The Yoga Diet. ~ Dani McGuire

Via elephant journal
on Jun 22, 2012
get elephant's newsletter

I’ve seen many fad diets over the past 20 years.

I picked up my first book on health, Fit for Life, at the age of 16.

Since then, I’ve tried food combining and eating for my blood type. I’ve labeled myself as: fruitarian, macrobiotic, paleolithic, raw foodie, vegan, omnivore, vegetarian, gluten-free and gluten and casein-free. It may come as no surprise that while I experimented within this constellation of food regimes, I also suffered with an eating disorder and an unhealthy sense of self-esteem.

There are as many different diets out there as there are religions. In a way, our diet is like a religion. There is always the new list of 10 things you don’t do to be “healthy” or “good.” Popular diets and beliefs take over the consumer market.

Gluten is the newest evil in the religion of health.

Companies catch on quickly and line the shelves with products catering to our newest set of beliefs. If we ingest gluten we may not go to hell, but we’ll feel like it; if we eat super foods, we’ll feel super human.

On a recent trip to Whole Foods, I happened to be in an aisle with a woman who was new to the gluten-free diet. There were three employees opening different packages of gluten-free cookies and letting us sample them. Of course I tried every one they offered—it was free (I love Whole Foods samples)! I left the store with a sugar hangover. Was it really a good idea to eat sugar-filled, refined foods just because the gluten-free industry found a way, in some instances, to make them taste even better than the real deal?

I started to wonder what I was being fed and if the information was true for me.

During my years of practicing yoga, I stumbled across the study of Ayurveda, a sister science to yoga that teaches us how to live life. Ayurveda told me exactly what I wanted to hear. In a moment the pendulum was swinging from, “There is only one way to be radiantly healthy,” to “I am not putting myself in a box!”—like the way the Catholic school girl trades her skirt for a pair of leather pants to follow the band.

I no longer believed there could be just one way to eat for the complexity of our human bodies. Ayurveda told me that it was O.K. to eat meat if I needed some grounding, something the sister science of yoga and other philosophies have said “No,” to. It explained why I craved eating raw foods during the summer months. It told me there is not going to be one diet for every body, or even one way for your body, your whole life, or even this year.

Now, I am a consumer and practitioner of the science of Ayurveda.

Still, it is my yoga practice that has given me the most insight into myself and the world; it’s healed the struggles I had in my early 20s with an eating disorder.

Yoga has taught me to not be a consumer of fads and ever-changing diets and beliefs, but rather to believe in myself. To not be a vegan because I thought it was the right and only way. To feel how it resonates with me to eat foods that are offering their life to me. To see how picking food from the vine helps plants grow more fruit, verses hunting foods that are not as willing to give their lives. To experience the moment, sensations, and mostly my relationship with food and the earth. To approach the ritual of nourishment with presence and mindfulness.

Yoga has taught me to keep my body like a smooth running machine so that if I eat a little gluten or dairy, I still feel good. If I eat too many cookies in the Whole Foods gluten-free aisle, I don’t feel like I have to run 10 miles to burn them off.

How is your relationship with food?

What is happening on the mental and emotional levels?

Are you feeling integrated and deeply connected with yourself?

This is my diet of yoga. I am full and happy and no longer looking for anything outside of myself. In the words of my teacher David Frawley, “The consumer is consumed.”


Dani McGuire is a yoga teacher, business owner, yoga therapist, and asana addict that loves Love, Life, Family, Food, God, and, of course, Yoga. “Since I am unable to quiet the mental chatter and control thirst for earthly pleasures I live, write, and laugh and my human-ness.” Dani leads yoga workshops and teacher trainings, and takes her yoga off the mat through Pranayoga Foundation, a nonprofit teaching yoga to people with cancer and chronic illness. For more about Dani check out her personal website or PranaYoga.



Editor: Jessica DeLoy


Like elephant yoga on Facebook


About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter. Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive—and get your name/business/fave non-profit on every page of Questions? Send to [email protected]


8 Responses to “The Yoga Diet. ~ Dani McGuire”

  1. Micaela says:

    Definitely needed to read this. Your words totally resonated with me, and I definitely found direction within myself after reading this. Thank you so much.

  2. shirly says:

    Dear Dani, I shared almost similar experiences with you – changing from one diet to another, went from one extreme to another – all in the name of good health. However recently I found myself questions about my relationship with food – am I taking in the nutrients, am I eating out of boredom, frustration etc. Personally I find the word diet is overrated. I am learning to eat for good health, at the same time I also realised it is just as important to keep our mental wellbeing in check, otherwise even the superfood can be poison! Thanks again for sharing!

  3. Cindy says:

    Brilliant. Geneen Roth is my hero in the food addiction/healing tribe. She helps me recognize the crazies that creep into my thoughts regarding food. I’m practicing mindful self love and mindful eating….and my body is finally relaxing and releasing fat. I desire to live at peace with ALL food, to not fear anything outside myself, and to be fiercely on my own side no matter what 🙂

  4. Old yoga chick says:

    Well said. We are all unique and changing each day. Truly listening to our bodies and inner wisdom and not responding to external messages of right and wrong is essential but so difficult. It is sad that a new word was coined "orthorexia" for people who adhere to overly strict diets limiting many foods based on ideas of what is healthy. True health comes from connection with our selves and our food on the viseral level not by mental or emotional contructs.

  5. […] been on it for a good time and the yoga diet makes me feel super human! This article, from the Elephant Journal, shares the same […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.