July '08 Health

Healthy Eating Tips for Yogis
by Kino MacGregor

1. Be conscious of your emotional state before, during and after eating. If you are angry, sad, anxious or depressed before or during your meal you will not digest your food as well as when you are peaceful, relaxed and happy. If you notice that you feel worse after you eat it’s a good sign to take a deeper look at your food choices.

2. How you feel about what you eat is as important as any dietary rule, dogma or guideline. A peaceful state of mind is crucial to a sattvic lifestyle and your relationship with food is a great place to start. Let go of any rules that cause you stress or create rigidity and allow them to soften and be replaced with more relaxed attitudes about your body, food and health.

3. When you eat anything you say an internal “yes” to the entire means of production of that food item. This tacit “yes” includes the agricultural system, the food production system, the distribution system, the marketing behind the products, the preparation and everything that goes into the production, creation and delivery of the food that you eat. In a sense, eating is a highly complex method of consumerism and your food stands for what means of production you support.

4. Food is one of the most intimate relationships you make with world. What else that you interact with actually passes through the semi-permeable membranes of your body and literally becomes you from the cellular level and up? Your dietary choices are the building blocks of your body, mind and soul.

5. The brain is as affected, if not more affected by the chemicals in food as the rest of your body. The same receptor cells for neurotransmitters that evoke happiness, anxiety, depression and anger respond to the molecules of food as they are digested and transported throughout your bloodstream. What you eat really makes a lasting impact on how you feel, think and act.

6. If you want to live a peaceful life take notice of the principle of Ahimsa or non-violence in your eating habits. Notice not only whether your food choices cause other beings like animals pain, but also whether your attitude towards food causes you or other people pain. A vegetarian person can be very violent towards other people about their non-vegetarian food choices. While a vegetarian diet certainly helps establish you in a more peaceful relationship with other beings, reacting violently towards those who choose a different path violates the deeper purpose of ahimsa, that is, that of creating and living a more peaceful life.

7. The definition of food as molecules such as fats, proteins and carbohydrates belies a more subtle reality of our eating habits. Food often has a very poignant emotional reality that far outweighs the sum total of its molecular structure. In the most simple way of understanding food, it is a way for us to receive nourishment for our universe and the energy that supports it. In the deepest sense it is an expression of love.

8. Food will nourish you to the extent that you’re open to being nourished and it will pollute you to the extent that you’re open to being polluted. How you think, feel and act about food opens doors to your ability to truly assimilate its power. Just as a great deal of the world in the yoga practice is about surrendering, a great deal of health is about receiving and when you eat you must literally surrender and open yourself up to receive the gift of health from the nourishment of food.

9. The body rebuilds itself constantly on a molecular level and over approximately seven years your body will have replaced most every cell throughout itself from your hair all the way down to your organs. When you eat you have the chance to transform the cellular structure of your body.

10. Your body can be thought of as the home for your spirit. Just as you would thoroughly clean out your residence a few times a year, it’s also a good idea to clean out your body a few times a year. The old tradition of spring cleaning can also be applied to your body. After the holiday season and the winter diet of heavy foods it might feel good to fast, cleanse and eat lightly for a few days to keep everything flowing along the inner channels of your body.

Kino MacGregor is the founder of Miami Life Center, a space for Ashtanga yoga, holistic health and consciousness on Miami Beach, where she and her husband Tim Feldmann teach together. She is the youngest woman out of a select few people in the world to receive the certification to teach Ashtanga Yoga by its founder Sri K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India. Both teaching locally on Miami Beach and traveling internationally, she leads classes, privates, workshops, yoga conferences and retreats in traditional Ashtanga yoga and total life transformation. In her unique, inspirational and playful approach, Kino helps her students expand and deepen their understanding of yoga and life.

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