedic toothpaste I picked up at Moon Juice, dry skin brushing, a hot shower and a lather down in sesame oil to keep my vata skin nourished for the day. From there, it’s a big glass of warm water and a warming elixir of chvyanaprash and herbal ghee in hot water. Since my schedule varies so much each day, having these little morning rituals helps me stay grounded when the rest can feel like chaos.
What does your body need to feel nourished?
I’ve found forcing myself to be militant about sticking to one dietary theory tends to create imbalance in body and mind, now I try to stay fluid and listen to what I need and ride those cyclical, seasonal biorhythms. Some days it could be lighter meals and fresh juice, other days it’s grounding, soupy cooked meals. In general, it’s a balance of nurturing cooked food meets prana-filled raw foods alongside movement, nature, friends + laughter!
Share a favorite seasonal meal (feel free to include a recipe if you have one).
In deep winter, I’m a lover of any kind of macro bowl I can get my hands on. I always keep a pot of brown rice, some roasted roots, sea veggies and a favorite sauce on hand in my fridge, this way I can throw together a totally nourishing cooked-meets-raw dish in minutes and feel totally satiated but light. This yogi bowl is a favorite go-to of mine!
Is connecting to nature important to you?
It’s everything. And the more I explore Ayurveda the more I understand how vital the connection is for our health – from eating seasonally to being in cycle with the energy of the moon phases. It’s something I’ve spent the last few years starting to deeply feel and practice and look forward to exploring more this year. I started off 2015 climbing and camping in Puerto Rico, and it was incredible to drift off with my skin to the sand under a sky of stars.
Best advice you’ve ever taken.
Don’t ever second-guess the subtle inner voice that guides you, you know that gut feeling that tells you to move forward or change course. That intuitive place of being is where you want to live, let yourself be immersed in that flow.
How do you stay motivated and inspired?
Travel. Particularly solo travel. There’s something about heading out on your own that opens up a whole other world of possibilities and blissful happenstance. I find myself in conversations with the most incredible strangers or stumbling upon an incredible market when I open myself up to spontaneity on the road. I always come back feeling refreshed and inspired after a trip!
Name one or two of your heroes and let us know why they mean so much to you.
I grew up with a WWII Rosie the Riveter poster in my house, forever plastering the mantra of “We Can Do It!” in my mind. My mom was a pilot by 14, a helicopter mechanic by 20, a restaurateur by 40, a documentary film producer by 50, and an Ayurvedic yoga therapist by 55…she never ceases to amaze and inspire me with her determination and passion. I consider her to be my greatest hero and guiding light.
What are you currently reading?
Aside from stack of cookbooks by my bedside (does anyone else read cookbooks like bedtime stories?), I’ve been on a steady diet of all things Maya Tiwari for the past 6 months. It started with her book Women’s Power to Heal and Living Ahimsa Diet, now I’m onto her Path of Practice guide. Her deep Ayurvedic wisdom is such a gift to all women.
I was surrounded by some serious sister wisdom at Spirit Weavers Gathering last year. It was near midnight when I found myself inside a yurt in an impromptu tea ceremony with a handful of amazing women. In conversation, one woman said to another, “I admire you so much, not because you live an outwardly beautiful life but because you are able to dive into the depths of the darkness at times and emerge with a light that shines brighter and stronger than anything else.” Don’t be afraid to dive deep into yourself and do the healing work to find truly meaningful beauty and joy in your life.
What does wellness mean to you?
Wellness is a fluid seasonal dance of finding balance in body, mind and spirit in alignment with the elements to promote inner peace and vitality. For me, this means aligning my food and lifestyle with the changing seasons, and spending time at each seasonal transition to pause and reflect through cleansing and intention setting. Taking space to be present with the cyclical changes of nature helps promote harmony and wellness in my life.
Tell us one thing you haven’t done yet that you really want to do.
Open a holistic bed and breakfast in Tulum where artists, musicians, yogis, and other wayfarers could rest their souls and share their tales over food grown/caught/cooked on the land.
What are you most grateful for?
The opportunity to be a conscious co-creator of the world we live in! I’m grateful to wake up each day, live my truth and share what I love with others in an authentic and meaningful way.
*Photos by Choate House & Claire Ragozzino