Food has always been a major part of my life but never more so than since I’ve been regularly practising Yoga. Although food & diet might not immediately spring to mind when thinking of yoga, it has had been a key part in my own yoga tale.
Most yoga texts and teachers will make at least some reference to the importance of diet in practice but there tends not to be a hard or fast rule or “Yogi diet”. While vegetarian or veganism is often adopted by more serious practitioners, it’s not always clear why this should be a part of our practice (other than Ahimsa, see below).
One thing is for sure though – my yoga, and more specifically Ashtanga, practice has been the single biggest contributor to the food & drink related lifestyle changes that I’ve made over recent years.
So as a tee-total, meat & dairy free Yogi how do diet and practice influence each other?
Firstly, the most commonly referenced reason for dietary choices in yoga – Ahimsa – non violence. For many, including me, the ethical treatment of animals in the food & dairy industry is a huge decider in my own dietary choices and this fits perfectly with the very first limb of yoga. I choose to avoid any chance of violence against animals through my dietary choices (for unless I kill my own meat or milk my own cow, I can never truly know the conditions Or treatment of animals in this industry) but also as an effort of self-kindness to myself (non violence) through healthier eating habits in general. My personal opinion is that I can make better food choices through a more plant based platter, that in the long run, will reflect kindness and compassion for animals and my own self. This certainly reads true for my choices to go tee-total too; for me, that is a clear and easy choice to increase my own personal well being.
Secondly, the practicalities of practice. Any Ashtangi will have memories of a practice taken the morning after a massive evening meal… it just ain’t practical! The diet I follow now (which, please be aware still includes all things cake related!) eliminates those midnight meat sweats or an unnecessary 10pm cheese board… It’s a little harder to regular over eat on a plant based diet!
Now’s a good time to state that I am not meaning to preach! My own cheese addicted wine guzzling former self would have LAUGHED in my face at this reflection on tee-total veggie diet. I simply want to show how and why these lifestyle choices have been influenced by, and an influence on, my yoga practice.
Finally, the world of Yoga has introduced me to its sister science, Ayurveda, and this beautiful study of balance in diet and lifestyle has been huge in my own life. Embarking on quarterly Ayurvedic consultations has cultivated a meditation and a practice in itself. Ayurveda perfectly bridges my yoga practice with my daily routine and dietary choices so that each can perfectly complement the other. But this is a subject for another blog!