There is the belief that to practice yoga, and to truly be considered a Yogi, one must avoid eating meat or any food that is related to animals. Some follow this path wholeheartedly, while some dabble in and out and others disagree entirely with this lifestyle choice.
Selecting what we put into our bodies is a difficult choice to make. We are constantly influenced by what we hear and read about food and others’ opinion about our food choices, such that it can be tempting to want to give up altogether.
Knowing what to eat based on how your body reacts and feels from the food you consume is a great step in knowing what you want to intake. Applying Ahimsa to this concept, what essentially can be interpreted as non-harming, is a helpful belief to add to your way of thinking and is best viewed at not harming yourself above all else.
How To Practice Ahimsa With Your Diet?
Very often, people view food as a form of punishment or even a reward; by using Ahimsa in how you think about food, you will come to recognize it is not about either of those things, rather it recognizes your body’s need for regular and healthy fuel throughout the day.
Whether you choose to view this practice as avoiding meat, dairy, gluten, or other types of food, it is completely up to you. Furthermore, it should not be determined by what others think or try to tell you regarding your eating habits. Practicing Ahimsa is taking a mindful approach to your meals, allowing yourself time to eat and enjoy the foods you choose to consume.
How Food Affects Our Body Image And Mind?
Take the time to recognize the physical, mental and emotional relationships you have with food and what effect it has on your body. Food has a way of impacting much of how we feel: anemia, calcium deficiency, food anxiety, and body dysmorphia, to name a few. Ahimsa teaches us to be compassionate towards our body and knowing how to care for it with the use of food properly.
What Ahimsa Teaches Us
One of the most important factors brought about by following the path of Ahimsa is teaching us to listen to our bodies rather than being swayed by fads, diet, cleanses and whatever society says we ought to be doing. It teaches us to focus on positive body image which is something that yoga advocates for. To add, it also encourages us to focus less on maintaining an impossible ideal of what others conceive to be perfect.
If Ahimsa is the belief of not causing harm, we must first start with ourselves before we even begin to consider who or what we may harm with the food choices we make. Figuring out how to follow the path of Ahimsa is the first step to giving ourselves relief from the mental and physical harm we often put on ourselves through the food choices we make.
The next time you reach for food, think about the nourishment it will provide your body and don’t harm yourself with negative thoughts if you don’t always make the best choice. It is another path in life that takes time to master, and we are all students along the way.