National Geographic Traveller
Face of Ralph Lauren, model Valentina Zelyaeva talks to Joanna Reeves about her hero skin product, love of raw food, getting spiritual in Mumbai, and more…
How do you stay in shape?
I enjoy Pilates and love how yoga makes me feel: balanced, relaxed, focused, alert and in tune with myself. I’ve also recently got hooked on kickboxing.
Any essential workout tech?
I use the MindBody Connect app to find fitness studios and book yoga and Pilates classes.
Where’s your ultimate yoga hotspot?
Jivamukti NYC in Manhattan, but practising yoga in India was a dream come true. I practise wherever I am — I love that you can do it anywhere around the world.
Which yoga gear tops your wishlist?
Live The Process is great for clothes and Gaiam has gorgeous mats.
Most inspiring yoga quote?
“Yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self.” — The Bhagavad Gita
What foods make you feel good?
I discovered the raw food lifestyle seven years ago. I make almond milk at home — it’s a very versatile recipe — and I use it for my smoothies, oatmeal, chia seed puddings and in coffee or tea.
Do you always eat healthily?
I try to, but I don’t deprive myself of treats, especially chocolate. But right before a bikini photoshoot, I’ll usually cut back on sugar and reach for a smaller plate — so I can fit less food on it! But of course there are days where I reach for a pizza… I’m only human!
Who’s your foodie inspiration?
I like to follow Sakara Life (@sakaralife on Instagram) — it has the best healthy recipes.
Do you keep up your healthy diet and fitness when you’re travelling?
I travel a lot for work so I book hotels with a gym, plus if I’m near a beach, I love to run along the shore. I like to eat like a local when I’m away because that’s how you experience different cultures. For me, it’s all about balance, so I’ll pack seeds, nuts and superfoods so I always have healthy snacks to hand to keep me from overindulging in those delicious cuisines.
Any long flight pick-me-ups?
I always take a bottle of doTERRA lemon essential oil and put one drop in a glass of water for an early-morning boost. Plus I try to relax at airport lounges by booking a massage. It’s a great way to pass the time during delays!
Any healthy food tips from your travels?
I learned about turmeric on a yoga retreat in India, where it’s long been used for its anti-inflammatory properties in traditional medicine. I add it to juices and smoothies — my favourite is an apple and pear juice.
How do you relax when you’re away?
I head to a botanical garden or park. When I touched down in Munich for a shoot, I headed straight to Theresa Meadow. I also love to visit museums and stroll around farmers’ markets.
And when you’re home?
I hang out with friends and head to Pratima, an ayurvedic spa in New York. The four-hand, full-body Abhyanga massage is amazing. I also have a facial once a month at Isabelle Bellis [New York].
What’s your hero product?
The Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask; it’s very moisturising. My skin loves it.
Any top tips for wellbeing?
Stay active. Drink lots of water and fresh vegetable juices. Eat what’s local and in season. Shop at farmers’ markets. Limit coffee and alcohol. Do what makes you happy.
How do you stay positive?
Life is not always filled with joy and laughter, it’s also filled with pain and tears, but you just have to focus on what’s good in life and the great things you can achieve.
What inspires you?
Nature, oceans, mountains. I was captivated by the beauty of Lion’s Head [mountain] in Cape Town, and I felt so tiny looking at the seemingly endless landscape at the Du Toitskloof Pass in the Western Cape.
Where do you go to relax?
I really like the upstate New York area. I love to hike at Bear Mountain State Park, the Catskill Mountains and Kaaterskill Falls, listening to Deva Premal on my iPod. And the Menla Mountain Retreat, in Phoenicia, is like a reset button for me; being out in the fresh air and among nature brings me back into balance.
Finally, your ultimate travel experience?
Mumbai is an incredibly spiritual place. I was there for Pushya Abhishek [the flower festival of Radha Gopinath Temple]. A ton of brightly coloured petals are showered upon the deities of Radha and Gopinath, and I was part of it — an experience I’ll never forget.