Moderation in All Things As If You Didnt Know

But wait! Just because you now know which foods are best for you doesn't mean you should throw down this book, run to the kitchen, and start indulging. Calm down, you ra/as-natured ones. Don't plan your indulgent feast just yet, you tamas-natured folk. Cultivating sattva means more than shoveling in massive quantities of the "right" foods. It also involves a few principles of eating:

> Eat slowly. Chew each bite 50 times (or, if that's just too much to ask, start with 10 times and work your way up). Taste your food. Don't think about what you're going to eat next or what you need to do next. Give your meal some time. Give each bite some time.

> Eat with full attention to eating. That means no TV, no newspaper, and no trance-like gazing at the back of the cereal box, fascinating as it may be.

> Enjoy your food and savor the eating experience. Live in the moment of your meal!

> Don't eat too much. Try to leave the table with a little room left in your stomach.

> Don't eat too often. That means avoiding between-meal snacking, late-night binges, and 3:00 a.m. Dagwood sandwiches.

If food is too important to you, it will control you. If you have a food addiction, you already know what it's like to be controlled. Food is meant to keep you alive and to enhance your existence; food isn't meant to fill emotional voids.

Overindulgence taxes your body, and it's been suggested that regular and consistent undereating (not undernourishment—an important distinction) increases longevity. That means more time on this earth for practicing yoga, and more time to enjoy the improved you. Remember the old and familiar adage (did your parents ever tell you this?), "Moderation in All Things." This is a seriously important concept. Live moderately and you'll live well.

Sometimes the best way to let food work for you is to give your body a rest from food. Moderate eating is great, but sometimes even the moderate eater can benefit from a short juice fast. Occasional one-day juice fasts (nothing but fresh fruit and vegetable juice) are excellent system cleansers. However, fasting should not be overdone. Remember, moderation!

Another great and easy way to fast is to eat a healthy breakfast, a hearty lunch, and an early, light supper, then not to eat anything but juice and water after 5:00 p.m. (Some people prefer to fast after 3:00 p.m.—an effective weight-loss and system-cleansing tool if you don't mind skipping dinner.)

If you fast too often or for too long, or fast while only drinking water, you're committing violence on your own body (and that isn't following the yama of ahimsa, or nonviolence!). Before altering your diet or performing a fast, consult your physician or a licensed dietitian to come up with the best nutritional plan for your individual health and fitness needs.

If you do suffer from food addictions, breaking them can be extremely difficult. Maybe you can't even imagine shelving your life-sustaining coffee mug. Maybe you binge on cookies every weekend or are seemingly incapable of passing a fast-food restaurant without driving through for a double cheeseburger and fries.

If you have habitual tamasic tendencies (to food, cigarettes, caffeine, or whatever), we recommend The Complete Idiot's Guide to Breaking Bad Habits, Second Edition, by Suzanne LeVert and Gary McClain, Ph.D. (Alpha Books, 2001). Check it out!

Wise Yogi Tells Us

If you have habitual tamasic tendencies (to food, cigarettes, caffeine, or whatever), we recommend The Complete Idiot's Guide to Breaking Bad Habits, Second Edition, by Suzanne LeVert and Gary McClain, Ph.D. (Alpha Books, 2001). Check it out!

We have a nice little secret for you: You don't have to feel guilty. You don't have to deprive yourself (just yet!). All you have to do is practice all the other aspects of yoga: the postures, the breathing, the meditation. Here's where yoga works its magic. Yoga is transformative. It changes you. If you diligently practice it, within a few weeks or months, you'll be able to enjoy a cup of coffee without needing more or feeling addicted. Or maybe you won't want it at all. You won't feel the need for the caffeine. Fresh fruit will seem far more luscious than a bag of processed, store-bought cookies. And fast food will seem downright ... barbaric?

The point is, you don't really need to try to change your habits. You don't need to suffer and strive. If you're disciplined in the other areas of yoga, yoga will help you with the rest.

Yoga For Your Health

Yoga For Your Health

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