"The whole concept of Ayurveda, and that everything is connected and is made of the same energies and elements, has also helped me to live a more open and relaxed life, all around. It gives me a sense of security and support when I feel stressed or negative, and it has helped me to think more positively and to understand and manage the ups and downs of daily life."
Danielle Copperman is a full-time model at IMG, holistic nutritionist and chef, entrepreneur (founder of quinoa-based breakfast goods Qnola), writer and first-time author of recently released book, Well Being. During her career as model, Danielle has become more and more in tune with how our lifestyle choices powerfully influence the way we look and, most importantly, feel. Trained in Strala yoga and holistic massage, Danielle has a hands-on understanding of the physical, emotional and energetic body and mind, and her work includes reducing stress, enhancing creativity, enhancing confidence and positivity, soothing digestive issues, increasing energy flow of the body and mind. Her main intention is to help people reduce the feeling of being stuck or lost, reduce the side effects of modern stress and burnout and to enhance the potential of living a higher, fuller life, through natural food and simple ancient rituals. Danielle is hosting a Nutrition & Well-Being retreat in St. Lucia this coming May.
"I have come to notice real benefits from creating a space to support myself and to thrive in."
What does Ayurveda mean to you?
Ayurveda to me means exactly what it translates to: the knowledge of life or the science and wisdom of life. It takes into account all areas of life and considers how everything — the energies and elements of the universe, nature, animals, people and even times, temperatures and places — are connected. It considers things holistically and as a whole, and groups the characteristics of a person, place or situation into one, or a combination of, the three Doshas: Vata, Kapha and Pitta. For me, Ayurveda is a means for understanding all elements of life on a much deeper level, and treating everyone and everything in this universe and lifetime as a whole: interconnected and supported by one another. It helps me to make sense of things going on around and within me. It also gives me a higher sense of purpose and meaning, and helps me to understand the natural ebb and flow of life, and embrace it rather than being freaked out about it. It is about being in sync, in balance and in harmony, being open and giving rather than being closed and concerned only by our own internal relations.
When did you discover it? How long have you been practising it?
I first discovered Ayurveda a few years ago, I'm not sure exactly when or how but I think it was through a selection of books I was reading. I think I first discovered it in association with diet and nutrition, exploring natural ingredients such as herbs and tonics, which I then discovered were part of this much bigger community of teachings and ideas. I have been practising many of its teachings ever since, including daily tongue scraping, neti pot cleansing, oil pulling, self-massage, eating Ayurvedic foods and making drinks with Ayurvedic herbs.
What drew you to Ayurveda?
I was drawn to the alternative ideas and the approach to daily rituals and routines using natural, nourishing ingredients and methods. I was instantly inspired by all the ways you could replace modern rituals often dominated by manufactured products with more natural ingredients that were simple, easy and accessible whilst also being more sustainable and eco-friendly.
Has it helped you with anything major?
Using certain herbs and adaptogens has definitely helped me to manage stress. They have also helped enhance my energy levels and improve my digestion. The 6 tastes and the categorisation for each Dosha has also helped me to have a more fulfilling, understandable and individualised relationship with food. Massage and neti pot cleansing has also upped my beauty rituals and has helped with detoxifying and reducing physical blocks in the body. The whole concept of Ayurveda, and that everything is connected and is made of the same energies and elements, has also helped me to live a more open and relaxed life, all around. It gives me a sense of security and support when I feel stressed or negative, and it has helped me to think more positively and to understand and manage the ups and downs of daily life.
Is Ayurveda part of your everyday life or just for your medicine cabinet or fall-back routine?
I would consider it a big part of my everyday life. I tongue scrape every day without fail and always take my tongue scraper abroad with me — it's such a simple ritual. I also use oils and aromatherapy, practise self-massage a few times a month (if I find the time), and enjoy Ayurvedic ingredients almost daily — either as a morning or evening drink or as part of a full meal.
What are your top 3 Ayurvedic tips that have worked for you?
Using Ayurvedic herbs in drinks or in essential oil form for external use.
Timing your eating. I eat my biggest meal at lunch time and keep breakfast and dinner to a minimum, in order to give my digestion rest and keep in tune with my genuine hunger.
Managing things like colours, clutter, scents and sounds of a space, particularly my living space, has really helped me manage my moods, emotions and output. I have come to notice real benefits from creating a space to support myself and to thrive in.
What surprised you most about Ayurveda?
How much sense it made everything suddenly make!
Did you integrate it gradually or overnight for any particular reason?
I guess both, kind of. I adopted a few routines around the same time, but I am still introducing new practices and am always discovering new things.
Do your children/family eat an Ayurvedic diet? And if they do, do they know it’s Ayurveda or do they just think of it as home cooking?
My boyfriend and family will often have a taste of Ayurvedic food if I'm cooking, but I won't really spotlight it. I have a lot of friends who are also into Ayurveda, so we will often get together and make Ayurvedic food — especially if we have similar constitutions. This is something I will definitely incorporate into my children's diets and practices in the future too.
What is your favourite Ayurvedic recipe or go-to ingredient?
I love a tonic with ghee and adaptogens like cacao, ashwaganda, triphala, maca, and occasionally throw in some ginger, turmeric and other chia spices. I also love chai tea, adore Jasmine's ladoos, and try to make a big vat of kitchari once a month to stock up the freezer.
How does Ayurveda fit into your day-to-day routines?
Morning routines, dietary choices, daily meditation, self-massage when I'm tense, aromatherapy, getting out in nature, waking with the sunrise (usually when I'm on holiday as it's never so worth the early mornings in london!).
Do you wish it was easier in our society to make an Ayurvedic lifestyle more accessible?
Yes, I wish there were more places to eat Ayurvedic dishes or buy ready-to-eat Ayurvedic snacks. I also wish there was more information widely available to others, to help a wider audience understand more about the world we live in and to make educated and relative choices rather than just agreeing to the norm and following trends.
Do people around you/in your circle of friends know about Ayurveda?
Some, but not many. I am super excited to be hosting a retreat at The Body Holiday in May, which has some specialised Ayurvedic dining and spa treatments, and I am really looking forward to sharing this with others. I am also determined to get more on my website about it, to encourage and inspire people to discover more.
What’s the one thing you would encourage everyone to try or you think would benefit the majority of people’s health for the better?
Tongue scraping. Neti pot. Being open to this way of thinking and curious to learn more. And looking far beyond just food as a means of being well and healthy. In Ayurveda I love that it puts spotlight on the fact that your current wellbeing could be influenced by something as simple as a place or the weather or even a season, amongst other things, and that your current wellbeing is constantly changing. I would encourage people to learn more about their Doshas and understand why they may feel certain ways at certain times, and to indulge in creating an environment and adopting rituals to really support themselves as much as possible.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I've read many ancient books and manuals on Ayurveda, but to apply simple steps to fast-paced modern life, East by West is a great place to start!