Posts Tagged ‘eating’
What is a yogi, anyway? It is someone who has committed to following a path which leads them to a realization of their spiritual nature.
Okay then—what is this spiritual nature? Well, there are certain things we can say about it. First, it is always there even when we can’t notice it. We get caught up in our mind’s wanderings but that doesn’t change the fact that it exists.
Second, our nature is inherently peaceful. We know this because we have felt it. That moment when you are looking at the sky or ocean or (you fill in the blank) and everything is okay.
Third, it connects us to the world around us. As we feel or recognize this in ourselves, we also see it in the people and things around us. We feel less alone and more at home in the world.
So, what does this have to do with the way we eat? Plenty. As a yogi, we want our practice to extend throughout our day. Eating is part of our day. How and what we eat can directly affect our ability to feel our connection to ourselves and the world around us.
As we shift into eating foods that give us more sustained energy and promote peaceful mental states, the experience of peace is more readily obtained. As we get used to slowing down and taking a few breaths before we eat, we find ourselves able to enjoy the nourishment process. This pleasure from eating allows us to fully integrate the eating process into our spiritual path.
It’s August – it’s hot. Our bodies naturally experience shifts in appetite with the heat. It is common to feel less hungry during the hotter hours of the day. The issue is that we then get really hungry later in the day. Our systems are thrown off and we eat too much, or foods that don’t serve as well. If this becomes a cycle, we find ourselves in a starve/binge pattern that throws off our whole practice.
Often, the solution is to eat easy cooling foods during the day. Fruit and yogurt, salads with seeds or nuts, cold rice or noodle dishes (easy on the heavy sauce) come to mind. Also, I can’t stress enough the importance of breakfast during this time. It will start your digestive system moving and allow you to be hungry for lunch.
The other part of the equation is to eat a reasonable dinner. Overeating in the hot weather makes us even hotter. So keeping dinner in check will keep you cool and allow you to stay with your practice of eating to feel good and maintain your energy. often in the summer I’ll have two snacks at 4pm and 8pm instead of dinner. This helps me to not be hungry and control my desire to overeat when the sun goes down. And, of course, don’t forget to practice. : )
As always, email with questions and concerns.
Yogic emotions are energy. Our system is designed to let these emotions flow through our bodies. When we do this, we have a complete experience of these emotions and then the energy returns to its source and we feel at peace.
Of course, we have another possibility—we can suppress, block, or redirect our emotional energy. When we do this, the energy is not able to flow freely and gets “stuck” somewhere in our body. This creates stress in our system. When we do this regularly, we end up with a constant level of stress and anxiety. The emotions keep getting built up in our system with nowhere to go.
The most common way to suppress these emotions is through food. When intense emotions arise, many of us have the habit of eating to calm them. We actually believe it works because in the short term the intensity is dulled. We are, however, only contributing to the buildup of anxiety in the system. As we repeat this behavior, the anxiety we experience grows.
We need to have two experiences to change this pattern. First, we need to get used to feeling energy course through our bodies. Our physical practice gives us a place to do this. As we get used to this feeling, we begin to see it as normal and we find that we do not need to react when energy moves in our system.
Second, we need to have repeated experiences of strong emotions coming up and then subsiding without long-term damage. I’ve found diaphragmatic breathing, particularly while lying down, a good way to keep the system calm while turbulent emotional and physical states are happening.
As we experience difficult emotions fully, and prove to ourselves we are okay if we let them come, we are less compelled to stop them with food. And as we allow emotions to release themselves, our overall stress and anxiety levels are diminished. From this more peaceful state, we can see our full range of experiences and states clearly. And as our vision widens, we are more connected to that part of ourselves which is happy, clear, balanced, and at peace.
One of the most common questions I get asked at my seminars is how to stop binging behavior. Often we binge eat to repress unwanted emotions. I commonly hear fear and loneliness being cited as reasons for binging. I also see that it is comforting for many people. I would like to offer my perspective on this complex problem with which many of us are dealing.
Binge eating to supress emotion is habit-forming. So you may be suppressing emotions which are currently being generated. You may also be in the habit of suppressing these emotions with food, even though the emotions themselves have resolved. It is important to stay open to this possibility. We must always be ready to be done with our problems, or we will always be living with them. Either way, we are addicted to the state of deadened feeling. Our practice is to open ourselves up and enhance our awareness. We then get addicted to this open, aware state and it gradually overtakes our need for deadened states.
‘Gradually’ is a key concept here. If we force ourselves to stop binging right away, it is possible those emotions will come up and release before we are ready. The uncomfortable feeling this produces can send us right back into binging behavior—possible more intense than before. We must first establish our practice of enhancing awareness in a safe way so that we can get used to idea and feeling of being aware. As we realize that it is actually liberating to live in fuller awareness, the need to suppress emotion diminishes naturally.
So we practice yoga asana with awareness on the breath first. We sync breath and movement to allow ourselves to feel prana (energy) move in our body. As we get used to this feeling, it becomes uncomfortable to block this feeling with food.
We also spend time doing deep relaxation to keep our nervous system in check. This helps us stay in a state of receptivity and awareness, and away from fear-based responses.
Finally we practice meditation. This allows us to separate from reacting so much to thoughts and emotions.
Once these practices are firmly established, then we may work on curbing our binges. When these practices are in place, we are able to see clearly if we are ready to stop. Often we are. But, as always, we take a slow, compassionate path with ourselves. We allow our natural awareness to shine first and help us wash away the behaviors that are not serving us.
As always please email me with any thoughts or questions
Loka Samastha Sukino Bhavantu
May all beings be free and happy
This holiday season, love yourself. Be kind to yourself. And then let that love spread to others.
Yogic philosophy goes something like this: The self is everywhere—it is everything. As we nourish one piece, the others receive nourishment. When we are kind to our bodies by doing our asana practice, we are able to be more peaceful in our interactions with others. So, one way to be kind to others is to do your asana every morning. Then you and others are both helped.
Another way to spread peace is to nourish ourselves with foods that make us feel energetic and contented. From this calm, energized place we can be peaceful and be useful to our friends, family, and community. As we do this, the people around us are possibly also inspired to do the same—it’s catching. Then people everywhere are producing peace around themselves and, before you know it, it’s coming back to you.
Yoga practice continually asks us to find a way to be kind to ourselves. It’s “self centered”. As we continue to expand our view of the self, we find more and more ways to be kind, useful and helpful. We take care of our body, mind, and spirit. From that place, we help others do the same. When we do something like give to charity, we see that it is just another way to be kind to ourselves. There is no distinction, really, between eating appropriately, moving and breathing, and helping others. These are all ways of being kind to yourself.
All are useful and produce peace.
What I’m suggesting, then, is that we all try to do these things as part of our peaceful weight loss practice for the holidays. Practice our yoga in a calm, easeful, stress-reducing way. Eat in a way that helps us maintain that peaceful feeling we have produced. From there, let others enjoy the benefits of our practice by spending time with people we love. If we can, find a way to give a little extra to those in need. If we do this with the perspective that all these people are extensions of ourselves, it will produce tangible, positive, peaceful feelings within us. What more could we ask for?
May we all experience peace and nourishment this holiday season.
Loka Samista Sukino Bhavantu
May the entire world be filled with peace, love, and light.
As humans, we have an instinct to react against any restriction on our freedom. If you tie your arms behind your back, you will struggle to find a way out. So why should you expect your mind to be different? I’m not eating sweets – I won’t eat too much – no sugar for me – I’m not eating that kind of food right now. This type of language ties your mind’s hands. When we language our eating “rules” like this, we react, struggle, and create stress.
When we fill our home with an abundance of whole foods, we free ourselves. We can look in the refrigerator and say – I can eat anything I want. We set up new language of abundance for our mind. This reduces negative internal chatter in general and allows our thoughts to be more sattvic (peaceful). This peace then moves into our body and allows us to feel calm and energized. It is from this state of being that true and lasting change happens.
So commit yourself to abundance, and stock your kitchen with a ridiculous amount of delicious whol (ish) foods.
Let yourself enjoy and be comforted by this newfound wealth. Be rid of the foods that are causing you to stuggle. Most importantly allow yourself to have fun eating again
Give evil nothing to oppose and it will disappear by itself.
—Tao Te Ching
“If I eat less, I will be thinner.”
“I need to eat more vegetables.”
“I need to eat more healthy.”
“I must stop bingeing.”
These active thoughts give rise to their opposites. As we try to take action and change our behavior, we often find it has the opposite effect. It’s amazing how many of us feel ourselves bingeing after a day of “healthy eating.”
Just because the thought “If I eat less I’ll be thinner” has truth in it doesn’t mean cultivating that thought is your solution. Thoughts like these will generate their opposites. Our mental action needs to be less active and more contemplative.
I am noticing breathing in—I am noticing breathing out—it’s a nice way to start noticing our breath. It allows our thoughts to move with less restriction so that they may arise then disappear in a timely fashion. Focusing down on them only makes them (and their opposites) more powerful.
You have already set your intention to lose weight and live in a way that makes sense to you. Once that intention has entered your mind, no more needs to be done. Your job is now to allow your thoughts to do what they need to and to not add to the mix. Don’t generate anything extra for your mind to react to. Then unneeded behaviors will disappear by themselves.
I had the good fortune to take a yoga class with a fantastic teacher recently. He suggested that our asana practice was there not to change us, but to make us more comfortable with ourselves. To help our minds accept our present situation and relax into it. From this place, things do happen – things do change – maybe not as fast as we wish they would, but they do.
So I pose this question to you: Are you practicing in a way that will allow change to happen TO you, or are you struggling to make change happen? Are you finding a way to move and breathe in the morning as a simple expression of being an alive human being in a body? Or are you demanding that exercise be struggle? Bottom line – are you in your own way?
If the answer is yes – you are not alone. We all get in our own way – our silly minds are always involved in the mischief of making our lives harder. As we become more aware of it, however, this behavior lessens, and a feeling of ease and contentment moves to the foreground.
A daily yoga practice with this in mind is key to letting this happen for you. Having a time during your day when you move, breathe, and accept yourself is a perfect way to slow the mischievous mind down. We see immediate shifts in our consciousness, as evidenced by a general sense of well-being – an ability to physically move more easily – a lessening of urgency in all things, including eating.
Next time you step to your yoga mat, allow yourself to relax into your practice – notice when you are mentally in your own way – and laugh at yourself, knowing that is your only obstacle today!
Need help adjusting your practice? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
May we all be happy, relaxed, free, and in love.
As human beings with brains, we have the tendency to be reductionist. “This chocolate will make me fat” or “I ate too much today—I’m going to gain weight” or “Carbs go right to my thighs.”
While pinpointing individual aspects of our behavior can sometimes be useful, stepping back and looking at the bigger picture is more likely to yield an “Aha!” moment.
Yoga practice encourages us to back away from these reductionist thoughts and relax our mind—from this place wisdom emerges, showing us our larger patterns of disharmony, so that we may allow them to correct themselves.
The practice of regular asana with relaxed full breathing creates a shift in consciousness. A mental spaciousness is allowed—these larger patterns begin to become obvious.
Obsessing on what not to eat gives way to holistic insights? Possibly—you realize the real issue is that you don’t give yourself enough time to sleep—you’re always tired. Or the oatmeal you’ve been eating every day for breakfast just doesn’t keep you full throughout the morning. Or your job drives you crazy and all your weight issue stem from there.
So participate fully in your daily practice and allow yourself to “step back” from your scattered thoughts. From this place insight will occur naturally—and change wil soon follow.
May we all be nourished so that we may nourish others.
My clients and I keep coming to the same conclusion: If I eat mostly whole foods, I feel great and my weight finds itself a comfortable spot for me.
I am blessed to watch people experience this time and time again.
I also get to see another common occurrence: the silly mind sneaking in and saying, “It’s not that simple—it was really the exercise, vitamins, starvation, etc…”
Sometimes the mind does its nasty work by simply allowing us to forget simple truths. Sometimes it is protecting us from the pain of realizing that the trauma we have been putting ourselves through is so easily rectified.
So here it is. Allow yourself to be free of suffering from your diet. Today allow your eating to be part of your ongoing process of self-realization—today, nourish yourself. We allow our energy to rise, our minds to be clear, our bodies to be more easeful, by eating whole food. The only effort we need to apply is not to forget that eating is simple.
Don’t believe me—try it.