Yamas and Food

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. I’ve started my yoga teacher training at Prana Yoga Studio in Edmonton and it’s consuming a lot of time. Add to that my daughter who just can’t seem to get her immune system in check, and it’s been a pretty busy month.

This past weekend, we covered 2 topics that fascinate me: the first 2 of the 8 limbs of yoga: The Yamas (or restraints) and the NiYamas (or observances). While we are learning philosophy of yoga, we talk about it both on and off the mat. The point of yoga is not to just go into different postures (asanas) and stretch, or to deepen your breath (pranayama), but to live your yoga off the mat.

So let’s talk about the yamas. More specifically, the first yama – ahimsa. In specific, this yama means non-violence. Obviously we can take that to me “don’t punch someone in the face” but what about deeper? What about treating all people and things with kindness? Acting with awareness through your day. What about not gossiping? Or watching your body language? And because I have allergic kids: What about treating children with allergies as though they are no different than you? That they deserve the same care and respect with regards to food as you would take in preparing food for your own children?

An extreme example, but would you serve raw chicken to dinner guests? Not likely. You’d know that there would be a significant risk that they would contract salmonella and become very ill. So why would you risk serving a celiac sufferer gluten? Or an allergic child something that “may contain” their allergen? That wouldn’t be practicing ahimsa.

To flip the coin, we food restricted people have to understand that while we have the right to safe food, we also have a responsibility to communicate in a loving way. We have a responsibility to bring food for our own children or ourselves if someone does not feel comfortable preparing food for us. We have to act with awareness towards others that they do not live in the same space as us; they do not have to be obsessive food label readers – and that’s okay! We can’t expect everyone to be as diligent as we are when it’s not something they do on a daily basis. We can use our words carefully to try to educate others, but we’re going to go a lot farther if we do it with gentless and understanding rather than come across as rude and ungrateful.

We need to practice ahimsa daily. We need to be aware of how we act, what we say, and what our words mean. It doesn’t mean we have to be silent; quite the opposite really. It means that we have to have a voice, but we have to use it wisely, and come from a place of mindfullness.

I believe that with this, we can make strides in the allergic world. Who knew yoga and food allergies would be so interconnected?