The Yoga of Eating
Today’s post will have nothing to do with being vegetarian or not (click here to read a past post by Nikki on that subject). In fact, though I definitely think it’s important to consider what you’re eating, today’s post is more about how you’re eating it.
Many of us first come to yoga through the physical practice of asana, but the broader eight-limbed system of yoga relates to everything we're doing off our mat--including eating. Recently, I realized I lacked mindfulness in that important area in my life.
This realization happened a few days ago while I was listening to an episode of Better Everyday, the women’s health and wellness podcast by my naturopath Dr. Brooke Kalanick and her colleague Sarah Fragoso. During this particular episode, guest Melissa Joulwan mentioned how important it is to eat mindfully—to stop and take a breath before eating, slow down between bites, take time to chew your food, and be appreciative of what you’re eating.
This wasn’t the first time I’d heard such advice, but this time, I was ready to really hear it. I am definitely guilty of rushed eating. It’s easy for me to get into “go-mode,” so whether I’m in an actual time crunch or not, it’s become a bad habit for me to eat hurriedly.
When you eat quickly, you don’t give your body the chance to shift into parasympathetic mode, the ‘relaxed’ state conducive to digestion. Ever feel bloated after your meal? I do. Sometimes this is a sign of the poor digestion that results from not taking a moment to RELAX before you start eating.
So, lately I’ve made it a point to take a long, deep breath before I consume. I chew more slowly, and stop to take a few conscious breaths between bites. I try to really taste and appreciate each morsel. Then I give myself at least a few moments after I’m finished to continue the relaxed state before moving to the next phase of my day. I’ve definitely noticed better digestion…not to mention it's just a much more enjoyable way to eat.
Since I’ve started doing this, I’ve realized this is yoga in action. Yoga is so much more than what we do on the mat. The eight limbs of yoga include how we move through the world; we are encouraged to practice mindfulness in all that we do, which includes mealtime!
So next time you’re in a rush to get your food down, remember the yoga of eating. Stop, take a breath, and do what you can to eat mindfully in a relaxed state. We are so very lucky if our meals are easy to come by. Many people on this planet aren’t as lucky. I can only imagine that when we use that awareness and appreciation towards each bite, we are generating a healthier state in both body and mind.
I hope this advice helps you as it has helped me :)
<3 and Namaste,