Food Yoga Is a Thing and This Is How You Can Do It

Food Yoga Is a Thing and This Is How You Can Do It

Nourish your mind, body and soul
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If the basis of yoga is to nourish the mind, body and soul, then the same could be said for many other things. One of the most traditional, international ways to do this is with food. People use food to bring family and friends together, and they use it to share joy, warmth and companionship. While the food does help your body, all the rest is part of the mind and, most importantly, soul.

Food yoga is taking that idea and helping to spread it across all your meals, even the ones you eat alone. You also don’t have to wait for special occasions to make it a special event. Food doesn’t have to be just a thing or a break from work. It can represent spots of joy and introspection that are spread throughout the day.

The Theory Behind the Practice

Yoga is more than just a workout. It can be an excellent way to work up a sweat, but it’s supposed to be mentally as well as physically taxing. It’s not touched on as frequently as the asanas, but there are some basic yogic principals that the practice is to embody. These include a variety of deceptively simple ideals that are not dissimilar to the Ten Commandments of Christianity. They are called the Yamas and Niyamas.

The first five Yamas are simple. They instruct you do things like avoiding stealing, violence and greed, along with telling the truth and not going into excess. These are relatively straightforward when applied to your food. Of course, it’s always hard not to be greedy or overindulge, but they are at least simple to grasp.

The second five Niyamas are what can make yoga so mentally tiring. These are internal struggles, battle lines you draw within your heart and soul instead of on your plate. These five include self-discipline, inner exploration, contentment, purity and surrender to a higher power. These are more difficult to apply to a plate of food, so how do you do it?

Making Mealtime Mindful

The first and simplest step is to make yourself aware of what you’re doing as you shop, cook and eat. This is not nearly as simple as it sounds. Our brains are hardwired to tune out daily activities and think about other things. It’s the same as when you’re trying to meditate, but you’re thinking about the emails you have to send or the laundry you have to do.

Staying present and aware of your food choices and eating habits requires a lot of thought. Researching the environmental impact of your food, finding out where it’s grown, avoiding those that are unnecessary and harmful, and making selections that will provide the most nutritious options are part of it. There is no one diet that is better, whether it’s omnivore, vegetarian, vegan or something in between. The idea isn’t to control what you eat because of whatever is popular. Instead, it’s to take care in making sure your choices are as healthy and wholesome for you as they are those they touch.

From Food to Yoga

Food yoga comes down to a few essentials that help meld the Yamas and Niyamas with your plate. The focus is to choose foods based on what effect they have on your body, including sattvic, rajasic and tamasic foods.

Sattvic foods must be eaten soon after cooking and help center the mind and body. Rajasic foods are what others call hyperpalateable foods, or foods that pack a lot of flavor into a small package. These are easy to overindulge in and can lead to weight issues and disordered eating. Donuts, cake and lasagna are good examples. Tamasic foods have less to do with taste and more to do with their composition and are usually heavy, oily foods. These are the ones that leave you feeling overly full and slow after eating.

The point of food yoga is to choose foods that fall into the sattvic category, and limit those that can cause issues like rajasic and tamasic. This means a diet heavy in healthful, nutritious options with fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds making up the majority of your diet. When done correctly, with care taken in the selection of items and thoughtfulness dedicated to eating the meal itself, you can completely transform the way you eat.

Like all things in yoga, a change like this takes time. You may find you only reduce your consumption of animal products, or that you stop eating them altogether. Your personal journey with food will be different from anyone else’s. The most important step is to use food as a way to encourage your health both physically and mentally.

Cover Image Credit: Sambazon

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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Being Skinny Isn’t As Great As You Think

A reflection on the struggles that come with a person's body image.

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Body image. It is one of the most powerful and harmful things on a person's self-esteem. Society and media have placed so many images of what we "should" look like. How we need to be eating, exercising, dressing, EVERYTHING. According to others, we always need to change ourselves or second guess how we see our bodies.

For as long as I can remember everyone has called me "tiny". Sure, being small and being able to fit into a lot of clothes is fun, but being tiny or thin isn't always a good thing. I am your typical college kid eating whatever I want whenever I want.

The only difference between myself and other students is that I almost never gain weight. Some girls or guys may read that part and think that I have a gift or blessing. That I can do whatever I want and still stay small and "pretty".

Have you ever finished a meal then looked at yourself and felt like something wasn't right? Some people in today's world and in history will spend time looking at themselves and seeing multiple things that are wrong with their body.

Some handled that by exercising and losing weight or gaining muscle, others have gone as far as throwing up their food or taking pills that force their bodies not to gain ANY weight. Hearing about that from adults or doctors seems crazy but people do it all the time. Possibly the people around you and you would never know.

I went to middle school with a girl that always finished her lunch walking to the trash and then taking herself to the bathroom. She wouldn't come back to our table until the lunch bell rang. Most people didn't give a second thought to this situation, me however, I followed her one day. What I saw next was something I wasn't prepared for as a 7th grader.

Two sinks, a mirror, and three stalls. One was occupied and the rest were empty. I walked into crying and nothing else. The girl had already taken care of her food and was trying to gather herself after what she just did.

People told her that she was gaining weight, that she was "chunky" or fat. She wasn't the only girl around that dealt with horrible comments like that. It's also not just girls dealing with issues like this.

Boys and men are constantly judged and only "ideal" if they are muscular. Young boys are called pigs or disgusting only because of their weight and looking bigger than the "average" person. Men are downgraded to a lesser meaning when they are thin and "stick like".

Even as we grow up kids and sometimes adults say things without realizing the effect. Being called tiny or skinny all of the time can make someone just feel small. Getting comments to eat a hamburger and fries can make someone feel insulted.

Having comments made about your skin or hair and people making assumptions about you can make someone feel misunderstood or judged. Being told that you need to eat more or go tanning because your body doesn't "look right" can torture a person.

There are so many things that play into a person's self-esteem. Average size, too small or too big is simply just words coming out of someone's mouth that don't understand the true beauties in life.

Do you ever look at a big oak tree and say, "You're too fat, you should really lose some weight."

Do you ever see a flower that blooms smaller than a quarter and tells it, "You are tiny! Why don't you go eat a burrito or something?"

No. You probably don't. Just replace the oak tree with mom and see how that feels coming out of your mouth. Replace flower with a teenage girl and see if you can actually say all of those things. Imagine if you were a parent and it was your little girl or boy that you were talking to and you said those words. Would you be happy with yourself? Would you feel guilty? Would you push them to make their body unhealthy just to fit society's standards?

I hope that you wouldn't

There are so many of us out there being told what to do with ourselves in order to be happy with our bodies. How can someone else determine our happiness for us? I have personally gotten to the point of breaking.

I see friends on a daily basis that want to change their body because it's "ugly". Many of those thoughts are because of things society has put in our minds, and not what truly matters.

As a society, we need to push towards total acceptance. Now, I am not meaning the sexuality or ethnicity type of acceptance because those are important on a different level. Respecting each other and our bodies are something that needs to be understood and enforced as much as sexuality acceptance is pushed.

I want to live in a world and raise children in a world that doesn't make people feel horrible about their bodies. It is THEIR body, not ours. The only body we should be worrying about is our own. I want my future daughter to grow and love playing dress up without wondering if her body looks right in what she's wearing. I want my future son to go to gym class and be able to do only one pull up with all of the other boys cheering him on to do better.

Is that too much to ask?

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