By Jenny Park
If there is one reason to stay away from Yoga, dietary restrictions are the front runner in a long line of excuses for staying on the couch. The reputation for Yoga teachers and ashrams creating dietary restrictions is legendary. As Yoga teachers, we may find this comical, but to the public a diet with no meat, no cooked food, no coffee, no chocolate and loaded with raw vegetables in the winter months is depressing to most people.
Granted, I am referring to an extreme sattvic diet that not all Yoga teachers embrace, but this is the common perception within public circles that have no desire to ever practice Yoga. You see, the perceived diet is enough to create false images of a Yogic lifestyle.
“No food or drink in the studio,” seems like a ubiquitous rule. But in some places, food and drink are not only allowed: they’re brought in on purpose. In recent years, Yoga teachers who combine practice styles and chefs who combine world cuisine have gotten together to pair Yoga with food and wine. Is this just a foodie trend, or is there really something to be gained from an appetizer after an asana?
Some of the most famous workshops are put on by teachers like David Romanelli, pairing Yoga with everything from chocolate to pasta. Gourmet restaurants with Yoga offered have sprung up from Napa, California, to Toronto, Canada. Pragmatic teachers describe workshops as attracting new students. Kristina Markoff, founder of Vosges Chocolate in Chicago, notes that ‘pairing chocolate with a Yoga pose might inspire food lovers to incorporate this spiritual practice into their lives.’ The Chicago chef, Rick Bayless, describes the yoga community as sometimes “a little too austere,” and and finds it “hard to talk about what I do with people who believe in eating just what you need to stay alive.” A regular practitioner of Yoga for 15 years, Bayless thinks pairing food and Yoga is a natural combination.
Not all instructors agree. Dharma Yoga director, Eva Grubler, in New York, disagrees with the idea of pairing heavy foods with Yoga, especially meats and wines. In a 2010 New York Times article called “When Chocolate and Chakras Collide,” she is quoted as saying the “true yogic path gradually and organically frees people of desire for meat, dairy, caffeine and alcohol.” Founder of Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga Sadie Nardini counters, “Removing huge swaths of food groups from our diets may not be the most balanced action…and it may not be based on reality, either.” in her article on ‘coming out of the meat closet,’ i.e., admitting that she is not vegetarian, on the Huffington Post.
The variations seem endless: should Yoga be paired with food at all? If so, are some foods okay, while others are forbidden? The decision is personal, but one thing is clear: make your choice mindfully and listen to your body.
© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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