Bringing together mind, body and soul in a union of mindful movement and food made to nourish much more than the physical.
Words by Rosie Cattrell
When I first walked through the doors of Sunshine Café and Yoga a couple of years ago, what struck me most was the tangible and uplifting atmosphere of friendly community, come together between white walls clad in cosy interiors and decorations from around the world to appreciate the simple offering of good food in good company. Little did I know then how deeply linked healthy, nourishing food is to the nourishment of the mind, as well as the body. After enlightening me on the subject of yoga and much more for DRIFT 28, I speak to Owner and Founder Ella Kite once more to delve a little deeper into the wonderful world of food at Sunshine.
“I’ve always been a bit obsessed with healthy eating and living,” Ella explains, “drawn to more natural ways of healing your body through food. I love those hardcore health food cafes that have been open for 30 years, way before it was ‘cool’; I think I always dreamt of having one of my own.” Raised by a woman with a love for the local health food shop, inspired by her best friend who ran an organic fruit farm in New Zealand since the 1980s, Ella grew up with the foundations in place to truly appreciate good, healthy food and all the benefits that come with it.
Through Sunshine Café and Yoga, Ella has been able to share her knowledge, experience and love for fresh, nourishing flavours with anyone seeking to replenish much more than an empty stomach. Combined with the yoga studio through the adjoining doors, this is a place where body meets mind in more ways than one, on which Ella kindly elaborates: “I love the combination of the yoga studio and the café, both draw some really different and interesting people in and it’s exciting to watch them become inquisitive about other aspects of the business. It’s lovely for people to have a space to spend time in after their yoga class, they can extend that feeling of calm that they cultivated in class. Sunshine is a great place for new connections; often people that have met in a yoga class will stay to have a drink with each other, and that’s lovely to see!
“I really wanted the café space to feel calming and relaxing, like you could take yourself out for the day and feel like you’re on a mini retreat. I designed the interior to reflect this and hopefully people feel like they are investing in their self-care when they order something delicious and nutritious off our menu.” Bowls heaped with veggies, sweet potato hash, homemade beans and sausage makes up the Sunshine Brekkie Bowl, a popular order at the café, while toasted sourdough topped with seasoned avocado, miso-marinated portobello mushrooms or homemade baked beans offers bursts of fresh flavour. The Grounding Dal, with red lentils and tomatoes infused with spices is sure to warm the heart, and the homemade granola served with coconut yoghurt, raspberry coulis and fresh fruit is a perfect start to any day. The choice of deliciously fresh salads, vegan sausage rolls, chickpea-based quiches and tarts might make your choice of lunch rather difficult, while the monthly Nourish Bowl could be a game changer, having ranged from tempeh ramens, burrito bowls with sticky jackfruit, sushi bowls with marinated tofu, and delicious chickpea and aubergine curries.
If it’s a sweet treat you’re dreaming of, the range of vegan and gluten-free bakes – not to mention the raw, refined-sugar-free treats that are made in-house – are perfectly accompanied by a turmeric, beetroot, chai or matcha latte, just made for cosy conversations with a friend. “I wanted to create a café and menu that showed all the delicious foods you could eat that were simple, healthy and delicious!” Ella continues. “Everything is made from scratch and super fresh; we use beans, pulses, tofu and tempeh for proteins in our dishes, as I’m not a fan of all these overly-processed vegan meat substitutes. We have fresh cold-pressed juices available to pack in all those extra nutrients too, which I was super keen to have on the menu.”
Sitting in my favourite corner seat in the café, resting on the squishy cushions with my hands wrapped around a warm and wonderfully green matcha latte, I can’t help but admire my surroundings, and wonder where the idea to bring food and yoga together in one place came from, on which Ella kindly enlightens me: “I was always inspired by the combination when I travelled and how both worked intrinsically into my lifestyle, keeping me grounded, connected and health-focussed. They hugely complement each other – healthy, balanced food for your physical health, balancing your blood sugar, hormones and helping support your mental health too; and yoga is amazingly beneficial for your physical and mental health, keeping your body mobile and strong and improving mental awareness and acceptance, calming your nervous system and de-stressing your life, connecting to the deep core of your being and purpose in life.”
Having opted for a Grounding Dahl, breathing in the soothing spices as I bring a spoonful to my tongue, I think of the faces behind the food, and the hands that make and serve it each day. “We have a wonderful team working in our café,” explains Ella, “some lovely and talented ladies that lift us up and put smiles on everyone’s faces.
“We have a few that rotate on the front of house shifts (Laura, Maddie and Minnie), making coffee, taking orders and serving. Then we have two lovely women that work in our kitchen, Lizzy and Sofia, making all our tasty food, raw cakes and bakes and coming up with lots of fun and tasty new ideas! Lizzy and Minnie also teach yoga and pilates in our studio and Minnie works as a massage therapist out of our Healing Room, so it’s great that our customers get to know them even more and they can share their talents further within our community! Our café manager, Laura, keeps the whole show running and is extremely lovely to work with. I feel extremely lucky to have such a fantastic team of women to support me and Sunshine, they are all amazing and such an asset to the business.”
Feeling full and entirely replete in many more ways than one, I know now that here is a place where body and mind come together through mindful movement, thoughtful food and a celebration of conversation. By serving healthy and well-considered food and drinks, Sunshine supports your practice of yoga whilst looking after your body, with a belief that the two work together to create a nourishment for your whole being – mind, body and soul.