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Yoga and its link with vegetarianism/veganism

by Michaela Žáková

Yoga is an ancient group of physical, mental and spiritual disciplines. It originated in India more than 5,000 years ago. This practice uses asanas (postures) – focused concentration on specific body parts, and pranayama (breathing techniques) to integrate the body with mind and mind with soul. There are various types of yoga, that have developed over the centuries – Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Bikram, Acro, etc. Fundamentally, all yoga types strive for the same outcome, a unification of mind and body and spirit.

There are chakras as the center points of energy, thoughts, feelings and the physical body. They determine the way people experience reality through emotional reactions, desires or aversions, levels of confidence or fear, and physical symptoms and effects. People who practice yoga use asanas to stimulate an imbalanced chakras. There are seven major chakras and each of them has their own focus.

Benefits beyond the mat

Yoga develops inner awareness. It focuses your attention on your body’s abilities at the present moment. It helps develop breath and strength of mind and body. Those who practice yoga are usually more aware of their bodies and also more satisfied and less critical with it. They are mindful eaters and may be more sensitive to hunger cues and feelings of fullness. 

In itself, practicing Yoga is very beneficial, but when complemented with the healthy food habits, it can really do wonders. What we eat, not only influences our physical well being, but also our emotions and thoughts. Yoga classifies food according to the effect it has on the body and mind, into three types – satva, rajas and tamas.

Sattvic foods are those which purify the body and calm the mind (Examples – Fresh fruits, green leafy vegetables, nuts, grains, fresh milk , certain spices).

Rajasic foods stimulate the body and mind into action. In excess, these foods can cause hyperactivity, restlessness, anger, irritability, and sleeplessness (Examples – Spicy food, onion, garlic, tea, coffee, fried food).

Tamasic foods are those which dull the mind and bring about confusion and disorientation. Stale or reheated food, oily or heavy food and food containing artificial preservatives fall under this category (Example – non-vegetarian diet, stale food, excessive intake of fats, oil, sugary food).

All food has it’s energy

Talking about energy in food, imagine being a little calf just about to be taken to the butcher. How do you think the animal feels? This energy does not leave the flesh even afterwards when it’s ready on the counter of your favorite butcher shop. Then you cook it and minutes later this energy flows within you. Therefore the statement that you are what you eat is fairly accurate. People following vegetarian or vegan diet tend to be less aggressive and more peaceful. There is no such harmful energy in plants!

It is also said that the state of the mind of the person cooking the food you eat affects it too. The energy in the food cooked by someone angry will definitely be lower than that of someone who cooked it with a feeling of love, contentment and gratitude. So make sure to be positively tuned when cooking!

Yogis that eat vegan often talk about the principle of ahimsa, (the idea of non-harming). It is one of the main tenants of the Yoga Sutra and implies that practicing yoga goes off the mat. The yogi lifestyle sees the diet as one of the most important parts of a yoga practice. Eating vegan is an easy way to practice ahimsa because in doing so, you are making sure you don’t harm any animals and therefore not harming yourself in the end.

Eager to start but don’t know where?

Make sure you check out our website www.veggymalta.com . You can find a big amount of vegetarian and vegan recipes in there with step-by-step guide on how to prepare plant based food. In my opinion, start slowly. Exclude meat gradually up to the point when you will no longer feel the need to eat it at all. Small steps are steps too and the chances of you quitting will be slightly lower. Also you can ask your family to join you so you will be in it altogether supporting each other!

When it comes to yoga, you can start by yourself, there are loads of youtube videos. My favorite are 10 minute morning yoga stretches, because you just need 10 minutes and it sets the tone for the rest of your day.

If you feel like doing more than that, attend a yoga class! I myself try to practice yoga at least once a week taking an online class with Erika. Reach out to her via Facebook – Healing Yoga In Action and I am sure she will be happy to welcome you in one of her yoga sessions. Just try it and you will feel the energy change after only first class!

Once you start changing your habits and stay committed, you have won. One day or day one. You choose.

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