I loved this article in the NY Times about all the interesting “spin-off” experiences some yoga studios and teachers are creating, which integrate yoga with wine tasting, yoga and chocolate, etc. There has been a lively discussion going on in the yoga community as to whether these creative “mash ups” of yoga with culinary experiences violate the more “true”, “purist” essence of yogic teachings.
The biggest debate has been over whether to eat meat. Everyone should take some time to consider the harm to the animals, the terrible practices of most producers, the environmental problems and the health concerns. After you weigh all that, ask yourself how you can LIMIT meat in your diet. Modification, pure and simple. As soon as something is totally “forbidden”, you obsess over it.
My personal approach to this touchy subject: I eat fish about once a week and chicken several times a month. This is what works for me, and you should consider what works for YOU but still makes an effort to help the situation. Our responsibility goes beyond the context of yoga, or whether we love animals. It’s what is better for the environment and our bodies, too. Meat should be a rare treat that we honor and respect deeply in terms of the sacrifice. We should strive to acquire it from companies in which the animals were treated well without chemicals and had a swift and humane end. Let’s be real: eating beautiful, organic vegetables, fruit, quinoa, tofu, almond milk, etc is more about AFFORDABILITY and CONVENIENCE to most people. People are very busy, their budgets are tight, they have children to feed. Not everyone has the time and money to go to Whole Foods and buy $12 artisan arugula. Many people don’t even live anywhere NEAR healthy food: it’s 2am, they’re home from work and all that’s on the way home and open when they get off the bus is McDonald’s.
Having said all this, people do need to educate themselves, and they need to take responsibility for their health and their children’s health, even if it is difficult. There has been a major public shift in awareness of these things with movies like “Supersize Me”, “Food Inc” and “King Korn.” Even last night’s episode of “Parks & Recreation” focused on the topic of mass-produced, unhealthy foods. The bloggers, the filmmakers and the nutrition experts like Marion Nestle are all on TV, NPR, etc. As a result, companies like McDonalds DO respond to public pressure by releasing nutritional information and better products such as salads and yogurt.
OK! Wait Wait Wait….
I’m getting rather “macro” again here, swelling up the topic at hand here to our terribly corrupted, privatized agribusiness, but let’s rein it back in to what I originally was talking about: yoga classes integrating food.
Frankly, I love the idea of integrating a culinary/sensory pleasure at the end of a yoga class. I’ve had ideas about adding a special 10 minute “bonus chocolate meditation” after Savasana. “Sit in easy pose, focus on your breath and 3rd eye point. Inhale. Take a bite of dark Belgian chocolate, and focus on breathing in the flavor, meditating on all the flavor notes–are there dark coffee or fruity notes? Exhale. Inhale again, taking note of lingering flavor on your tongue. Exhale. Take another bite, inhaling, maybe this time you focus on the texture of the chocolate–is it slightly chewy? Does it slightly crumble? Do you prefer to let it melt on your tongue? Now exhale….”
Not hard to see how we can turn a mindless, instant gratification that usually lasts a few seconds into a 5 minute sensual experience. Yoga is wonderful for amplifying our enjoyment of all kinds of things in life. If we learn to enjoy one chocolate as if it were a box of chocolates, well…we’d probably learn to do that with food in general drop a few extra pounds. 🙂
Now where did I put that chocolate…