Some of you may still do this, but remember when most
people gave thanks, prayed, or said grace at the table? We can still be thankful to our family members or their company, the cook for his or her skill, to those who brought the food home, and to God, or your concept of a higher being, for your existence.
Meals should be for nutrition, bonding, and thanks. Meals should not be “wolfed down,” while watching television or while driving in the car.
One of the aspects of Yoga, which is covered in a typical Yoga class, is that of mindfulness in every part of life. You become more conscious of your breathing, posture, speech, what you eat, and much more. Through steady Yoga practice, you learn to live life in the present moment and to appreciate what you have.
Some of us are rich in love, but have little money. Some of us are rich with money and have no one who really loves us. When you look at love or money both can be turned into good or bad situations. It is really up to us, whether we want to make the most of what we have.
Making the most out of simple pleasures is living life to its fullest potential. So, instead of “shoveling” your food away, Yoga students should take the time to enjoy the finer things in life. This is not to say that we should engage in gluttony, but instead to connect with your inner being at mealtime and be mindful of everything. Eat with your family, when possible, and make it a pleasant experience, together, at the kitchen table.
Your inner self or self is sometimes called “atman”
or “jiva.” This is the “creature” imprisoned within all of us. We all enjoy eating and want to savor every earthly pleasure to its fullest, but mindfulness makes us aware of much more than consumption of food and earthly pleasures. Therefore, mindfulness can be a natural dieting tool at mealtime.
How is this possible? When you see food – give thanks and tune into your senses. You do not have to give thanks verbally, if it makes you feel uncomfortable, but you should make it a mental exercise, before every meal. This will help your spiritual health and slow the pace of eating down.
The senses of sight, and smell, come into play long before your first bite, so take the time to be mindful of them after you have given thanks. Eat for the right reasons. Those reasons should be: your health and your life.
Eating should be nutritionally dense, in moderation, and in the best possible frame of mind. Be mindful of every bite, your digestive process, and all your senses. This pace will slow you down.
Thoroughly chew each bite and sip water during your meal. Yogis, and Yoginis, learn to pace their breath in Pranayama practice. Therefore, you should pace yourself in regard to eating and breathing at mealtime. You should not be short of breath while eating. If you are, you make eating into a stressful situation. You learn to breathe in Yoga class, and you should continue proper breath control at every possible moment.
If you work in a company that doesn’t allow time for
eating, eat small nutritionally dense snacks, and look for another job. Companies that function, in this way, are killing their employees with stress. This is not a
harmonious atmosphere, and the stress will get you too.
Lastly, remember that weight control is not a mathematical formula. There are many intangibles that “fly under the radar.” Science cannot yet accurately measure the power of your mind, commitment, and spiritual health.
Yoga is much more than an exercise class. At present, Yoga is the most complete health system known to humankind. Yoga encompasses mental, physical and spiritual health.
There are some Chinese internal martial arts systems that come close, but Yoga is the Mother of most Asian martial arts systems. How is this possible?
Bodidharma, an Indian Buddhist monk, taught a form of Yoga to the monks at the Shaolin temple for health maintenance. Due to his visit, the Shaolin temple became the birthplace of Ch’an Buddhism. Also resulting from this encounter, Chinese Kung Fu was born, and many styles of martial arts have continued to evolve to this day.
There is so much to learn about Yoga that none of us will be able to learn everything in one lifetime. The results of regular Yoga practice, and the lessons in mindfulness taught by a competent Yoga teacher, will help you control your weight and so much more.
© Copyright 2005 – Paul Jerard / Aura Publications
Paul Jerard is the director of Yoga teacher training at Aura in RI. He’s a master instructor of martial arts and Yoga. He teaches Yoga, martial arts, and fitness. He wrote: Is Running a Yoga Business Right for You? For Yoga students wanting to be a Yoga teacher.