Re-igniting our Passion for Yoga & Food in the Summertime.
As we go through these seemingly endless summer months, we naturally fall into ruts—what the Buddha refers to as habitual patterns—in all that we hold dear.
That includes our beloved yoga postures, and our relationship with food.
Lately, I’ve found myself moving through the same yoga sequences day after day after day, adding only slight variations to the classic sun salutations and standing warrior sequences. Recently, I’ve realized that I’ve lost my inspiration in these sequences. Like a robot, I am literally just going through the motions.
I am hungry for something—anything—that will help calm my monkey mind (an ongoing challenge for all of us) and support the process of cultivating awareness and presence of the Self (or true nature), which is what yoga is all about.
I begin to crave a new way of moving. And from this yearning deep inside, I bust a move! Sometimes it looks like something in yoga text books…and sometimes it looks like “crazy woman trying to fly” asana. Wherever I find myself, I do something simple: I bring awareness to my breath, and to the form. Through this process, I return to my yoga—and then I can enjoy the basic postures and sequences again. Once I reconnect to my inner teacher, I can appreciate the standing mountain posture, sun salutations, and the warrior sequences in a new and deeper way. And they, in turn, provide the foundation for the rest of my yoga to emerge.
The incredible energy forming in the stars (July astrology articles: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/06/full-moon-in-capricorn-get-ready-for-fireworks/)
I don’t have to look far to see other areas of my life that have the same monotonous rhythm. For example, I often find myself eating the same food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day. I easily stop paying attention to the flavors and colors of the what should be a highlight of my day. Food becomes just one more thing to do in my day.
But then, something taps me on my shoulder and whispers in my ear: “The experience of food is also a yoga. Remember the pleasure of eating.” And sometimes, this voice is not so quiet! It shouts like a 3-year-old: “Moooom! I’m hungry for something good!” When I hear these voices, I know it’s time to change things up, head to the farmers’ market, and find some inspiration.
At the Nosara Yoga Institute, I learned that there are over 180,000 asanas in yoga—in other words, any posture we assume with intention and self-awareness becomes yoga. Of these, only a few have been adopted into modern Vinyasa practice.
Similarly, there are 10,000 known tomato varieties, 7,500 different apple varieties, and thousands of unique heirloom beans and maize. The limited variety of seeds, fruits, and vegetables we see on the grocery shelves became popular not because of their flavor or nutritional value, but because of their ability to look good and transport well.
We become familiar with these classic asanas and staple foods because they are popular. They become our comfort zone. I have worked with children who actually prefer the flavorless, hard tomato we find in the grocery store during winter months to a fresh, juicy heirloom tomato found at a farmers’ market during the summer.
Any movement becomes yoga as we bring our breath and awareness to its form. Yoga is the “yoking” of body, energy, mind, intellect, and spirit. We often think of yoga as pathway to toned muscles and greater flexibility. Instead, the practice of yoga is the experience of bringing awareness to the layers of our being in the present moment. Through yoga, we come to know ourselves. We cultivate a new way of being with ourselves fully: with non-judgment and self-awareness.
There are new asana yoga practices that are being developed and practiced by yogis all around the world. Don Stapleton’s Self-Awakening Yoga Therapeutics of Nosara is one of my favorites. Similarly, there are flavorful, colorful, nutritious foods grown by passionate, independent farmers around the world that will light up your senses—creating experiences of “yoga.” The diversity of food and of yoga postures alike offers us a new relationship to ourselves and our communities. From these diverse experiences, we grow, transform, and evolve into new realms of possibility.
So: when you begin to hear a call beckoning you to go beyond your comfort zone and make new discoveries of postures and foods—go for it. Allowing new postures and flavors to take you deeper into your yoga and your diet stimulates a creative unfolding in all parts of life, leading to unexpected benefits. And it’s actually not that difficult to open up and find new inspiration. If you are a power yogi, perhaps check out the next restorative class (and vice versa). Or, head on over to your local farmers’ market or into your own backyard to discover the incredible, colorful diversity of summer produce that fills the body with abundant, nutrition and soulful energy.
Author: Erin O’Brien
Editor: Waylon Lewis
Photos: Karma Surf Retreat at Flickr
Famous troublemaking farmer Joel Salatin: