Yoga is this week's topic and it can fulfil many of our primary food needs including Spirituality, Joy, Physical Activity, Health, Social Life and even Career. In fact, if practiced properly and truthfully over time, yoga can indeed benefit every part of your life including your relationships, both with others and perhaps most importantly, the relationship with yourself.
Yoga is a science, and not one developed for the purpose of giving you a great body! It goes a whole lot deeper than that, but that doesn't mean we cannot enjoy the positive effects that a yoga practice can have on our bodies and minds. Used correctly over a long period of time the physical practice of yoga can bring about incredible transformation to the body, cleaning it up of toxins that have built up over time and reducing the desires for substances that intoxicate our bodies in the first place. Transformation can be quite dramatic for some but not necessarily immediate or initially visible. To experience real change, without a doubt requires discipline, focus and no real attachment to a particular outcome. If the goal is really to lose weight or tone up there are plenty of sports and other physical activities that can produce better, faster results.
So what is it about yoga then? Why do it? On purely a physical level yoga is one activity that can be practiced in some shape or form for all of your life. It can support the body, as it changes through various life stages and, inevitably, slows down with old age. It helps lengthen muscles, increasing flexibility and ease of movement in the body, which could make tying your shoe laces at the age of 80 a whole lot easier! Some people practice for this reason alone.
In terms of the subtler aspects of yoga we certainly notice benefits to the mind in its calming effect. Lying in Savasana (corpse pose) at the end of a practice one notices a stillness of mind, a reduction in the chatterings that go on most of the day, perhaps more clarity in thought therefore an ability to make better decisions. Some people simply enjoy the 'time out' for themselves, away from the madness of their daily lives and responsibilities. The breathing element of a yoga practice by itself can bring about positive effects to the mind. The breath and mind being so connected in the way the breath changes when we experience different emotions, such as sadness or anger, means we can use the breathing techniques in yoga to control the mind and bring it to a more level place. Breath work is a fundamental part of any yoga practice and arguably the most important. The effects of correct breathing can be felt on every level – physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual.
It's true with any practice whether it be yoga, a musical instrument, a sport or a religion, that focus and commitment are required in order to see results. Repetition is key, and belief in the system, sport or instrument to which you dedicate yourself to. The outcome is entirely unpredictable. But for many who decide to take up yoga, initially for some of the physical benefits mentioned, it becomes much much more than a physical activity. It might even become a spiritual practice, a system to follow to improve not only your own life but of those around you, an awakening of a desire to lead a cleaner, healthier life and to contribute positively to the world.
For others yoga enhances their social lives and becomes a new way of meeting great people. I haven't met many nasty yoga practitioners on my travels, it has to be said. It can be a great excuse to go on yoga holidays to explore exotic places, or simply a breakfast with some interesting folk after class on the weekend.
And for others, the call to teach after practicing for a long time themselves is too strong and yoga becomes a whole new career. Again this can't be predicted and certainly shouldn't be the goal of starting yoga. There are much easier and more profitable career changes available! But it could be that the benefits from yoga are such that you feel stronger and more confident as you decide to make changes within your current career or take on an entirely new one.
So which Primary Food needs your attention? Are you already working on one particular area of your life? Could yoga help you along the way?
The Love Food & Yoga retreat in Goa will provide the perfect environment to tap into some of these amazing benefits. If you're new to yoga, you'll be fully supported in getting started. And if you've dabbled but haven't committed, fear not, there will be no judgement, just gentle encouragement to get going again. Those with steady practices are of course most welcome too, as you will most likely know, there is always growth, always learning.
Look forward to sharing and of course experiencing a whole lot more in Goa!!
Questions? Email Anthea at firstname.lastname@example.org.