Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Day 26: Ahimsa & Diet

You are what you eat.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Mysore w/ Deb C.
6:45 – 8:45 a.m.

I had some trouble getting up this morning and felt a little heavy and sluggish during practice — I think mostly due to eating a little too late last night, and maybe a little too much (guacamole, along with dark chocolate is a favourite indulgence). I've been trying to have the last meal of the day before 7 p.m. and when I eat later than that, I get the feeling I had this morning — that the food is still undigested and sitting in my stomach, slowing me down during practice.

It led me to further reflect on something I touched on yesterday, that idea of Ahimsa, or "doing no harm", and how fully it can be practiced in our eating habits. Firstly: anyone that is observing a yogic lifestyle should be a vegetarian. Period. Supporting the unethical and inhumane treatment of factory farmed animals is clearly opposed to the concept of Ahimsa. If you're going to eat meat, it needs to be farm-raised and organic. That goes for eggs too. Not only for the sake of the animal that is being sacrificed, but for your own sake. Eating unhealthy food — whether it is over processed, sugary, full of saturated fats or hormones — is doing harm to your body.

So, secondarily, we must fuel our body in the cleanest, healthiest way possible. This means eating a simple diet of whole grains, root vegetables and cruciferous greens, moderate amounts of nuts, legumes and fruit, lots of water, minimal sugar and spices and that's pretty much it. Of course, adding other things like coffee and ahem, chocolate (only 70% cacao and up of course) can be done without throwing the whole works out of balance, but it must be done mindfully and in moderation.

It's been really amazing to observe what happened when I really started eating mindfully. I found that I stopped craving things like sugar and salt, and started craving things like kale and raw brussel sprouts. The more I get in tune with my body, the more I'm aware that it's always telling me what I need. Part of eating mindfully is listening to your body — not just eating the same thing for breakfast every day, but observing what it is your body needs at that given moment. Sometimes you won't need breakfast. You might just need a couple glasses of water and lemon juice and maybe a banana.

I feel like getting in the habit of eating the same thing every day — even if it's a healthy thing — is a bad idea. Not only because the body probably benefits from more variety but because it seems to zombify a part of my brain and takes me away from living in the moment. If I'm eating something today just because I ate it yesterday and it tasted good and healthy then, I'm not being present and aware of what my body needs today. And that, to me, is a little bit soul deadening.

David Garrigues has a bunch of great videos on his website, but this 3-part series on Ashtanga and Diet is especially pertinent here. I hope you find it as affirming and inspiring as I do. See you at the market!



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