As a yogi are you searching for something? What are you looking to cultivate? Why do you get on your mat each month? Each week? Each day? Why do you keep coming back? I wonder, is it to become conscious? I have been thinking about this word, consciousness, a lot lately and to be honest I’m a bit confused. Is the aim to be conscious? Or is consciousness like a boat ride we go on to change states of being?
My mission in life is to help women bridge the gap between yoga and food. It seems that while ON the mat many people get behind the notion of being self-aware. They then go to their kitchens and forget to stay present with themselves.
This often results in people eating food that looks good, eating out of pleasure or as a means to escape. The “problem” is that these behaviors do not support our overall well-being, current health concerns or serve the body. And what about the amount in which people ingest. If we aim to use the tool of consciousness to stay connected to ourselves, then how come so many over eat.
Standing on the mat in yoga class you start to become present to your body. I imagine you begin by checking in with sensations. You may feel areas of tensions. As you stay conscious you begin to use the breath to focus your attention and bring energy and vitality to areas that feel tight and blocked. The asanas themselves combined with breath and awareness begin to release the tensions and you start to feel more open, free and expansive. The teachings train you to watch thoughts pass by like clouds in the sky and let them go. The more you practice coming back into the present, you realize nothing is really wrong or bad. As you continue to feel the expansive open nature of your being you say, “Hey this feels good. I’ll come back again soon.”
I remember years ago walking out of Jivamukti yoga studio in New York City feeling these amazing benefits of my yoga practice. I was present, alive, happy and centered. I lived right across the street so I usually went home after practice. As I went up the stairs to my 4th floor walk up apartment it seemed that as I landed on each floor the part of me that was “awake” went to sleep. Before I knew it was standing in my kitchen with a box of cereal…. gone. What happened? Only moments before I was this women who embodied presence and consciousness and then upon walking into my house I had forgotten it all.
I would ask myself, am I hungry? Was the yoga class too intense and therefore I decided to dissipate the energy with food?
This didn’t only happen right after yoga class, it seemed to be happening most of the time I ate.
Awake on the mat.
Asleep in the kitchen.
Since I was on a search of self-discovery I decided to investigate. I wanted to know why I couldn’t stay conscious with food. As my search began I found was that many women (and men) struggle staying present while eating. I also was affirmed that our culture does not take pride, slow down or pay attention to ones relationship to food, Not only WHAT we put into our body but HOW we put food in our body.
As my exploration unfolded and my quest to learn how to become a conscious eater grew I had a paradigm shift. I realized that our current relationship and practice with food is not the problem. It’s actually the GIFT. Food as the study of who you are can lead you through the doorway to awakening. Our relationship to food is the vehicle to be here NOW!
I decided to practice. What would happen when I “did yoga” in the kitchen. Breathed, checked in, asked questions and investigated the reasons for my hunger. I discovered many things. First I wasn’t always hungry for food. I became more present to the feelings in my stomach, heart, legs and my whole body. As a result I was able to choose the exact foods my body needed. Not from a place of logic but from a direct experience of my bodies messages. I found I enjoyed food more. The tastes, colors, textures. Gosh I had been missing so much. The more I practiced the yoga of eating I didn’t want to use food to escape. This gift brought me an abundance of joy.
You might be wondering how you can take your yoga practice off the mat and into the kitchen. Here are some useful tools to begin with.
The first stage is OBSERVATION:
When you walk into the kitchen check in with yourself. This includes all your parts; your body, your thoughts, your breath… Just like on the yoga mat. One of the keys to taking yoga off the mat and into the kitchen is to cultivate a practice with your senses. How does the kitchen smell? What sensations do you have in your mouth? What are the first things you see when you enter the kitchen? A glass or water? Or the brownies someone left after the party last night? Are you craving sweet? Salty? Pungent? Are you having cravings?
This is one level of conscious eating.
The second stage is INQUIRY
The art of asking and being in the question.
Do you need to eat foods that settle or do you need something to get you going? What are you aims when it comes to diet? What would give you the deepest nourishment?
The third stage is the INVESTIGATION
How do you respond when you decide to eat one food or another?
How do you respond to your cravings? Quickly or with pause and reflection? Are there certain times of day, certain foods or environments where you check out when there is food? Do you eat too much? Do you avoid certain situations if there is going to be food around? How do you eat? What happens when you try to restrain from certain foods? Do you notice that food is the place you go when you need comfort, relaxation or peace? WHO ARE YOU IN RELATIONSHIP TO FOOD?
Start with this 3-step process.
As the months go on stay tuned because I will be elaborating on each stage.
In the meantime I invite you to be bold. Be someone who uses food as a tool for self-discovery. And if you are ready to put this into practice join me and Yoga Tree this month for the 10TH ANNIVERSARY of our Cleanse and Renew Program: A 3- week springtime cleanse.
This cleanse will support you to clear up health concerns, enhance digestion, give your body a break so you feel renewed, help you have more energy and more. But in addition it emphasizes the aspect of awakening through the practice of food.
We meet three Sundays, April 15, 22, 29, 2012. If you have to miss a class, no problem, we record everything.
Details are below.
I look forward to supporting you and your food freedom!
Darshana Weill is a Food Freedom Coach and yoga teacher. She founded Find Food Freedom; A program where women gather to cultivate a peaceful relationship with food and their bodies. She works with individuals and groups. She also teaches a variety of health related workshops around the Bay Area, Santa Cruz and nationally.
WORKSHOPS DARSHANA TEACHES AT THE YOGA TREE
April 15, 22, 29, 2012
Cleanse and Renew; A 3- week springtime cleanse- Yoga Tree Valencia
For details or to register go to:
Yoga for Women’s Wellness
Friday’s at YOGA TREE TELEGRAPH, Berkeley
Starting April 6, 2012
Yoga for women’s wellness
$40 for 4-week series
$12 drop in class
The Yoga of Food: How is life feeding you?Nutrition 101, Sugar can be Medicine, Women’s Wellness: Treat PMS Naturally, To Be or Not To Be a Vegetarian and Yoga and Food For Emotional Eating.
To find out more about Darshana’s program
FINDING FOOD FREEDOM
Check out www.Liberationfromemotionaleating.com
To contact Darshana directly call 510-423-0603 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Want more recipes? Check out Darshana’s 50 quick and easy recipes Ecookbook: http://darshanaweill.com/page/cookbook-1