|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 247 ]
In modern culture little attention is paid to the process of eating or the settings within which one chooses to eat, or even the company with whom one shares their meal.
All of these things are important to the yogi. When the yogi eats, he/she does so in quite a particular manner, which serves many important functions for health and spiritual evolution.
The preparation of the food is of utmost importance to the yogi. In ideal circumstances, one would want to prepare one's own meal, making the act a mindful meditation -- singing or humming and otherwise keeping the mind filled with higher thoughts throughout the cooking process.
In this way, the yogi ensures that his/her food is clean, free from negativity, and infused with higher thought.
Before eating, the food is offered to God. This is a yogic custom whereby a special prayer or mantra is recited. You may already have a similar custom within your family or religion, whereby the food is blessed, or thanks given.
If not, you can simply take a moment inside of yourself, or aloud, to think about where your food comes from, and to give thanks to nature (God, the Divine, etc.) for having provided you with the food.
All of these are equally well and good, and a habit which one should make every effort to cultivate, for it prepares the mind and makes the process of eating a divine and sacred event, and not merely a task for satisfying our physical hunger.
Likewise, one should conclude their meal with another gesture or moment of appreciation and thanks.
In the same fashion, food should be eaten mindfully. Each and every bit of food and drink should be taken with a feeling of joy and appreciation. In this way, the yogi chews his/her food slowly and attentively, completely masticating each bite to the point where it hardly needs swallowing.
This is in stark contrast to the manner in which many people eat today, where the food hardly hits the teeth and tongue before it is gulped down the throat and another fork-full stuffed in! This 'hasty eating' habit leads to one of the greatest diseases in modern culture today, which is over-eating. Before the stomach has even registered that a sufficient quantity of food has been taken in to satisfy the body’s nutritional needs, an over-amount of food has already been piled into it.
Most people feel the effects of this about 10 or 15 minutes after a meal as a sensation of being stuffed. When one chews slowly and eats slower, the stomach is able to relay the message to the brain that it is no longer hungry once a sufficient amount of food is consumed. A considerable amount of obesity, much of which results from the disease of over-eating, can be combated entirely if people would just learn to slow down and chew their food!
All of these points revolve around the singular notion of approaching the ingestion of food as a blessed and sacred act...
NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.
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