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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50 Things To Be Happy About

It's the little things in life.
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It is always easier to pick out the negatives in life. We tend to dwell on them and drown out the happy moments. I asked a friend to tell me something that made them happy. They sarcastically laughed at my question then thought about it for a minute. Nothing. But they could easily come up with things that made them unhappy. Then I read them my list, and they were smiling and laughing in agreement the whole time. There are so many more things to be happy and laugh about than we realize. After all- it's the little things in life that can mean the most! Here are 50 things that make me happy. What are your 50?

  1. The first warm day of the year
  2. Laughing so hard your abs ache
  3. Freshly washed sheets
  4. Looking through old pictures
  5. The smell of a coffee shop
  6. Eating cookie dough
  7. Reading a bible verse that perfectly fits your current situation
  8. Seeing someone open a gift you got them
  9. Eating birthday cake
  10. A shower after a long day
  11. Marking something off your to-do list
  12. Drinking ice cold water on a really hot day
  13. Dressing up for no reason
  14. Breakfast food
  15. Being able to lay in bed in the morning
  16. Finding something you love at the store
  17. And it’s on sale
  18. Cute elderly couples
  19. When a stranger compliments you
  20. Getting butterflies in your stomach
  21. Taking a nap
  22. Cooking something delicious
  23. Being lost for words
  24. Receiving a birthday card in the mail
  25. And there's money in it
  26. Finally cleaning your room
  27. Realizing how fortunate you are
  28. Waking up from a nightmare and realizing it wasn't real
  29. Fresh fruit
  30. Walking barefoot in the grass
  31. Singing along to a song in the car
  32. Sunrises
  33. Sunsets
  34. Freshly baked cookies with a glass of milk
  35. Summertime cookouts
  36. Feeling pretty
  37. Looking forward to something
  38. Lemonade
  39. Comfortable silences
  40. Waking up in the middle of the night and realizing you have more time to sleep
  41. Surviving another school year
  42. The cold side of the pillow
  43. The smell of popcorn
  44. Remembering something funny that happened
  45. Laughing to yourself about it
  46. Feeling weird about laughing to yourself
  47. Printed photographs
  48. Wearing a new outfit
  49. The sound of an ice cream truck
  50. Feeling confident
Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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When Should I Eat?

You should typically eat when your body tells you to, not your craving or friend.

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Do you find that you are not hungry for dinner when you sit down at the usual time? How about lunch? Or breakfast? Or even when you snack? For me, it is usually dinner time when I feel this way. Perhaps after the first dish, you work up an appetite and go up for seconds. Later, you think, "why did I do that?"

We have been trained to eat three square meals at certain times of the day, at least I was. It is something our parents did and their parents. But here is something I have learned, not everyone should have the same eating patterns. Digestive systems differ per person and each individual requires differing amounts of calories for every day. For me, I have a sensitive digestive system. I have learned the hard way when I decided to eat seconds or eat when my body said it wasn't hungry.

Recently I have changed my eating pattern after reading Mark Divine's "The Way of the SEAL." To those who don't know, this book has heavily influenced my life and I wrote an article about it. In one section of the book, he gave a quick suggestion on eating habits. He said that the three square meals a day comes from the Industrial Revolution days when people had specific schedules. He said that the body should be fueled as needed through eating. Not only did it benefit his health, it freed up his breaks at work to focus on other things. At the same time, he states that it is okay to break the rule once in a while to enjoy life.

Even though his book didn't focus on nutrition or eating habits, this small section caused me to analyze my patterns. I realized that I was having calorie-rich meals when I wasn't hungry and that it usually caused indigestion. Plus his advice just sounded like common sense, eat when you're hungry. So I decided to start doing this. The result: I felt healthier and experienced less indigestion. And something seemed right about it.

If you consider it, our body sends us many messages on what to do. When to go to the bathroom, when you're cold, etc. People typically listen to their body in those situations, but not so much with food. The obesity epidemic in society is evidence of that. Obviously, there are other factors that have caused the obesity problem, but self-control with eating is not encouraged enough. Therefore, I believe people should check for a hungry message from their body before eating. As much as it will cause some odd schedules for meals or quick snacks, it will be beneficial for health. And checking the quantity you eat is important as well.

Another important part of eating is what you eat, which is one we hear about frequently. Another personal observation I have made is that when I eat healthier foods, especially fruit, my mood can get more positive. Probably because healthy fruits and vegetables don't give me the sick feeling after eating a sugar-filled brownie. Believe it or not, a healthier diet can improve mental health according to a study in New Zealand. So why not eat healthier to be in a better mood during the week?

I am not a health nut nor am I against enjoying life with a piece of cake once in a while. But I feel strongly about eating the right foods at the right time. I have gotten weird reactions from some people when I don't eat lunch for a long time or I talk about my eating patterns. I don't care since I know it is good for me and others. For some people, they need three square meals a day at certain times because that is when they are hungry. Like I said before, everyone has different eating patterns. Yet most of our eating should occur to satisfy hunger, not just for the sake of taste or socializing. If every person decided to eat healthy foods in the right quantities based on hunger, I think the health of the nation would improve.

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