We all must eat to survive, but we can choose to gobble down food with no nutritional benefits or we can make eating a healthy, enjoyable, and even spiritual experience. Here are some simple tips to bring consciousness to your eating habits:
1. Bless your food, bless yourself: Before you eat, take a minute and close your eyes. Quiet your mind and body. Bring your hands to your chest in prayer pose and open up your heart. Acknowledge the relationship between this food and your spirit. This food is for your nourishment, for your acceleration, for your healing, and for your purity. It is a gift from God, creator, mother earth.
2. When you eat, only eat: Today, many foods are designed and packaged so they can be easily eaten while multi-tasking. When you eat in this fashion you are less likely to pay attention to how well your body is processing what you’ve eaten. Instead, try focusing your energy only on eating whenever you eat. This way you can be aware of how your body reacts to what you’ve eaten, how well you are able to digest it, and how you feel afterwards.
3. Chew your food: Chewing your food has a multitude of benefits and is one of the greatest eating habits that you can develop. Chewing helps break the food down into smaller particles and exposes it to more saliva. This makes the food easier to digest and it’s nutrients easier to absorb. The longer you chew, the more time it will take you to finish a meal, and research shows that eating slowly can help you to eat less and, ultimately, avoid weight gain or even lose weight. Chewing also functions as a ‘workout’ for the bones holding your teeth, helping to keep them strong. Yogi Bhajan often spoke on the advantages of chewing slowly. “When you swallow food that is not chewed properly, it swallows your strength, your life. Then nothing is left of you. Slow eating is one of the best meditations on this Earth.”
4. Eat the food that will support you: Food is an incredible tool that can be used to support your health and yogic practice. A traditional yogic diet is a balanced combination of fruits, nuts, vegetables, grains, legumes, and some dairy products with the exception of eggs. This diet is alkaline and enhances the function of the glandular and nervous systems. It is also vegetarian, very easy to digest, and free of the many toxins, uric acid, and excess cholesterol found in most meat. Foods to avoid in order to optimize your health are sugar, and processed/GMO foods. Yogi Bhajan once said “sugar is poison to your body.”
5. Take care of yourself after you eat: Once you’ve finished eating, sit in silence and meditate on digesting. Visualize turning the food you’ve eaten into strength and energy. Yogi Bhajan recommended that you take an 11 minute nap on your right side after you eat to aid in digestion. Yoga postures to aid in digestion include rock pose or sufi grinds. Nothing quite compares to a hot (or cold!) cup of yogi tea after a meal to ease the body into the happy, thankful state of mind that helps you best digest what you’ve eaten.
Check out some of the amazing resources on yogic nutrition and digestive products if you’d like to learn more!