Yoga and Eating Do Not Mix
An important preparation for Yoga is avoiding meals prior to the Yoga practice. Generally, we are encouraged to not have eaten 1-2 hours prior to performing Yoga and Breathing (Pranayama) exercises.
Having food in the digestive system can disrupt one’s overall practice. The digestive process requires energy. When food is in the digestive tract, the body requires a full flow of blood to these tissues to nourish the gastrointestinal cells that are processing food material. Energy is required for the contraction of gastrointestinal walls to move food through the system. Energy is required for absorption of nutrients and for the production of hormones, enzymes and other chemicals to manage digestion.
When we perform Yoga poses, these poses and transitions take energy away from the digestive system and, if food is in the digestive tract, this system becomes limited in its’ capacity to digest.
Another consideration of having food in your system while practicing Yoga, is the hydrostatic pressure that can occur. Food moving through the system is generally fluid in consistency. When one twists, bends, and compresses the torso, portions of the gastrointestinal tract can be pinched off (like a balloon filled with water). With further compression from the pose, the food can push outwards (hydrostatic pressure) against the lining of the tract. For some people who are already prone to digestive disorders like diverticulosis, this pressure on the tract linings can lead to damage of theses tissues or aggravate existing conditions.
For those wishing to use Yoga as part of their weight management program, eating before practice is counterproductive. By having an empty stomach, blood sugar levels are at low to moderate levels. Moving into a Yoga practice with an empty stomach allows one to tap more quickly into energy stores (muscles, liver, and body fat). Expending calories from fat stores happens more readily and efficiently. Eating before a practice floods the body and bloodstream with sugars requiring the body to first “burn off” blood sugar calories before accessing other stores. Important note: if you have health concerns like diabetes or hypoglycemia, you should consult a health professional to determine how eating should be approached with Yoga exercises so you can manage your blood sugar levels properly.
Beyond these health issues, other considerations with not eating before practice should be observed:
- food in the digestive system may cause nausea, bloating or gas during practice
- often one needs to go to the washroom while practicing if the digestive system is processing food, thus disrupting one’s practice and connection to the flow
- if practicing on an empty stomach makes the practice difficult (i.e. low energy), eat a small portion of easily-digestible food like apple sauce or yogurt 30-45 minutes before practice. This small amount of food will make its’ way through the system quickly and will not have adverse effects during the practice.
The Secret of Namaste
Namaste: I honor, respect, recognize and bow to the light in you and me.
This sacred gesture, used in many yoga practices, meditations and prayers, holds a secret wisdom. When the mind and senses bow to the Heart Chakra, the union between body and soul is achieved. The key, however, is to go deep into the Heart Chakra where the soul glows its life-giving presence, bringing breath and heartbeat to your body.
The Heart Chakra
Why does one need to go deep into the Heart Chakra, and how does one achieve this process? The reason for going deep into the Heart Chakra is to guide the senses that are controlled by the mind and also control the mind, into the Heart.
When the senses are only aware of the life around your body, the senses cannot be fully aware of your soul in the Heart Chakra. The senses must be withdrawn; in Yoga this is called “Pratyahara.”
By withdrawing the senses, your mind’s awareness turns inward. To withdraw the senses and still be in the mind is not pratyahara.
True pratyahara is withdrawing the senses from the outer story of separateness, into the inner Truth of oneness that glows in your heart.
Essence of Oneness
The experience of oneness is held in the Heart Chakra, not the mind. The feeling that reveals you are in oneness is pure love. Love not based on the material world image, but the pure true love between body and soul, creation and creator.
When the mind and its minion senses are gathered together and guided inward, the gifts of the senses are now in a different reality. This reality is called oneness, innerworld, intuition, soul, spirit, Divine, union, source, etc. The more focused the mind is in its ability to gather the senses, the deeper purity and truth of the experience of oneness — love. When the senses finally enter the Heart Chakra, the senses become calmer and more in your control.
The secret to this whole process of pratyahara, and going into the Heart Chakra requires humility. Humility is when the mind and the personality it created through senses (known as ego) have reached a willingness to change. The aspiration to transform and discover a new perspective of oneself and life is also the feeling of humility.
So how does one achieve pratyahara, humility and a focused mind, in order to discover what is inside the Heart Chakra?
New Technique for Accessing the Heart Chakra
A very special technique came to me in my mid-20s when I had reached a direction in my life where I was humbled and willing to change. This humility came forth due to the death of my parents in an aviation crash when I was a teenager and my sister’s murder shortly thereafter, resulting in my many illnesses and losing my will to live.
With these techniques, by bowing into the heart, I discovered the purpose for life and found self-love. The process of this technique begins with a beautiful feeling such as love. The ability to feel this feeling build in us is the presence of the Soul.
Remember, light is the image of love.
Mental Centering™ Technique by Savitri
Centering Mental Energy (1 ½ minutes)
Sit erect with your eyes closed. With the middle finger of each hand touching the front of each armpit, trace a horizontal line to the center of your chest. With the middle finger of your right hand touching your skin, you will feel a sensitive area on your sternum. Massage gently for a few minutes. This is your Heart Chakra, the doorway to your soul. Imagine light glowing lovingly in the Heart Chakra.
- With your eyes closed, place your hands with your fingers together, slightly cupped, on the right and left sides of your head, facing your ears. Your hands should be approximately 3 inches away from your head.
- Exhaling, move your hands together in Namaste, not more than 1 inch away from your face, with the tips of your thumbs at the same level as your eyebrows.
- Inhale. On the next exhalation move your hands down slowly to your Heart Chakra. As you do this, imagine your mind following a straight line in the center of your body and offer your mind to your heart.
- Say inwardly, “I offer my mind and senses to my loving soul within.”
- Do this technique 3 or more times and breathe slowly and peacefully.
Increases the power of Namaste, intuition, self-love, respect, and conscience bringing calmness to the mind and body as they discover the soul’s presence.
Notice at the end of this technique the hands end up in Namaste. This is the exact energetics of what happens to us when we say Namaste or bring our hands in prayer. The mind withdraws its ego perception of another and bows inside the Heart Chakra to the true perception the Soul-Light holds.
The mind now is awakened to the love and light that is in your body; this always recognizes the love and light in anyone or anything.
The first level of enlightenment is to keep this connection consistent. Namaste is the energetics and action of self respect and respect for others. Respect is one of the keys to the teachings of yoga. This union of self-respect between mind, body and soul, and respect for others, is the feeling of love. And through this love the soul can shine freely through your body and to others.
Let the secret gift of Namaste bless your yoga journey on and off the mat. Namaste.
© Copyright 2015 by Savitri, all content, all rights reserved. Heartfull Meditation™ and technique trademarked by Savitri.