Yoga and Food
How should a yogi relate to food and eating?
Sometimes people do yoga and exercise so they can eat more and eat more unhealthy foods. This mentality only works if you treat the body as a zero sum equation, where as long as you use more than you put in you will be healthy. The body is certainly more complex than that. Its response to 100 calories of blueberries is different from its response to 100 calories of cake. Nutrition (and health) is far more complex than just calorie counting.
DOWNWARD ENERGY & FASTING
Our body has strong natural digestive energy. It is a downward energy in the body that helps us digest, absorb and eliminate the food we eat. It also causes us to crave eating. One of the major goals of yoga is to turn this digestive energy into intellectual energy, redirecting the strength and vitality into our minds and spirituality. This is one reason why fasting is such a powerful spiritual tool. By halting digestion it greatly diminished the downward nature of the body's energy, making it easier to turn the energy upward.
WITHDRAWING THE SENSES
The sense of taste and the physical sensation of eating are powerful distractors of the mind. This is why we eat when we are stressed and when we are tired. The mind seeks comfort and distraction. An important practice in yoga is the Withdrawal of the Senses, well known as the 5th limb Pratyahara. Withdrawing the senses means not letting them dominate the attention of the mind. We see something and our mind goes there, we hear music or conversation and our mind goes there, we stroke our face and our mind goes there, we eat and our mind goes there.
We need to explore our taste and hunger when we practice Withdrawal of the Senses. Try not to let the mind be dominated and distracted by the sensations or thoughts of the sensations of eating.
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This journal honors my ongoing experience with the practice, study and teaching of yoga.
1) Sridaiva Yoga: Good Intention But Imbalanced
2) Understanding Chair Posture
2) Why I Don't Use Sanskrit or Say Namaste
3) The Meaningless Drudgery of Physical Yoga
5) Beyond Bikram: Why This Is a Great Time For Ghosh Yoga