Intuitive Eating - A Yogic Perspective
Around Thanksgiving, we saw many Instagram posts promoting intuitive eating. While this is a concept we stand behind, we recognize intuitive eating is a lifelong practice. The simplification of this concept on Instagram can be harming and confusing to some who struggle with disordered eating. Here is a yogic reflection on what intuitive eating is and how to begin to eat intuitively.
In yoga, there is no hierarchy of asanas. The term modification makes it sound like one variation of a pose is better than the next. However, the advanced practitioner is not the one who can contort their body into the most complex poses, it is the one who listens to what their body needs in every moment of their practice. Intuitive eaters are much like advanced yogic practitioners. Rather than fixating on the extrinsic factors of eating, such as physical appearance and social context, they are in tune with when and what their body wants to eat. They honor their body and approach their health from a place of love. This idea is a new construct for the modern western world. Previously, we were immersed in diet culture, a belief system that is rooted in hate. Diet culture focuses on and values weight, shape, and size over wellbeing. While targeting women and perpetuating gender inequality, diet culture implies that you have to lose weight to be beautiful, healthy, and respectable. These absurd implications make us question how our society is rooted in such an unpleasant view of health. Luckly, with this paradigm shift in the way the western world thinks about health, we are seeing more and more individuals approach their health from a place of love rather than from a place of hate.
So what does this shift in mentality look like? The negative ramifications of diet culture ripple all the way down to each individual psyche. Everyone must begin the journey of hate to love at a personal level. We think a good place to start is to separate yourself from societal expectations of body image.
Yogic practitioners work for years to separate themselves from vritti - the egocentric, negative, jealous, and self-deprecating thoughts of the mind. They recognize that vrittis have no truth and are simply the product of being domesticated in a judgmental world. By taking the seat of the observer, yogis become separate from these thoughts rather than these thoughts becoming their identity.
From the second we are born we are told what beauty is, what health is, and which diet to follow to achieve these socially constructed standards. Vritti is the product of this domestication. It may sound like, “you are too skinny” or “too fat”, “you eat too much”, “you don't work out enough”, “you are ugly”. Yet as you move from a place of hate to a place of love, it is important you take the seat of the observer. Begin to note when these false statements, inevitably, enter your mind and remind yourself that they hold no truth. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes. What is most important is that you nurture your body with nutritious and delicious food. The human body is nothing less than extraordinary and your body is no exception. You are a thriving, breathing, magnificent human being.