How Yoga Can Make You A Better Eater
We all know that the benefits of yoga are endless. Many practice yoga for exercise, stress reduction, general health and community.
But yoga isn't meant to exist only on the mat. One of the biggest benefits of yoga is that you can apply the things you learn, and the strength you build, to all aspects of your life. This certainly applies to eating habits.
Here are some ways to bring yoga to your plate.
One of the easiest ways to bring yoga to your plate is breathing. I suggest taking a deep breath before you even choose your meal! You would be surprised at how it will change your choices. Have you ever had been stared down by a cookie in a pastry case? It can feel like you'll be missing out all week and unhappy if you leave that cookie behind. Try taking three deep yoga breaths (ujayi) before you choose. It will also help your digestion if your nervous system is calmed before eating.
Often, at the beginning of class, the teacher will either set an intention or ask you to silently set one for yourself. I believe this practice is crucial to the diet. Before you cook or choose your dinner, silently set an intention for your meal. Most people shut off all conscious thought before eating. Simply turning the brain on makes a huge difference.
The subconscious intention might be:
- I want to fill up every inch of this empty space.
- I want to comfort myself.
- I want to make myself feel better.
A conscious intention would be:
- I want to feel energized.
- I want to heal myself.
- I want to give my body what it deserves.
Not only will an intention change your choices, it will subtly affect HOW you eat. You may notice yourself taking more time, chewing more thoroughly and savoring the flavors and textures more.
Everyone needs support and companionship, and yoga provides that. Taking yoga in a class setting forces you to follow someone else's pace, push yourself through uncomfortable moments, share gratitude and try things you never planned.
It's the same with food. Most of the choices that don't highlight our best selves are made in private. How many times have you gone out with friends for junky fast food? Or binged on a half a box of donuts in front of them? Community creates a space for us to make choices that are positive and holds us accountable.
When you eat with others, you're forced to slow down and eat at the same pace as your friends. If you're surrounded by people who have your best interest at heart and make you happy, your choices automatically improve. Best of all, eating with others allows you to turn the act of eating into a memorable experience. You may get to try a new food or share memories of an old favorite dish, and you always have the chance to share joy and gratitude.
When we're emotionally calm, stable and full, it’s much easier to make choices that show our bodies love and respect. That's the gift that yoga brings us. So make the most out of your practice, and apply it to your next meal!