The Yoga of Food

What if I were to say to you, “I am on a diet?”  What would come to mind?

What if a diet were a way of life, a way of being, perhaps even a philosophy? What if our eating or diet was informed by science, yet based on a model of abundance rather than deprivation, on an inner intelligence of what our body needs rather than external rules about what we should eat?

There are differences between diet as a way of living life rather than diet for therapeutic applications (for instance, using diet to reverse an already existing condition such as heart disease). But either way, whether it’s the state prior to disease or during disease, our choices (and an understanding of the root of those choices) make such profound effects at the level of the body, mind, and spirit.

How do we determine our choices?  By the latest scientific discoveries? By the newest food product that looks good on the shelf? By an advertisement? By stress that influences our unconscious choices? By the latest food pyramid? By the latest popular diet? By the latest nutritional data? By an inner and deeper sense of what’s needed? By a deeper sense of connection to self and others? By a clear, discriminative self-awareness?

I am a big believer in sustainability, and “should” is not a sustainable model. When I work with people in the therapeutic practice of yoga, my underlying premise is to create a sustainable practice that moves from a model of deprivation and “shoulds” to a model that encourages a greater sense of inner and outer connection. What will help us connect more with ourselves, and what can bring more joy into our lives?

So the yoga of food isn’t just about what you eat or how mindfully you eat, but a complete, holistic practice that looks at nourishing us at all levels of our being – our body, our subtle vital energy, our intellect, our higher intelligence, and the more abstract level of joyfulness.  When we can create a life that supports us at all these levels, then the yoga of food really becomes a subcategory for the yoga of life.

Can we gradually begin to listen to what the body wants and needs and trust ourselves? What do I mean by the words “trust” and “listen”?  How do we learn to trust ourselves when we might have experiences feeling let down by ourselves?  We feel bored, we feel restless, we feel angry, we feel afraid, we desire some pleasure….and we often go to something to distract us from those feelings. Food is often the first choice and often anything will do.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. To create this inner connection, you do not have to become a daily practitioner of yoga poses, breathing practices, or meditation to cultivate a deeper self-awareness. However, it’s important to begin somewhere, and a nice place to begin is learning to quiet yourself enough to listen to and trust ourselves. This way we can make choices that serve us. And as we begin to feel more inwardly connected, we can also begin to notice the difference between an authentic, what the body really longs for craving, rather than a desire for food that has a more complicated, psychological root. What motivates our hunger and eating? Are we hearing what our body is asking for or are we seeking some solace for our feelings of isolation, for instance? Ideally, we want to quiet ourselves enough that we can not only see what is at the root of our appetites and begin to address it at that level, but also quiet ourselves enough to hear what the body truly needs.

We have a longstanding habit, and a world that encourages it, of distracting ourselves from and distrusting our inner voices. There is an ancient intelligence present inside us; it just speaks a bit more quietly, yet much more sweetly and softly.  Start to learn to quiet yourself, listen to the whisper, and regain that trust.

Kathy Ornish is a practicing and certified yoga therapist (c-IAYT) and a certified yoga teacher (E-RYT-500). She serves as Senior Faculty at Gary Kraftsow’s American Viniyoga Institute where she is Faculty Specialist in the Viniyoga Foundations Program for Teaching and Yoga Therapy. Kathy’s yoga therapy practice involves addressing individual’s structural, physiological, and emotional conditions. Her primary emphasis in all her teaching is the breadth of the yoga tradition using the appropriate application of the many tools of yoga in hopes that she can help people realize their highest potential.  For more information, please visit her website at www.goodspaceyoga.com

2nd Annual HEArt Show Fundraiser a Huge Success!

It wasn’t your typical fundraising event.  Fancy invitations were not sent to a targeted donor mailing list, nor was the event publicized months in advance.  Directed by Clara Bossie, LMFT, the “event committee” consisted of a group of staff members dedicated to a nonprofit organization close to their hearts.  An abundance of creative vision combined with passionate and enthusiastic supporters resulted in the HEArt Show (Healing Through Expressive Arts), benefitting The Body Positive.

Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches was transformed for the sold out event, which took place on February 6th, 2015.  Our building twinkled against the sunset’s dusk, with the landscaping highlighted in hues of blue and purple.  Guests were greeted by live harp music and invited to explore multiple galleries.  While enjoying specially prepared culinary creations, attendees participated in body art, live videography, and hands-on art in our collaborative painting studio.

Over forty featured artists contributed pieces to the HEArt Show.  Whimsical décor and special lighting complimented artwork, which included mixed media, photography, jewelry, fashion, and sculpture.  Featured local artists included Salvatore Principe, Ona Steele, Charles Soto, as well as art students from both Atlantic Community and Boca Raton Community High Schools.  The live auction featured two one-of-a-kind pieces created during the event in our live studio.

Whether attendees were just enjoying the sights or purchasing exquisite artwork, everyone who participated helped to support The Body Positive.  Founded in 1996, The Body Positive’s mission is to teach people how to overcome conflicts with their bodies so they can lead happier, more productive lives.  The organization’s mission is spread through public workshops, student leadership training and mentoring, professional training, and online activism.  Connie Sobczak, Executive Director of The Body Positive, was thrilled to attend the HEArt Show.  Guests were able to receive signed copies of Ms. Sobczak’s book, Embody: Learning to Love Your Unique Body (and quiet that critical voice!).

The personal touches and intimate atmosphere of the HEArt Show made it truly unique in comparison to other fundraising endeavors.  Generous underwriters, caring volunteers, and talented artists worked together to create a memorable evening, with over $7,000 raised to support The Body Positive (visit TheBodyPositive.com).  The HEArt Show proved that Einstein was on to something when he shared that: “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”  All of the fundraising expertise combined couldn’t have reproduced the heart and soul that went into this extraordinary event.  We hope we have inspired you to become involved in next year’s show!

Sara Goldstein, Staff Writer