In the yoga tradition the relationship between food and eating is almost looked upon as something holy.
We are eating to live and to encourage life which involves a lot more than how many calories are in a meal or how many nutrients. Yoga would say that even things like how the food is prepared, how we eat it and the condition of our mind as we eat, has an effect on how the food is able to support us and our health.
A simple prayer for food
My grandmother used to always say a prayer out loud before every meal, it was something natural for her. It was a part of her upbringing as a child and a way of giving thanks. She lived on a farm in the North of Sweden during the beginning of the 18th century. In the same way yoga teaches us to acknowledge food with gratitude and happiness before eating, it also gives a humbling feeling that has a positive effect on digestion among other things. The feeling of gratitude comes from understanding the value of food and that the act that I’m about to take in is supporting my life.
The challenge of old habits
Consciousness around food and eating is a relationship that needs time to develop and manifest. It is actually like a yoga practice in itself. To be able to create a connection with the body and it’s reactions, awareness is needed. Also to make a change in life, a change that will maintain and become part of you, requires a great deal of awareness and the capacity to see the patterns of the personality. We easily hold on to old habits, something yoga would call “samskaras”, patterns that over a long time have created an imprint in our being. In the same way a car has a tendency to follow the deep, already made tracks in the road the mind follows its own “tracks” of habit and we act on impulses.
Let your food be your yoga
The practice of yoga and the practice of eating food goes hand in hand. Through the yoga we do on the mat, the level of awareness is slowly and gradually increased and we start to see and observe our own thoughts. If the same focus we develop toward ourselves as we move through our asana practice or when we meditate on our breath could be applied to the smelling or tasting of food, we would probably eliminate a great deal of problems related to indigestion, over eating and different cravings. The old Indian health system Ayurveda is telling us that eating food should be the same as a meditation. It is definitely worth a try.
Give yourself 10 extra minutes in the morning and let the joy of eating your bowl of oatmeal with apples and cinnamon be your yoga and a blessing!
Sara Granström Thorsson has been working as a yoga teacher in Stockholm since 2001. She has worked with Yogayama, Yoga Shala, Stockholm Dayspa, Omyoga and Sturebadet among other places.
She is an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher according to Yoga Alliance and teaches regularly at Yoga Thailand, Koh Samui as a part of their teacher training team. She is also Teacher Training Director at Yogayama in Stockholm.
As a nutrition therapist with a speciality in ayurveda, Sara is working with health related lectures, education and personal consultations.
The combination of good yoga and food is a very powerful tool towards better health, which makes it an interesting thing to investigate every day!
When Sara is not in Thailand or in Stockholm she might be spending time on the island of Gotland (Sweden) where she is one of the owners of Lila Shala, a cute ashtanga and hatha studio.