Getting the balance of eating and yoga practice down is a challenge for anyone. We overdo it, we under-do it, we practice when we’re full. We under-eat and don’t have the energy to perform. Sigh. Our energy, as well as our hunger peaks and valleys – getting it right is a dynamic dance.
Understanding and experiencing your own subtle body (in yoga, that includes your thoughts, intuition and energy bodies) takes practice. When you practice skillful navigation of your subtle body, particularly balanced with the knowledge of your nutritional needs, it can help prevent you from falling off a nutritional cliff of over- or under- doing it. This is especially handy once you begin the esoteric energy practices and learn that you have greater control over hunger and satiety that you’d realized. Then, having the wisdom of science to anchor you in adequacy is even more important to maintaining physical health.
That’s subtle body nourishment.
Why Bother? Benefits of Energy Practice
When you learn eating meditation techniques you are learning how to turn inward and participate in your body’s guidance systems – you have the option of taking more control – be it breath or eating or even thinking. That’s what all the hoopla is about. If we don’t understand that we are taking the steering wheel of hunger and satiety, it’s easy to under-eat once prana (life force, or energy as in your breath) starts expanding and getting excited. Then, it’s easy to overeat through your inevitable energy contraction.
Many a yogini seems to get into eating trouble when learning these more esoteric practices. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Life is an energy experience. Meditative practices are energy practices, and require that you spend time within your inner landscape – the more time you spend there exploring and curious, the better you will know and be able to navigate that landscape.
By learning how to operate your own subtle body, you can ultimately better navigate the chaos without getting overwhelmed by static. You can operate in a more intentional way.
This sort of practice brings consciousness to your personal energy ecology; the conditions under which you shine, for example.
Energy practice, meditation, mindfulness can help you learn how to improve your digestion – how to basically give your bodies what it needs (time and calm, primarily) to digest properly.
What is the Subtle Body?
In yoga philosophy, the subtle body is the aspect of you that is unseen by the human eye. It includes your thoughts and emotions, the wisdom aspect of you – your intuition, and your energy body.
The subtle body profoundly determines how you feel, react and respond to the world around us. When you learn how to guide your own thoughts, for example, you can literally change your perception of your own life. When you learn to ground your energy body, you can handle the spiral of chaos that the world at times seems to be, rooting in the real rather than swirling away in yet another frenzied tweet.
Food & Yoga Practice
The truth of the matter is that everyone is different – physically but also nutritionally. How well you can perform right after you eat, and the ideal makeup of a meal to fuel your practice is individual. There are, however, guidelines – rules of the road. Ayurveda practitioners say that certain foods create certain energies. Western science has their own version of the same idea – in a very different language. The language of macro and micro nutrition, and meal timing.
Ultimately, the way to figure out what works for you is to do the experiment. Notice how it works for you.
I’ve been thinking about subtle body nourishment and how food and practice interact in preparation for a gathering of souls at Kripalu July 8-11, Sunday through Wednesday morning. If these topics get interest you, consider joining me to practice, explore and learn about what the yogis and Western nutrition has to say about it.
Be well, practice on.