Traditionally, yoga was never intended to be a purely physical pursuit. Instead, with the birth of yoga, came the opportunity for inspired personal growth, and spiritual development. However, just the way our vision becomes blurred when sweat is dripping in our eyes, so too, can we lose sight of what brought us to yoga in the first place. Today, I just want to talk to you about mindfulness, and about how we can practice it both on our mat, and in our kitchens. :) We all do it from time to time. We eat fast. We eat while watching TV, returning e-mails, sending a text message. We eat on the run, in our cars perhaps, or while walking. We eat without even tasting what it is we are eating! Some people, in fact, eat this way all the time and as a result, they’ve completely disconnected from both what they are putting in their body and how it affects their mind-body-spirit. Similarly, in yoga, it’s easy to get lost in what’s happening outside of ourselves. We can escape into the words the teacher is speaking, we can allow ourselves to be distracted or entertained by what is happening with our neighbor, we can become overwhelmed by the seemingly torturous conditions of the room we’re in, etc. We need to stay present. We need to truly connect with our breath, with our emotions, even with our thoughts; notice them without reacting; they are there so that you can grow!
Celebrate them, embrace them, but please, don’t disconnect. When we feed our bodies, as in our yoga practice, we need to concentrate on the experience we are having. Eat slowly, chew and truly taste your food. What’s the rush, it’s not as though your sandwich is going to leap off your plate! Ha! BE mindful. There is a saying that I have always loved, that I often reflect to my clients, “chew your juice, drink your food” (your food then, is best when it’s almost liquid in consistency, before you swallow). Chewing your food releases enzymes that are necessary for both the proper digestion and assimilation of nutrients. In addition, eating when stressed / in a hurry, has also been correlated with improper nutrient absorption. Sometimes people experience digestive disturbances due to food allergies, bacteria imbalance, enzyme deficiencies, etc, but sometimes indigestion, gas and even symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can all be helped by simply SLOWING down. Express gratitude for your food, eat from a plate (not a box), chew (don’t just shovel and swallow), and eat slowly (actually taste what it is you are eating!). As you start to become more mindful, my hope for you is that you will also start to become more aware of how different foods make you feel. Then, you will naturally start to make healthier choices. Notice: Do I feel differently when I eat a meal that I prepared / cooked, versus one that I ate from a bag / box? Notice: Do I feel differently after I’ve eaten in the car versus when I have eaten at home, in a relaxed setting, while in the company of someone I love? Whether on your mat, or in your kitchen, be mindful: notice, observe, become aware, grow. I want to close this post by sharing a verse from one of my all time favorite poems, as it feels very relevant to today’s discussion ... “Be strong then, and enter into your own body; there you have a solid place for your feet. Think about it carefully! Don’t go off somewhere else!
Kabir says this: just throw away all thoughts of imaginary things, and stand firm in that which you are.”