How Important is Nutrition for Yoga?

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Yoga is much more than contorting your body into different poses -it’s a way of life. From the diet to the exercise, yoga can be the catalyst to turning over a new, healthier and more zen-like leaf in your life.

Yoga as Lifestyle – For Health and Wellness

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposal to mark International Yoga Day got an official nod from the United Nations, it was emblematic of a whole lot of things. In a way, it was a sign of global acceptance of the alarming state of human health and an even more urgent need to fix it. The day has been set up to remind the world about yoga’s true meaning. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfillment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well being.

There’s no denying the fact that lifestyle diseases are on a sharp rise. Not only are our habits becoming more and more sedentary and inactive, our environment is also harboring bacteria, parasites and viruses like never before. The current strains of viruses are becoming ever strong with a new found resistance to traditionally prescribed antibiotics.

Being a nutritionist, I am forever fascinated by the huge effect a change in nutrition has on people’s life. When you feed an engine with premium petrol, it performs more effectively. Similarly, feed your body well, and it’s easier to get on the right track and drive well. Suddenly our thoughts become lucid, our soul can speak clearly and we find it easier to listen and apply what we hear.

Nutrition According to Yoga: The Yoga of Nutrition, is examining our nutritional choices through a lens of mindfulness that can help us become more aware and empowered.

When speaking of nutrition, it refers to useful properties found in various food substances that you can acquire upon consuming foods that contain them. These nutrients are needed by the body to nourish the vital organs to ensure that your body is functioning as it should. The proper maintenance of your body function is one of the core foundation of one’s health. Unless your organs are functioning properly, you cannot enjoy optimum health condition.

  • When it comes to yoga’s view of nutrition, the same concept applies. However, it is more focused on your lifestyle and dietary choices that ensure all of the essential nutrients are acquired to maintain proper body function. It begins with choosing the right type of foods to include in your diet and your own eating habits. These are two of the most important factors in yoga’s perspective of nutrition and how you can utilize your diet to promote holistic health.
  • Healthy eating is also based on increased awareness. Those who follow the path of healthy nutrition quickly discover the strength of the link between the food taken and its effect on the body. Most of us lack this awareness or have it only partially. We eat whatever we fancy, drink what we like, gobble it up and stuff it in, and in the name of the good life we ignore the body’s alarm bells. Naturally, if you combine the awareness gained from eating well with that acquired during yoga practice, your ability to look after your private temple, your body, is increased manifold.
  • When there’s balance in all areas of our life, when we’re eating whole plant-based foods, getting enough physical activity, and managing our stress, we are nurturing our whole beings-physically, emotionally, and spiritually and nourishing our deepest selves.
  • One of the cornerstones of the yoga of nutrition, is mindful eating—slowing down, paying attention to what’s happening by focusing the sensations occurring while we eat.
  • Mindful eating is a type of meditation. By bringing our awareness to the present moment, we remind ourselves to slow down, dive in, eat with all of our senses; after all how we eat is as important as what we eat.
  • Mindful eating is an incredible tool for those who struggle with overeating. By building awareness, we shift our internal environment, and in the process we often discover how our emotions affect our food choices.
  • Because our usual standard diet is toxic, full of processed foods, and sugar-laden, we have to be conscious to be healthy. The repercussions of mindless eating are more than just physical; they affect all aspects of our being. Mindful eating, like yoga, is a practice of compassion and self-observation.
  • Digestion plays an important part in the mindful-eating process. Digestion is a complex biological process, and a primary way in which we interface with the world. When we’re stressed, our digestion gets out of sync, which can lead to a host of maladies, both physical and emotional. Plus stress can promote weight gain; many people turn to food when they’re stressed, and the choices made are often not the healthiest. Along with mindful eating, the physical asana (posture) practice can combat stress, alleviating digestive ailments. And yoga tones of the musculature of the digestive system—think detoxifying twists and core strengtheners.
  • Ultimately, the power of mindful eating is that it helps us to dive in and listen to our body, and how we fuel our body in the present moment, both with the foods we consume and the intention with which we approach their consumption. Take time to eat, to pay attention and be fully aware of the experience of nourishment that you’re having.
  • Whether you suffer or delight, you experience yourself as free from both and that freedom is ultimate gift of yoga. Whether you are suffering from disease or not, by recognizing your true nature you are beyond suffering.

All the above factors can help to cure most lifestyle related diseases, reduce your vulnerability to them, improve health, encourage and give you strength to live healthy life, and prevent you from falling back to unhealthy ways.

At the end of the day, both yoga and healthy nutrition put an emphasis on personal experimentation and on self-improvement and development. In both cases, no one can do it for you; you, and only you control the rate of experience and learning.

Both Yoga and Nutrition offer a continuous, challenging and unending learning experience, which allows us to become aware of ourselves and our body in a more constructive way, to grow and develop clear and helpful insights regarding our bodies, minds, souls and lives. For those who are willing to pick up the gauntlet, the experience can be unforgettable.

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