I'm thankful that my yoga practice has played an instrumental role in helping shape and improve my diet, and subsequently my health. But before we discuss how...
Disclaimer: I’m not a nutritionist nor am I a chef; and I’ll be the last person to peddle a diet plan. For the record, I’m an omnivorous freegan – which means though I’m not quite a garbage disposal or a street dog, I will eat just about anything that tastes good, especially if it’s free and fresh. And I always enjoy consuming food prepared for me by my students (wink, wink).
Back on topic - This was one of the unexpected benefits of yoga for me. I’m not the kind of guy to let a system dictate what sorts of things I put in my body as I like to think I can think (and feel) for myself - feel being the operative word here. I think how we feel – before, during, and after consuming food - should help shape and ultimately determine what we eat (Thanksgiving aside, ha-ha). This sounds to me more like common sense then yoga dogma.
"...eating certain foods, at certain times, in certain quantities, impedes the energetics of our practice – or even inhibits us from our practice altogether."
A routine yoga practice subtly demands we start paying attention to how we feel energetically. While the poses remain the same from day-to-day, our body is constantly changing based on what we eat (and other environmental factors). A pose or sequence of poses may feel light and free one day and near impossible on another. Because we are cause-and-effect seeking creatures, it doesn’t take long to start noticing patterns. We may come to see, as was in my case, that eating certain foods, at certain times, in certain quantities, impedes the energetics of our practice – or even inhibits us from our practice altogether. It’s a constant process of experimenting, deviating, tinkering, observing, accepting, habituating, relapsing, and recommitting. Because yoga is a physical practice, coming to our mat means coming to grips with what foods we put in our body and how it affects our health.
My diet - from when I started practicing yoga in 2008 to now - couldn’t be more different. The changes have not been sudden, but because my long-term commitment to my health (and to my yoga practice and profession) is greater than my transient desire for certain foods, I’ve allowed new cravings to percolate into my appetite. I shop at different grocery stores now. I buy foods from certain aisles and not from others. My refrigerator and pantry have different things in them than they once did. I use my cutting board a whole lot more than I ever did. The nice thing about routinely paying attention to your own body’s advice when it comes to diet is that instead of relying on an external system, diet book, or plan, we can begin to take ownership of our own unique situation. The foods we crave, buy, prepare, and eat shape not only our health, but the health of those around us. I’m grateful that I live in a time in history where colorful assortments of food are abundant, nutritional information is readily available, and I have a good vegetable knife. I’m thankful that yoga is a practice that can shine an indirect light on my relationship with food and gently (and slowly) nudge me in the right direction toward better health.
Now pass the gravy, please:)
Yoga Gratitude Continued...
#4 - A Strong Heart
#5 - Emotional Stability