“You become what you believe in”: Wellness warrior Chris James speaks to The MALESTROM
If like us here at The MALESTROM, there are times when you find yourself tired, stressed, irritable, hungry and generally out of sync. Those times when you’ve been burning the candle at both ends, making poor food choices and not managing to squeeze enough exercise in. Well it’s at times like these, when it all just gets a bit too much, that you need a man like Chris James in your life. If anyone understands the value of quality nutrition, exercise, regular sleep and the power of the mind – it is he! Having survived a serious accident that left him with a broken neck, Chris was able to use the vast well of knowledge procured from his time studying yoga and meditation with the Masters in India, to heal his shattered body. From there it has been success after success, here he gives his top lifestyle tips, advice and talks about his game changing wellness brand.
The MALESTROM: Tell us about your wellness and lifestyle brand?
Chris James: Chris James Mind Body is a premium health and wellness brand that offers a 360 degree natural solution to achieving optimum health and wellness year round. My background is in teaching Yoga and meditation. I still teach, but these days I’m fortunate because I can cherry pick my one-on-one clients, and they don’t always have to be VIP’s either! I teach overseas at the Ananda spa in India in Rishikesh and other beautiful places in Europe.
In 2004 I started out with a program that I put together in a shoe box for my private clients who were overworked under exercised and very stressed. This became the “12 Days” Cleanse – it’s the ultimate game changer in 12 Days and has transformed peoples lives for many years. “12Days” kicked off my product range, which now includes a shorter 3 Day Cleanse called “3R”, “Gorgeous Greens” an organic superfood supplement, “Brilliant Biotic” a 16- strain 30 billion cfu probiotic, “Hello Aloe” a 100% pure inner leaf aloe vera gel, which is great for gut health, and synthesising collagen and skin elasticity. We are stocked at leading retailers like Wholefoods, Harrods, EFMedispa, QVC, STYLE.COM.
TM: What was the inspiration behind it?
CJ: Chris James Mind Body has come very naturally out of my own life experiences. Firstly there was India, where I lived and studied with masters during my 20’s. I studied Yoga, Meditation, and Ayurveda. Then I had a very bad accident while on holiday in London, that left me with a broken neck, #C2 #C3 & #C4, and lots of other serious injuries. I sustained the same injuries as the late Christopher Reeve. The only difference was that my spinal column hadn’t completely severed. I remember my head being taped to the bed, and I was told not to move by my orthopaedic Surgeon, otherwise I would spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair.
I recovered using the breathing, visualisation and meditation techniques that I had learned in India to bring the intelligence back into my body (I realised that this shit works). I walked out of the hospital in 6 weeks to the astonishment of the the doctors and staff. I became a Yoga & Meditation teacher to share the gift and help others achieve optimal health and wellness.
TM: How proud are you of the natural element of your product?
CJ: Well, if it’s not natural, it’s not going to work! So, we are immensely proud of the quality of our products. We take incredible care of our supply chains, and we are still small enough as a company to know exactly where every single ingredient is from.
We don’t compromise – All of our products are Free from wheat, yeast, starch, gluten, lactose, soy, added colourings, sweeteners and preservatives. They are suitable for vegetarians, and we use Organic ingredients whenever possible. And I say this because you are at the mercy of the seasons.
TM: How important is having a positive outlook?
CJ: Having a positive outlook is everything! You have to believe that good things are going to happen to you. If good things don’t always happen to you, which is often the case you have to accept that, experience your pain, or whatever you have to do and move forward. Remember,
“you become what you believe in.”
In my case when I was laying on the hospital bed, and I couldn’t move, I absolutely refused to accept that this was going to be my destiny. My destiny was to tell the world that I am a winner. And that all of the years in India, all of the study had to mean something. So, it starts with this inhalation … not the next inhalation … because you are already on your life journey.
TM: What’s your morning routine? How significant is it to starting your day the right way?
CJ: I wake up extremely early. About 4.30am, and I do my practice. I start with meditation and prayer, being two sides of the same coin. I do my asana practice, I always end my practice with a head balance, which is great for heart rate, lymph drainage, and develops my capacity for action. Head balances allow me to see things from a different perspective as they require stability and awareness.
Starting your day the right way is key, because it sets the benchmark for your day. I also enjoy running, and going to the gym. If you understand how precious your ability is to move, then everything else in life is a bonus!
TM: How do you stay motivated?
CJ: Staying motivated is actually not something that I struggle with, although of course many of my clients experience the effects of being un-motivated from time to time. It may sound ironic, but my current struggle is finding the time to do everything that running an expanding company requires – so sometimes you have to make tough choices …
Tell us about your upcoming book Mind-Body Cleanse …
My new book Mind Body Cleanse, which i’ve just released through Penguin, explains how the human ‘machine’ comprising body, mind and spirit can be transformed by my unique detoxifying and highly acclaimed 12-Day Plan. It’s the perfect antidote for stressed and busy lives, and the 12-Day Plan restores energy, acuity and cleanses your whole body, starting with the seat of all health – the gut.
It includes vegan menus, with delicious cleansing recipes and juices, how to use mindfulness to help you focus on your body’s specific needs, how the gut operates in the context of the mind, body and spirit, yoga poses targeted to improve digestion and stimulate your lymphatic system. And a wealth of healing and health-care tips to do at home.. in just 12 days you’ll feel lighter brighter, and glowing with health.
TM: What’s your food philosophy?
CJ: My food philosophy is to, “know the rules so that you know how to break them properly!” So more or less, it’s Pareto’s principle of 80% being good, and 20% enjoying yourself.
That said, you gotta know what the rules are, and for me that’s doing three to four 12 Day cleanses every year, that usually coincides with the changes in season. Spring and Fall are usually the best times. Most people usually do the 12 Days Cleanse over the summer months for beach body readiness, and then again in January after the holiday season excesses.
I used to be a lot more puritanical then I am now. I was a vegan for 15 years, and have experimented with lots of different models, and am now happy with my current position which is best described as flexitarian. I’m also a great believer in therapeutic fasting … and this is incorporated into a lot of the work that I have always done. So, it’s not so much about what you do eat, but what you don’t eat.
TM: If you could only give one wellness tip what would it be?
CJ: Live life, enjoy yourself. Be happy, and don’t get too hung up on what you eat. But most importantly, “Follow your heart!”
TM: Many people in this country suffer greatly from stress, what advice would you offer to them in order to break out of that state?
CJ: The effects of breathing techniques on anxiety have been studied at length, and I use them with my clients to encourage using the breath as a means of increasing awareness and mindfulness. Regular deep breathing slows the action of the heart, reduces blood pressure, alleviates the symptoms of stress and anxiety, and helps to relieve digestive problems. I practice Kapalabhati every morning for 10 minutes which helps to oxygenate body and mind, with those who suffer from stress, (sometimes insomnia) I teach breathing techniques that stimulate the Rest and relaxation Response – Observing the Pause is a key technique for this:
Sit at the end of your office chair, back straight, and make sure that your feet are hip distance apart. With one hand on the chest and the other on the belly. Allow the natural breath to settle for a moment. Come to observe the natural breath. Count the number seconds on the inhalation and the number of seconds on the exhalation.
After a moment or so, you will note that there is a brief and momentary pause in between the breaths. Firstly at the end of the inhalation, and at the end of the exhalation. Continue to breathe in this way without forcing the breath in anyway.
Allow the chest to open deeply with the inhalation, and follow the exhalation all the through to its natural conclusion. At the end of the exhalation wait for the inhalation to come towards you, without you going towards the inhalation. In this way the natural four part breath cycle occurs spontaneously and naturally and the Rest & Relaxation response is triggered after 3 – 5 minutes.
Keep in mind, that those who operate in a stressed state all the time might be a little shocked how hard it is to control the breath in stressful situations. So, I would recommend preparing oneself for such situations in advance with the above simple daily Breathing Practice.
TM: What wisdom have you picked up during your time in the industry? Or is there a particular mantra you live by?
I did not come into this industry through a traditional route … so I may not be the best person to ask! But, my mantra is,
“Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great. Weak men wait for opportunities; strong men make them.”
TM: What’s next for you and your brand?
CJ: I am already working on my next book, and my company is increasing it’s reach in the UK and overseas.. so we are actively recruiting for some key positions. We have some new products launching the end of this year, and I have some TV appearances coming up soon too, so it is all very exciting! Stay tuned.