For 2015 I decided to take ‘the leap’ and transition to becoming a vegan. I have been vegetarian off and on for years, and have always felt called to this way of eating for ethical reasons. On the other hand, I never felt I had the time and energy, or a desire to cook. For those reasons, being vegetarian always proved to be challenging… hence the ebb and flow.
This was a big decision and one that has forever changed my relationship to eating. In no way am I saying this dietary choice is for everyone, or that it is ‘required’ to be a “good” yogi, but I do believe that yoga is more than just a mat practice and is a way of becoming more conscious and aware in our daily lives, and that extends to eating too.
Ironically though, this aspect had never really occurred to me before because I have never been one to diet or pay much attention to what I eat, and generally very comfortable with my body at any and every size it has been in the past (and it has fluctuated!)
But, this has become the answer to the always asked question, “why did you go vegan?” Not what I thought it would be, that ethically I wanted to save lives, but that it has become an extension of my yoga practice, which is also become the greatest benefit so far, for me. It is yet another way to practice.
I now read labels and am mindful of what I am putting in to my body.
I cook, mostly fresh foods, rather than mindlessly and easily eating out.
I extend love to myself and body by preparing meals and foods that I know I need, learned through my yoga practice and awakening, listening, and understanding its messages.
I eat slower and with more reverence, not having to trick my mind and heart to being ok with meat, my food is now much more fulfilling.
We live in a culture that is food abundant yet diet obsessed, but know this, conscious eating supports us in feeling nourished, enjoying our food and meals, and allows us to soften those rigid boundaries or barriers or relationship to food, whether or not you are vegan.
Our mat and meditation practices awaken us to all habits, beliefs, and patterns that extend or are part of our lives. The mat is a mirror. So as you grow your ability to be mindful of the physical or mental patterns or habits, of limiting beliefs of body for example, you grow your ability to relate more consciously to all aspects of life in the light of that awareness, including eating and food.
Thinking of meals as part of yoga can change your relationship to eating and turn it in to yet another ritual, or sacred time, that nourishes your body, mind, and spirit.
Here are five small, sustainable ways you can begin this journey of making eating an extension of your yoga practice:
1. You all know it, have heard it before, but read labels. Make a conscious decision as to what you are putting in your body, and if you can’t pronounce it, don’t buy it.
2. Prepare meals for yourself with love. Think of all the effort that went in to growing, harvesting, and getting those ingredients to you, and be grateful for the abundance and access you have to it.
3. Say a small prayer before you begin your meal making that time sacred and special, and transforming it in to yet another nourishing ritual for all levels.
4. Eat slowly, chew your food well, counting bites (as many as you would like) like you would count your breath in meditation for example.
5. Before grabbing or preparing food ask your body what she/he wants and needs from you in that moment. Approaching it like you would a practice, “do I need yin, restorative, or flow?” listen closely to what is truthfully required to keep you nourished, satiated, and leaves you feeling good and alive.
Megan has been teaching yoga full time in Ottawa and the surrounding areas for over nine years, with a strong focus on Yoga for Women. She founded of Journey of the Yogini, which raised over $175,000 for charities that work towards empowering women and girls locally and globally. She is also the creatrix and Priestess of the JOY Circle and Sacred Movement Programs that mentor women along the path of yoga.
To find out more about Megan visit www.megancampbell.ca