Yoga = Counting Calories?! ~ Sarah Dakhili

Via on Dec 12, 2010

I recently commented on the EJ post Eat/Drink “x”, you have to do “y” hours of Yoga to work it off.

The post itself didn’t have much writing, but the picture (via Daily Beast) alone said a lot:

So I couldn’t resist! My mind kept saying “Oh no! Please don’t do this to Yoga!” I had to comment. I felt compelled to share my understanding about what Yoga actually is all about.

In America there appears to be a tendency to live in “extremes.” Now, our world is filled with paradoxes no matter where we are or which country we reside in. Still, I cannot help but stand up for Yoga. I am sure that most of you can resonate that whenever we humans feel passionately about something, the majority of us commonly grow a tendency to defend its beauty and guard its shield.

In the last year, the practice of Yoga has brought so much to my life. While the journey of my “awakening/inner awareness” started long before my Yoga asana (pose) practice, I do feel that yoga has brought a great deal into my life. I have grown great respect for this ancient tradition. I acknowledge that for many it may solely be nothing more than a form of physical exercise and I do also realize that our understanding and usage of it is different for all of us. I am by no means suggesting that we all “should” look at it from the same angle and the reality of the matter is that we don’t and we never will. In a way that’s the beauty of it all. That we gain an amazingly insightful awareness that comes with ongoing practice. Whether it is that we become better aware of our breath, pelvic floor muscle and other Yoga bandhas:

On the mat is where I have been learning to recognize my inner self (the one beyond my body, mind and ego or any daily “roles” that I play) and to face it all (flaw and all)…

On the mat is where the opportunity arises for me to truly feel my emotions… It is where I get to sit with them, become aware of them, learn from them and in a way also deal with them…

On the mat is where I get challenged not just to remain in a pose, but to also remain within my breath, all whilst being challenged by the ongoing chatter and mind “farting” (as one of my dear Yogi friends calls it)…

On the mat is where I feel I get the opportunity to practice letting go… letting go of “myself” or the self that I was raised to aspire and hold on to… the self that society encourages me to be… and the self that is not truly who I am within but rather a false impression that commonly takes a life time to “undress”…

On the mat is where I gain insight into my impatience with accepting where my body is at (i.e. where I am in my life and my now)… my “need” for being in control, my “need” for recognition and my “need” for comparing myself with others…

As the saying goes “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Seeing a picture of a McDonald’s meal equaling to how many hours of Yoga we may need in order to “get rid of” the meal saddens me. Why do we have to get rid of anything that is meant to be a form of “nourishment” and “enjoyment?” This is how McDonald’s meals seem to be portrayed anyway (paradoxical world indeed!). And if it is not a form of enjoyment and nourishment then why do we choose to eat it anyway? For me it comes down to the question of awareness and balance. I often wonder why we are not encouraged and better informed about having more balance in our lives?! I am not talking about “miss-information” that in today’s world is also called “education” but rather about enjoying food that is good for our body that fuels and nourishes our body and gives it energy and life. Why aren’t we more encouraged and “educated” about doing the things that bring us joy and happiness and not necessarily to “get rid of” anything? Yes indulgence can be fun and there is nothing wrong with incorporating it into our lives. If appreciated in balance and consciously, we won’t have to get rid of anything but rather enjoy it. After all why else would it be called indulgence?! I believe that it is only when we are encouraged to find this awareness and inner balance that we no longer create nor contribute towards social epidemics such as obesity, eating disorders, disordered eating and immense body image issues. When we stop using food or exercise (or anything else for that matter) to shut down, shut out or shut up our “true self” and any emotions that may come up for us, we will end up feeling more alive, more powerful and more real…

This is what I feel Yoga has introduced into my life and why I am passionately standing up for it and hopefully providing another “educated” angle to it than simply Eat/Drink “x”, you have to do “y” hours of Yoga to work it off…

FYI – I like using apostrophes (for words that I find “ironic” or “loaded” – have various meanings to various people), dots and question- and exclamation marks. Hopefully you won’t be put off by reading my post anyway?!

Sarah Dakhili is a native of Sweden—with a Persian background—and a social worker living in Australia. She takes great pleasure in yoga and plans to start a teacher training soon. Her other passions are Latin dancing and writing. You can read some of her writing at her blog.

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6 Responses to “Yoga = Counting Calories?! ~ Sarah Dakhili”

  1. Anthony B says:

    Inspirational and enlightenning article. Thanks

  2. AMO says:

    The apostrophe thing can sound sarcastic sometimes. I struggle with it as a writer myself. I know what it means to me but others can add meaning I didn't intend. When I have the graphic ability I use italics instead, it's less offensive to some people. Great read…

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you AMO. I welcome and appreciate your feedback. I agree with what you have written and realised this after some days. I have now started using italics. It's wonderful isn't it – this process of ongoing learning and growing :)

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