I love reading books and spending my time in the company of words. I feel as if I have the opportunity to touch the soul of the author, which is painting different worlds- worlds, where everything is possible and every utopia could find a way to reality.
What I love the most, tough, aren’t books, but people. People like Margarita Maneva. People who give life to everything they do; people who turn the biggest skeptic into a follower and a fan; people who plant the seed of hope and opportunity, even where the soil is not fruitful.
Margi is the kind of person who burns in what she does, and on the way she lightens up the day and life of others. No matter what I tell you about her, I couldn’t find the words, which could package her essence and introduce it to you. That’s why I will let you get to know more about her from her own words.
Ines Subashka: Introduce yourelf.
Margarita Maneva: My name is Margarita Maneva and I am from Varna, Bulgaria, but now I live in Pleven.
My main interests ( as well as my work) are optimal and functional eating and physical activity. My love for movement and healthy lifestyle, comes from my early childhood- I do not remember a period of my life, when I haven’t been active.
Ines Subashka: How did you start doing yoga? How does yoga influence your mind and body and what do you think is the main advantage of introducing yoga classes in your life? Do you think that more people should do yoga and why?
MM: I don’t really remember exactly how I started doing yoga. All I can remember is that it was a long time ago and the information available was pretty scarce. Since then, I’ve had a lot of periods when I stopped doing yoga, but for the past 5-6 years ( since I found Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga) I’ve turned it into something like a religion, and I do it six days a week. To be honest I often skip the rest day and do yoga on the seventh day as well.
For me, this yoga style has obvious advantages, compared to the other types of yoga that I’ve tried- it is extremely adaptive, it can be modified for every person, no matter his level and state of health. The only obstacle on the way is laziness. Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga, differs with extreme dynamics and if you do it according to all of its recommendations, it can be physically demanding and challenging.
For me, yoga, turned out to be a transformation tool in a lot of aspects in life. When it comes to its physical side, I look on it as a constant challenge to try new things, which I initially considered impossible, but with time and constant practice, they become possible and finally turn into a routine. Once a person sticks to a regular practice, improving your appearance comes as an additional extra”.
You develop an extremely fine feeling for your body and how it works and how it connects with the more fine levels of our existence. When it comes to the level of conscious, yoga cultivates the restless mind. The chaotic character of the conscious, interferes with the physical practice, and it should be performed with full awareness in every single moment.
I think that in the world we live, everybody needs to practice yoga, no matter the age, the sex, the religious belonging and so forth. The physical shape and the practice of yoga would be completely enough to change, both, the health of the body and the health of the mind.
Ines Subashka: What are your motives behind being vegan? People often ask me why I do not write posts about vegans. Personally, I think that I could give an advice, just for something that I’ve personally experienced. Since I haven’t been neither vegan, nor vegetarian, I will use this interview as an opportunity to ask you how do you think a vegan is supposed to eat? Share some of the recipes you’d include in a daily menu.
MM: Actually I am not exactly vegan. I used to be, but in my opinion this nutrition model does not work well. I love experimenting with my nutrition and I do not get too attached to a particular nutrition model- I try and choose what works for me in that particular period.
You won’t find meat, poultry, fish or sea food in my nutrition. It is my own conviction, that the commercial produce of meat and animal products, harms the “health’” of the nature. I eat dairy, in moderate amounts. I eat dairy products like butter and cheese, and minimal amounts of eggs. My long term practice as a “vegetarian”, showed me that the body functions better when you give it something different from plant foods. This is extremely true for women, for whom fats coming from plants, are not enough to sustain the balance of their fragile hormonal system.
For the past couple years, I am paying more attention to “super foods”- they are foods, which contain huge amounts ( for their volume) of micronutrients and they have a positive influence on your body. Examples for this are foods like: raw cocoa, bee products, seaweeds, medicine mushrooms, coconut products, herbs and some more. I think that with the present commercial produce of food and the following decrease of its nutrient value, these super foods are the future of healthy eating. A big part of them are still growing in the wild, which pretty much contributes to preserving their qualities.
When I recommend somebody a healthier nutrition plan, I do never recommend to exclude meat and animal products- this is a matter of personal choice. Yet, I encourage people to include fresh food, eating whatever they can in a raw state, and adding super foods.
Your body has an inborn intelligence and with time it starts recognizing the higher quality foods and it starts avoiding those that harm it. These recommendations are true for omnivores, as well as for vegans. Sometimes, blindly following a particular nutrition model, no matter what it is, could be tricky.
Since I am a follower of eating high energy foods, i.e. those that give you energy and after eating them you feel fresh and alive, I will share some of my recipes. Their preparation is pretty easy and quick.
IS: Would you share some of your secrets and tricks when it comes to cooking with raw, healthy products? ( what is your substitute for white flour; what is your substitute for sugar and so forth)
MM: I do not have that many tricks. I’d say I have a lot of experiments with food.
I am not the kind of person who avoids eating carbs ( there might be moments when I overdo them). I do not believe in “the ideal” proportion of macronutrients. For me, the key is the micronutrients of food, i.e. what makes it nutritionally dense.
I use flour when I need it, but I try to use its best resources.
When I make desserts, if they are raw I would add honey. If they should undertake thermic adaptation- I will use brown, reedy sugar or coconut sugar. The problem when it comes to dessert is not their sweetness, but where it comes from- sure, artificial sweeteners have no room in my kitchen, as well as, glucose-fructose liquid or powder derivatives.
In my kitchen, you can always find foods like raw cocoa, coconut butter, honey, aloe vera, maka, different kinds of medicine mushrooms and a lot of spices. I try not to substitute one ingredient for another- those that I consider harmful and unhealthy, are completely eliminated from my kitchen. I buy just the ingredients that bring for the feeling that I create something real and nutritious with my meals.
IS: Do you think that it takes a long time to prepare a delicious, healthy meal? Would you share your favorite recipes?
MM: It’s actually pretty simple. My favorite recipes do not require nothing more than a blender and 15 minutes. I will share my favorite recipe for a breakfast that could be prepared in less than 5 minutes. It contains 2-3 table spoons sesame tahini, one table spoon honey, ground cocoa nibs, the juice of half lemon, half tea spoon cinnamon and if I have some other ingredients, I might add: chia seeds, bee powder and etc. The combination is extremely delicious and it keeps me full and energetic for a large part of the day.
IS: Raw nuts are something like the foundation of raw desserts. Would you share what we should know about them? How should we store them, before we use them for “cooking”?
MM: Raw nuts are an extremely valuable food for your body, but it is good to be a little cautious about them. Keeping in mind that they contain some anti- nutrients, it would be better if we soak them in water, before we start cooking.
Besides that, the desserts you prepared with soaked nuts, should be eaten in the time frame of 24 hours, if you want to avoid rusting and the formation of mold.
It is not a good idea to eat them in huge quantities, because they contain a high amount of Omega 6 and we should balance with more Omega 3.
In short- no matter their fame of a healthy food, personally, I try to eat them in moderation.
When it comes to raw desserts, I prefer using more coconut products, than nuts, more dried fruit and cocoa.
Ines Subashka: In your opinion, why do so many woman have problems with eating disorders? What would be your advice to them?
MM: This is a tough question- the reasons behind these disorders might be countless and most of them have their roots in the unconscious mind. I think that the main factor is the way most women who suffer from eating disorders, percept their own self, as well as the fact that their perception is way off from reality. This interferes with their healthy relationships with other people and their healthy relationship with the surrounding world. I really hope that people will start adopting the right approach toward themselves and that they will switch from focusing on the outside world, to focusing on the inner world. I hope that they will stop trying to fit their outer “package” to some kind of twisted criteria.
Ines Subashka: Did your own perception- for yourself and your body, change since you started eating and training like this?
MM: I am constantly trying to actualize my training and nutrition, in direct correspondence with my momentum needs and the renewal of my knowledge. As you know, my main job is Ashtanga yoga and my workouts are adapted to what could help me earn a better perception about yoga movements.
I would often skip a whole week of working out, because yoga practice is really demanding and exhausting, both physically and psychologically, and it always keeps me on the edge of what I consider possible.
I always try to give my best of the day and I always try to eat meals that will bring the most satiety in correspondence with my body’s momentum needs. This approach makes me feel that I am giving my body the optimal quality and quantity of movement and nutrition, so I can feel healthy and energetic.
Ines Subashka: Are people around you supportive?
MM: I have the support of my loved once and this is what matters. In my social contacts with other people, I often meet some doubts and skepticism, which I accept as a challenge- the challenge to dispel them through facts and results.
Ines Subashka: I could definitely say that you are a wonderful personal example- you do a lot of things and you do not whine that you are too busy or that you do not have enough time. How do you find motivation? What would be your advice to people who find it hard to fit all their deeds in their schedule?
MM: I carry the motivation inside of me. A person does not really have an excuse to not take care of himself- I’ve had periods of my life, when I had to wake up at 5 a.m., just so I can manage to do the important ( in my opinion) things and then get busy working. There is rarely a moment when the time is not enough. When physical activity and good nutrition are a part of your day, you will ALWAYS find some time for them.
People who find it hard to take care of themselves, would better rewrite their priorities and plan according to them.
IS: What do you wish for yourself in the future and how could my readers connect with you?
MM: I wish a lot of positive energy, so I can give more of it to people around me. I wish that more people will pay attention to yoga lifestyle and the stamp that it leaves in the world around them, to enjoy life more and respect it more- not just their personal life, but each one of its manifestations; to pay more attention to meaningful things.
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