Meet Maria

Meet Maria


“You know something amazing? YOU ARE allowed to change. Your beliefs, they’re allowed to change too. You’re understandings, them too. Your dreams? Yep, them too. Everything can, and not only can, but SHOULD change. To aspire for the inverse is to support stagnation, is to support and hope for the predictable: to stay within the confines of supposed safety through familiarity and control. But why? For what? Growth, joy, exhilaration, FUN, pleasure, sensuality, abundance, expansiveness all of these delightful aspects of being human certainly due not happen (at least for the most part) when we make ourselves stay small and the same. They are found within the delicate yet robust dance between familiarity & the unknown world ???? ???? me trying on mums new “I’m so fabulooosss” glasses ????” Maria

Maria Praeg (@thehealingroot_) is a movement and Ayurvedic mastermind. Based in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape, Maria created a healing root platform that pairs Ayurveda and Macrobiotics with human movement in order to help people achieve the highest consciousness possible. We talked to this inspirational beauty about how she got started with her journey and how she shares it so effortlessly with the world!



Tell us a little bit about you and what you do.

Hello! My name is Maria Praeg. I am living in Grahamstown in the Eastern Cape. I am an only child. Currently I am a full time student at Rhodes University studying Human Kinetics & Ergonomics and Psychology. I LOVE Human Kinetics – it looks at all things to do with human movement and work/space design – things from physiology, exercise physiology, neurophysiology, anatomy, biology, rehabilitation, sport science as well as various cognitive models that help to understand human movement. It is truly amazing!

I am a Yoga and Meditation teacher and give workshops (nationally and internationally) on the Energy of Food, Ayurveda and Macrobiotics and how to use these ancient healing systems in our present day and time to facilitate deep healing on an individual and collective level. I am a certified whole food, healing chef – with a deep passion for all things energy and healing related. I have trained in the modalities of metaphysics, raw and living food, Ayurveda and Macrobiotics so I also do some one-on-one mentoring/life coaching.

“There is freedom in THIS moment RIGHT NOW to shift your thinking, to consciously begin to challenge those internal narratives and thereby actively change the way you relate to yourself and your life and the world at large. You have absolute freedom in your mind, and when you can tap into this freedom (by becoming PRESENT and deepening conscious awareness) your life becomes fully your own. It is not always easy to reduce the clutter of these mental stories and uncover the deeper truth of your being because of the layers and layers and years and years of having mentally built these walls of narrative. But all that you need is to re-commit daily to this process of stripping away the fluff, of meeting yourself tenderly and becoming still. This is conscious work that gives you open access to your heart and intuition always.” Maria


What was the inspiration behind becoming a Wellness influencer, Yoga teacher and Whole Foods Healing Chef and creating The Healing Root platform?

In a world where we hold on to a lot of trauma and intensity – I really wanted to bring forward some light, some healing, some nurturing, some softness, some reminders to create space and hold yourself. To, even though I am learning this myself every day, share what I have learnt on my intensely deep and long inner journey thus far and to hopefully inspire others to keep journeying inward, to keep softening, to keep healing and to keep expanding beyond self-induced limitations. I hoped/hope to remind people to meet themselves in every moment with compassion, to release rigidity, to let go of trauma and essentially help people to create more openness and freedom, balance, peace and harmony in their lives through recognizing and activating their own healing potential.

“I am SO excited to announce that the recipe for these delectable cruelty-free Hazelnut-Chocolate-Mousse Pots is now LIVE on the blog <3
I chat a bit about the fun process that lead to the creation of these but ALSO touch on a personal, real & raw subject that is very close to my heart: ADDICTION, HEALING & CONNECTION. I also talk about the role that meditation, Yoga & delving deeper into consciousness has played in my healing journey. Namaste, ????” Maria 


Can you explain to our readers how the energy of foods, the healing modalities of Ayurveda, Macrobiotics, yoga and meditation can put people in a perfect state of balance?

Wow. This is a very long topic – I didn’t even VAGUELY cover all the juicy bits in a 4-hour workshop that I did at Nourish’d Café – but I will try my best to condense the broader nuggets of wisdom of these teachings.

Firstly, I don’t really believe in a “perfect” state of balance. Balance itself is not something that is ever static. It is constantly in motion, fluid and dynamic. Therefore, it demands of us to constantly shift and change with the changes we experience both internally and externally. As such, balance is an ability to really listen to yourself and take appropriate action moment by moment in accordance to what you hear.

Essentially, the healing modalities of Ayurveda, Macrobiotics and Yoga offer such a wealth of knowledge. These systems are not dogmatic or prescriptive – like anything, they can be if you approach them in this way. BUT, the systems themselves offer us immense wisdom and insight into the different energetic qualities that comprise life so that we can make more energetically informed decisions that best support our quest for health.

These systems emphasize three core understandings:

1) We all have an innate ability to self-heal. It is through connecting to this innate ability to self-heal we can become active agents and more intimately engaged in our own journey to wellbeing – on all of the levels. To hand over your health to any one system, lifestyle, expert, professional or otherwise is to give away your own power. By actually listening to the deep inner well of guidance we always know what is true for us.

2) Balance. Pivotal to these healing modalities is the notion of balance. When we live in a state of balance, we are able to come into our fullest expression of our true nature. By expressing our true nature, we are able to live in alignment, which is a state of flow, of clarity, of dynamism. This enables us to remove the factors that might be obscuring our fullest potential as individuals.

This notion of balance is something that is used a lot in the health movement and world today. But often the deep understanding of what it entails is thrown by the wayside.

Balance doesn’t simply mean “moderation” or living a measured life or following one way of being in the world rigidly. It means coming to a place of constant energy management – of listening so deeply to our state of being as it is within any given moment so that we can learn to shift and change with the dynamic demands of what the true health journey is asking of you in any given moment, and that these demands shift moment to moment. Life is not static, therefore the journey towards balance is not static or linear by any means, too. It is about being flexible and open to change.

3) Bio-individuality: both of these systems stress the fact that the healing journey is completely individual. What you need in any given moment is completely different to what someone else might need to restore their balance. We all come to the present moment with a completely idiosyncratic bank of experiences, perceptions, beliefs, thoughts, upbringings, identifications and environments and as such as all relate completely differently to our worlds.

Besides these external factors that create inter-individual difference in terms of what is good for any one person, we also have completely different genetic and energetic make-ups which influence these perceptions and ways of being. These ancient healing systems offer us very deep and subtle frameworks or understandings of how best to navigate the idiosyncratic nature of the individuals’ quest for harmony.

In a time where we have become so disconnected from the natural processes of listening to ourselves and to nature – these systems teach us how to reclaim that capacity to regard ourselves as our own most precious authority so that we can truly live a life that is harmonious and rich, a life where we are able to take more responsibility for our health – not in a rigid, dogmatic, or obsessive way. But in a way that encompasses and extends compassion for where we are at in any given moment.

Yoga and meditation give us the tools to slow down the mind, connect with the breath and create SPACE. It is within this spaciousness that we can contact that inner voice of intuition.

‘Yesterday and especially today, I reconnected to my Yoga practice so deeply and so lovingly. It was one of the most insane experiences of my life. I felt the most immense energetic release of various energetic, emotional and physical blockages that were being worked through, eased into and let go of with loving presence and awareness. Since my neck injury I’ve had to really re-define my practice: focusing more on meditation. & breath work, which has been immensely insightful and has expanded my practice into stillness. But, after ages, my body and energetic and emotional body have been craving the full on expansion and release that accompanies a fuller practice of: asana, pranayama and meditation and the last few days it has reminded me of the essence of Yoga, or union, of connection. .
I felt that deep connection to my most authentic inner nature. That stillness. That space. The space beyond the fluff of ego-narratives that the mind chases and that actions perpetuate. SPACE. Liberation. Letting go. Letting BE. .
Becoming still, both in mind and body has come to be one of the most profound lessons I’ve ever learnt – and continue to learn. Becoming still gives rise to presence, and presence gives rise to your Truth. ????’ Maria


Your story of healing that started through the channel of suffering from addiction is incredibly inspiring. What 3 tips could you share with our readers who are going through the same journey?

Thank you so much! It’s been a really hectic, challenging and often messy journey to get to where I am today but with that, there has been so much learning, so much growing so I really mean it when I say I wouldn’t change a thing. My top three tips would be to:

1) Find a practice – For me, yoga and meditation changed my life the most. But any practice that is based in mindfulness and helps to create SPACE for you will do.

2) Therapies – try different kinds of therapies, prioritize your healing. Make it the reason you get up every day. And know that healing is not always clear, that sometimes the most healing things are experiences that are difficult, but they have a place by shifting our perspectives and changing how we understand and relate to ourselves. Journal. Read. Research. GET HELP from a variety of sources and modalities but also recognize that at the end of the day, the healing happens within YOU. But, this also doesn’t mean you have to do this by yourself, but essentially healing originates from within. That is not to say you shouldn’t find and use various modalities that support this inward journey.

3) Support network + connection – this is so important. Connection is everything. Connection and being truly present and absorbed with your interactions with those that you love will show you that you are loved no matter your form, they will show you that you can let go and just enjoy your life and find joy in the simple things and that control is a myth and it is over-rated anyway. These moments will teach you that you are safe in how loved you are and that you can trust yourself and your life. AND, that you are lovable in all of your contradictory, beautiful glory.

4) And… HEALING IS MESSY – to remember this is really important. I think we often have an idea about how we want our healing journey to look, be or feel. But this is so not the case. Often, healing is messy, difficult and immensely trying and looks completely different to how you want it to look. But the journey of healing is as much a journey of learning how to surrender. Learning to give up the controls means to let go of the reins and let life gift you with the lessons you need in any given moment and to just trust in what you are experiencing. This is hard when there is a lot of shame or guilt feelings. But, let these experiences of difficulty or “messiness” bring you into a practice of softening to yourself through continual self-directed compassion and forgiveness. Let your experiences teach you.

“Wow. Just wow. It’s been a time of BIG change, so much healing and so much growth. I’ve been challenging myself in so many unexpected and profound ways, pushing past limiting mental constructs and finding new expressions of and expansions of deep internal FREEDOM. Freedom from addiction, freedom from debilitating health ailments, freedom from mental identifications and it has been completely liberating & illuminating. ••
The journey of learning to love yourself, be friendly to yourself and HEAL (both physically & mentally) yourself is not linear, it is not the same for any two people and means something totally different for each person depending on their life experiences & needs in that moment. I’m coming to fully understand this in my own journey. Letting go of dogma, letting go of ways of perceiving, letting go of the all or nothing mentally, finding spaciousness within the in-between spaces of limbo, letting go of seeing my own self-worth as being so connected to what I do or what I do and don’t eat or the lifestyle I live. I am lovable and worthy because. Simply because. Because I am here. Because I exist. I am not more or less worthy because of my actions or inactions. As Eckhart Tolle so aptly reminded me all those years ago: you are NOT your actions or thoughts. Yes they matter. BUT, they are NOT WHO you are. ••” Maria


What are some of your daily inspirations, challenges and rewards as a busy entrepreneur/Instagram influencer?

For me, the biggest challenges of being an entrepreneur and Instagram influencer (it feels weird even saying that!?) is the balance of work/life/University/social media and self-time for healing and filling my tank. I have really busy days and often I find that I have such a deep passion for the creative work that I do with/on The Healing Root but at the moment my biggest priorities are my studies and my work, so basically it’s the challenge of balancing my priorities! One of the other biggest challenges I face is that I am not actually 1) very good at using technology 2) I often have a very conflicted relationship with technology – I want to spend as little time on it as possible because I find it very hard sometimes to stay deeply present and mindful when using technology, but I also recognize that it is an incredible means of connecting and sharing and creating a positive healing ripple effect.

My biggest daily inspirations are: nature, movement and the life lessons that I have had and continue to have that keep me on my toes. And connecting with people that uplift and enliven my spirit. Another daily inspiration is spending time learning about things I am deeply passionate about. And stillness. In stillness, inspiration comes to me because in stillness you open yourself to more of who you are and you open yourself to more of life in all of its subtle, nuanced beauty.

Biggest rewards of this work is receiving messages from people that have resonated with what I share/teach and hearing about their deep healing stories that have emerged from the work done through this platform. It inspires me more than I could put into words.


What do you find is the hardest challenge balancing your work and personal life?

In a world where we hold on to a lot of trauma and intensity – I really wanted to bring forward some light, some healing, some nurturing, some softness, some reminders to create space and hold yourself. To, even though I am learning this myself every day, share what I have learnt on my intensely deep and long inner journey thus far and to hopefully inspire others to keep journeying inward, to keep softening, to keep healing and to keep expanding beyond self-induced limitations. I hoped/hope to remind people to meet themselves in every moment with compassion, to release rigidity, to let go of trauma and essentially help people to create more openness and freedom, balance, peace and harmony in their lives through recognizing and activating their own healing potential.

“What is it, this process, of coming to FEEL human? ••

Accepting this physical form, loving this physical form, but not attaching to it either, finding the process of claiming and stepping into my own power, my own Self but also of letting go of any sense of sense of self. The smallness, the bigness. The macrocosm, the microcosm. The infinite, the finite. The eternal/immortal, the mortal. Life, death. The dance of being alive is so wondrous and so tumultuous and so complex and also so simple. ••
Coming to feel human has been a processing of deeply allowing all of my lived experience. Letting go of the need to control, judge or categorize my experiences into: good, bad, reject, avoid, grasp, hold onto, attach, attract. To be porous enough to let experience flow through me but to also be a PART of and deeply interwoven with that experience ???? what has it meant to you? I would love to hear ????” Maria


What is your self-care philosophy?

My self-care philosophy is pretty simple: it is to meet yourself where you are at in this moment with as much tenderness and compassion as you can. And that self-care looks different in any given moment and that the key is to really listen. When we can listen to what we need in any given moment, truly listen, not through the mind, but through the heart which is more intimately connected to the innate intelligence of the body and spirit, then filling your own tank comes naturally because you take action from this enlightened heart space. Self-care also looks different in any given moment: sometimes self-care looks like giving yourself a lovely bath and a self-massage with essential oils but then other times it’s going for a lovely jog in a park or going out for a coffee with a friend, other times self-care is making a slowly-prepared, nourishing, healthy meal and yet other times it is indulging in that doughnut or going out for a glass of wine with a friend. I do not believe in absolutes anymore. There is no black or white. There is no right or wrong way of self-care, so long as it is coming from a place of really authentic, intentional engagement with Self. When actions are made with love and consciousness it brings us further into alignment. I have two blog posts on self-care routines and rituals.

They are here if you’d like to see more practical ways that I practice self-care this is part one:  And then this is part 2:


Take us through an average day in the life, the first thing you do in the morning through to the last thing you do at night.

Every single day is different for me – but I try to have some semi-regular routine things that I do every morning and night that help to give me some consistency and nourishment.

In the morning, I wake up and the first thing I do is wash my mouth out with water and then tongue scrape. I then drink some water and take my pro-biotic. I then wash my face with my favourite tee-tree face wash and then I drink a warm beverage. I then do some sort of movement. Either I will do a nice long yoga practice, or go for a jog in nature followed by some breath work and then a shower and get ready for the day. This is on days where I don’t teach yoga in the morning. At the moment I am teaching yoga about 4 mornings a week. So this shifts my morning routine some. Then I eat breakfast and go off to Uni. Come back later for lunch, do some more work, maybe teach another class and then go for a cycle or a walk on the mountain with a friend and then I come home, shower, make dinner and share and eat it and then I try to always ensure that I meditate or do some pranayama (breath work) or some yoga or something mindful – even if that is just a self-care massage or a half hour of cleaning/clearing my space, lighting incense, lighting some essential oil burners or candles. I also always try to at least read 3 pages of something I am interested in (either a novel or another book on Ayurveda, Nutrition, lifestyle, yoga etc.) or journal. Then some nights I will do work (for Uni or for The Healing Root) and then other nights I will watch a series or two. Wash my face and then go to bed. I try to ensure that I don’t use technology minimum 30 minutes before bed but ideally an hour before bed but this isn’t always possible with work. This my ideal routine when things are going well and balanced. Obviously, it is subject to changes according to what’s going on in my life – sometimes I don’t get a chance to move or exercise at all because I am really busy or because I am tired and need to rest. Other days I struggle to get onto my yoga mat for an asana practice, then I will just try to meditate or read. It really fluctuates a lot 🙂 But I do try to always incorporate things that “fill my tank” every day.

“Oatmeal dreams coming true ????. Pecan nut butter is my new latest obsession. It’s my current go-to vata pacifying dietary addition – grounding me almost instantaneously ????” Maria


What does your perfect day in Cape Town look like?

My perfect day in Cape Town will always start with nature – a long walk in a forest or on the mountain, finishing it with a plunge in the ocean and then follow that with a beautiful meal. Then some tea time catching up with friends, yoga, more good food, maybe a different kind of movement class or something that I can’t usually find or do in Grahamstown. As well as some different kinds of therapies that I don’t have access to living in a small town and then a beautiful dinner with friends and loved ones and then maybe a good boogie. And some more yoga. To be honest, I find Cape Town very intense. Coming from a small town, I often get very overwhelmed by the intense energy and pace of the city but I LOVE being there for short stints of time to fill my inspiration and stimulation tank. Then I love to retreat somewhere quiet again to still the mind and connect – which is what I value most. Places near Cape Town that I love to do that is Greyton.


Where are your three favourite destinations to travel to alone/with family/friends? Do you have any trips planned?

I do have some travel plans up my sleeve – I am heading to Australia in December and January. I will be going to Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, and the Gold Coast (and all the little surrounding coastal towns). I am so excited. I am visiting family and friends.

My top three destinations to travel to are:

1. Bali, Indonesia (specifically Ubud and Canggu)

2. Austin, Texas (amazing amazing place)

3. Europe – France, Netherlands and Italy.


What is your philosophy when it comes to food?

That your body has an incredible intelligence beyond your mind to tell you what you need in order to come into your fullest expression of health and what that means and looks like to you. Simple. Whole foods. Pleasure. Freedom. Non-restriction. Energy. Balance. And that there is no good or bad food, but only perception that influences how food interacts with our mind-body. Yes, there are innately good foods (such as kale) but, sometimes eating kale isn’t what going to bring you into balance maybe a hearty bowl of stew or oatmeal will be more balancing for you in that moment. Or maybe what will bring you into a deeper state of general wellbeing and health will be going out for a sweet treat with some friends. I used to be so dogmatic in my food philosophy but this ended up really constricting me and limiting how open I was to experiencing other joys of LIFE. In my opinion, our ability to nourish ourselves directly relates to how much of life we are willing to let in. So, when I am being overly rigid and dogmatic about food, this translates into a wider energy with which I engage with in my life. This is really unhelpful; limiting my freedom and joy. So, what I come back to always is truly listening. Listen in a deep way – beyond what the mind is telling you it wants or doesn’t want. Come into listening that goes deeper and more in alignment with your whole being

“Did someone say baked oatmeal carrot cake bars? Filled with only the best goodness ???? walnuts, carrot, apple, banana, oats. It’s gluten-free, refined sugar free, plant based, starch based and DELICIOUSLY grounding and soothing. My newest breakfast (and anytime, really … obsession!). Quick, easy, moist, dense, delicious & hearty. Perfect for those on-the-trot breakfasts ????” Maria


Could you share your favourite recipe with us

One of my current favourite sweet recipes is either my chocolate hazelnut loaf (this recipe is available on the Yogateket website under their blog) or my chickpea blondie recipe (this recipe is live on the blog under my “sweet” section). In terms of savoury recipes I would say my baked tofu, Brussel sprouts and fresh salad (with all the fixings).


What does health, beauty and fitness mean to you?

For me, true health is about listening. It is about coming into a state of deep harmony – both within and without. Health is not a complete picture if you are physically fit and your lab results are perfect. Health is multi-dimensional and there are so many facets to health. True health, for me, is finding balance in every area of my life (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual). I used to live in extremes. The healing system of Ayurveda and Macrobiotics both taught me the art of balance. In a way, it’s easy to live in extremes. The real challenge, the real healing, the real journey to health is finding balance.

To me, beauty is an energy. For me, I perceive beauty in people when they radiate a particular kind of energetic aliveness. This energy, this perceivable electric current of ‘beauty’ that you can see in someone’s eyes when they smile from a place deep within themselves or in the radiancy of healthy skin has a name. In Ayurveda it is called Ojas. Ojas is essentially the coursing element of wellbeing in a person. People with high levels of ojas have high immunity, high levels of energy that are contained within a mindful and sattvic (balanced) lifestyle, they are vital and exuberant. They express overall contentment and joy. This is beauty for me.

Fitness to me is being in a state of physical health and vitality and strength where you are active daily and have a high daily physical functionality which enables you to experience more of life more fully. Fitness affords you the opportunity to engage with life in more physically embodied ways.


Must have beauty products

I love the Body Shop products in general – specifically their Shea Body butter, their Ginger shampoo and their Rose Face Serum are amazing. Otherwise, my face care and beauty product regime is super super simple. I use a clear tee-tree face wash and either the rose serum as moisturizer or if not that, then some plain cold-pressed olive oil or almond oil as both my body and face moisturizer.


Biggest vice(s)?

My biggest vices are exercise and food. Obviously when in balance, these two things are healthy and I have a good relationship with them. But when times are stressful or things are hectic or I am dealing with a lot emotionally – these are the first two things I turn to that become imbalanced and “negatively” impacted. I often tend to have an over-reliance on movement to feel okay or I tend to turn to food (in either excess or deficiency) to try and re-gain a sense of agency, control, independence and personal power.


Something you can’t live without?

I cannot live without connection (most importantly in the form of friends/family and YOGA). In terms of food, I cannot live without fruit, dates, tahini, avocado and soy sauce. And high quality, beautiful bread.

“And after all is said and done, its the people. It’s the connections. It’s the love and relating to one another with loving kindness, silliness, whole-hearted acceptance of the other and the self, meeting people (including yourself) exactly where you and they are at in any given moment that counts the most. There’s that beautiful quote that goes something like: ‘You won’t ever look back and think, “oh yes that night I got that great nights sleep”. You will look back at the times of loving & sharing’. Having said that, there is a time and place for both: sleeping (and attending to quiet internal needs) and a time for opening, sharing & just having FUN. ❤️????. It’s about that beautiful dance of finding balance in it all.” Maria


What is next for you?

I am likely going to be doing a post graduate degree in human kinetics next year – I would love to put more energy and time into the Blog and the other Healing Root platforms and to create some magic with fellow amazing souls. Some beautiful collaborations and some more retreats are hopefully on the cards as well as some more healing workshops and talks about the Energy of Food. After next year I would like to travel and work some more. And who knows what will emerge between now and then!


Is there anything we have not asked that you would like to talk about?

If you’d like to learn more about what I do and share you can follow and subscribe to The Healing Root blog where I post recipes, talk about the energy of food, Ayurveda and reflect on some deeper life lessons! You can also follow The Healing Root on Instagram at @thehealingroot_ for more regular posts and shares. I love connecting with people – so please, if you would like to connect, chat or collaborate in any way please don’t hesitate to reach out to me via email at [email protected]

Quick Fire:

Sweet or Savoury? Wow. This is a really hard question. Off the bat though I would say sweet.
Hot or cold? Definitely hot.100%.
Lips or Eyes? Eyes
Smoothie or Juice? Juice
Yoga or Pilates? YOGA every time.
Coffee or Tea? Coffee
Favourite movie ever? Cliché as it may sound it’s between: Eat Prey Love, The Holiday, Charles Angels (yes I know … ahhaa).
Describe yourself as a person in 3 words Compassionate, existential and loving.
Your favourite thing in your closet right now? Honestly, my vests that keep me warm and cosy hahaa
What’s on your cell phone playlist at the moment (3-5 favourites)?
Passing trains by George Fitzgerald
Apocalypse by Cigarettes after Sex
Kiasmos – Kiasmos full Album
River by Leon Bridges
Helplessly Hoping by Crosby, Stills Nash
Fascination by Nat King Cole
Hands Around My Throat by Death in Vegas
Har Haray Hari Wahe by Kamari Manvir
One book you read that positively shaped you?
A New Earth – Eckhart Tolle
The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer
Awareness by Anthony de Mello
Favorite Tv show? MasterChef Australia, The Handmaid’s Tale, Criminal Minds.
One superpower you would like to have? To fly.
Best gift you have ever received? My gran’s opal ring and her locket that she engraved my name onto.

Maria Praeg •• The Healing Root

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