Can I Stand on my Head and eat Steak?


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It’s a common question in a yoga class. Why do I have to give up eating meat if I want to practice yoga? There is one simple response to that.

There are ethical guidelines to yoga called yamas. The five yamas are; ahimsa (non harming), satya (truth), asteya (non-stealing), brahmacharya (sexual responsibility) and aparigraha (non greed).  In order to live a yogi lifestyle it is a good idea to practice following these guidelines.  Being a vegetarian/vegan fits each of these yamas. 

By not eating animal meat or any other product they produce, you are reducing your harm on other beings.  You are also seeing and admitting the truth as to where our food comes from.  When we eat the meat, eggs or milk from an animal, we are stealing from them and not respecting their bodies.  All of this is done out of our own greed! Human beings do not need to eat animals, this is a choice. Choosing to eat meat for your satisfaction only supports the terrible conditions and tortures that the animals must go through to get to our plate. A non-vegan diets go against the ethical guidelines of the yoga practice. 

Yoga means the union with all beings, not just humans.  A yogi wants all beings to be free and happy. If you eat animals, then you are not allowing them to be free or happy. Plain and simple! 

   Patanjali YS 2.25  Ahimsa Pratishthayam Tat Vaira-Tyagah

“If you want to be free of harm, then you must stop harming others”

Animals were not put on this earth for humans to enslave them and eat them. They are living, breathing, feeling, and loving beings just like us. Causing them harm by killing them or enslaving them for our satisfaction is against the direct teachings of yoga. If you want to be happy, then we should not cause others unhappiness.

Patanjali YS 2.46 Sthira Sukham Asanam

“Our connection to the Earth must be steady and joyful and mutually beneficial”

 Eating meat can makes a yoga practice difficult in the physical form as well for one reason; Meat is not good for you! We all know it and we all deny it. If it were so healthy, then cardiac patients would not be told to stop eating meat or you die. People go on vegan detox to clean their systems. Why? Because meat clogs the body. It takes, on average, three days to digest animal products.  That dead animal is decaying in your body for three days! Eating another beings cholesterol and fat is not something our body needs to run on.  Our bodies are meant to eat grains and greens.  All the nutrients that the body needs are found in these items. 

Twisting and bending in a yoga class becomes difficult when your body is filled with animal products. Inversions, like headstand, are more difficult.  After all, how light do you feel after eating a big steak?  If you want to move forward with your yoga practice and studies, you must consider a vegetarian or vegan diet! This will help your mind, body and yoga practice!

Lokah Samasta Sukhino Bhavantu



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Mary Holland

Mary Holland is a Vegan, a yogi, lover of life and new found blogger. She discusses everything from freedom for all beings, vegan recipes and yoga. Check her blog out at Changing The World, One Veggie at a Time.


13 Responses to “Can I Stand on my Head and eat Steak?”

  1. Michelle says:

    i love this article! i get so mad when people claim to practice yoga and then bite into a hamburger (although my anger is not very yogi of me either).

  2. peter heppner says:

    Thank you Mary for reminding us of this. When you consider how many references there are to vegetarianism throughout yoga literature, as compared to the few verses devoted to asana in the yoga sutras, it seems impossible to claim you are practicing yoga if you are not at least trying to give up meat.

    • Mary Holland says:

      Definately Peter! I like how you said "at least trying to give up meat"! You nailed it..Yoga is a practice and giving up meat or not harming others is a practice too. If you are interested in yoga, you have to practice!

  3. […] “commandments” in the yogic tradition do in fact address diet. Read about them here! *Your favorite “sugar-free” products may be deceptively named: new studies show that […]

  4. Randall Smith says:

    Thanks for sharing! I certainly feel much better when I eat a balanced diet that doesn't inlcude meat. Having been raised an omnivore, I am constantly tempted and sometimes fall off the "wagon", but there's never been a time when I have not climbed back on. Thanks so much for the reminder of why it is the correct path.

  5. K Sequoia says:

    Gee, where does leave those of us who are ill when we don't have animal proteins and fats in our diet? Or the consistent proof that animal proteins and fats are indeed, necessary for many humans in order to be healthy (particularly ones with blood sugar issues, diabetes, etc)?

    I feel that animals need to be respected and treated with reverence. This means acknowledging that we are also animals, and in a mutual relationship with nature. Respect and reverence also means not romanticizing nature or our place in it. This is what, in my humble opinion, contributes to much of the abuse of animals. We remove ourselves from the cycle of life and death, and then develop grand and odd ideas about reality in the cycle we have now disrupted. We eradicate natural habits of animals so that we can live as we desire, including massive fields of agriculture!, then we scream foul when the natural ecosystem of animals is thrown out of balance, causing infestation and a need for culling – a cycle that we created (if you don't know what I speak of, that's half the problem).

    How do we know, in our arrogance and ignorance, that there aren't animals who give their lives to us as an act of compassion? I'm not saying I even believe this, but that I consider it. You make some sweeping assumptions in this article, that simply don't apply across the board for all.

    May all beings be happy, healthy, and experience compassion and beauty in this world – the four legged, the two legged, the fin and feathered.

    K Sequoia
    (who realizes this means I'm not on your Christmas list.)

    • Mary says:

      Beautiful! You are not off my Christmas list 🙂

    • Diane says:

      The latest research actually shows that a low-fat vegan diet is the best for reversing Type 2 Diabetes, better even than a low-carb/low-sugar diet. My 75-year old dad, the most pragmatic, scientific-minded, conservative skeptic I know did his own research after developing diabetes. After trying a vegan diet for a month or so, he saw his health improve exponentially. He was able to decrease his medications, lost a ton of weight, and his blood sugar levels no longer are in the diabetic range. He's now been a committed vegan for nearly 2 years. He also has more energy and mental alertness than I've seen in a very long while. As I understand it, the theory is that animal fats impede the absorption of insulin somehow? I think the books my dad read were by a Dr. Neal Barnard.

      I'm not a pro-veg person, necessarily – I eat meat on occasion. Just thought I should help set the record straight in regards to diabetics needing animal proteins and fat.

  6. Daniel says:

    I have a question. What does Buddhism have to do with yoga?

    I don't mean that I don't understand the historical significance of the two. But in today's world wherein I can learn yoga from a DVD that has no teachings other than the poses why do I need to be a Buddhist?

    When I look at yoga it is an addition to other parts of my life. I enjoy it, it expands me, it is an excellent form of physical fitness but meditation is not necessarily required. Every religion provides for meditation be it Christian, Muslim, Buddhism, Hinduism, Tao-ism or otherwise so why do I need to add it to my workout.

    You see, it is not a religious thing to me. I don't want to be holier than thou. I just want to practice it for its benefits in the privacy of my own home. And if I eat meat so what. I am sure you do things I don't approve of (like preach). I see many people attaching beliefs to the physical practice. It happens when a culture develops something that is truly valuable, which I think yoga is. As yoga evolves it will change. It will become less associated with its creator and more associated with its own evolution. I am amazed at all the strings that people have attached to the practice.

  7. Mary says:

    Yoga is not a religion. You do not have to be Buddhist to practice yoga. These are ancient YOGA teachings, not Buddhism. I believe in choice, however if you choose to be a YOGI and study and practice Yoga, then a vegetarian diet is a must!

  8. Michel Kamke says:

    Chemical engineers make things to ensure the most economical operation. This means that the entire production chain should be planned and regulated for costs. A chemical engineer can both simplify and complicate showcase effects for an economic advantage. Utilizing a higher pressure or temperature makes several reactions easier; ammonia, for example, is simply produced from the making up elements in a high-pressure reactor. Otherwise, reactions with a low yield can be recycled continuously, which would be complex, arduous work if done manually in the laboratory. It isn't unusual to build six step or even 12-step evaporators to reuse the vaporizing energy for an economic benefit. In contrast, laboratory chemists evaporate things in just one step. Adventurism

  9. […] gets our attention like suddenly being confronted by the unexpected. Whether misjudging a headstand and tumbling to the floor, or getting fired out of the blue, we find ourselves in a surprising new […]

  10. Darius says:

    Is that even possible? I think not, but it would be cool to find out. Maybe if they made bite sized australian ham.

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