In the last Yoga of Food post, we talked about how to use mindfulness as a way of listening to the body. In this third post, we're going to explore how to use that information to honor the body. Because listening and doing are two different things, right? Like when your well-meaning friend gives you unsolicited advice. You listen, nod politely, say thank you, and then do whatever you want to do.
In this case, your brain is the well meaning friend and your body is actually the wise one who knows what's best. It's just that our brains are really great at telling us how smart they are. But then again, look who's talking! Your body, on the other hand, is full of quiet, subtle wisdom that many of us have not been taught how to interpret, let alone trust!
In yoga, the class you choose, the shapes you make, and the degree of expression in each pose can be either externally motivated (by the teacher or the brain or peer pressure...) or can come from within. Choosing to listen to and honor your body's requests leads to greater nourishment. Once you honor the body, she (you) learns that her opinion matters, that her requests are valid, that you care what she thinks. And with each act of honoring her request, her voice becomes a bit louder, a bit clearer, a bit more confident. Over time, this leads to the ability to trust yourself, not just in yoga, but in life.
Sometimes you might be in child's pose while everyone else is in down dog (eyes on your own mat!). Maybe you skip a vinyasa. Or, maybe it means you really go for it in handstand (Brain: "In the middle of the room??? Are you nuts?" Body: "Yes, you've got this! You're a strong lady-boss!" Brain: "ohgodohgodohgod"). Whatever it means in that moment, in that pose, in that breath - listen and honor.
With food, we often eat regardless of hunger cues (eating when we're not hungry because, chocolate! Or, not eating when we are hungry because, deadlines!). We eat what we think we "should" (remember your fat-phobia phase which meant eating rubberized chicken and bland broccoli? Thank goodness it's ok to eat butter again!). Sometimes we eat foods that result in us feeling ill (ignoring a food sensitivity, mowing on potato chips, etc.).
So how do you know if it's your brain or your body? The more you listen, the more you'll know. The next time you sit down to a mindful meal, notice your hunger level, on a scale of 1-10. Check in with yourself throughout, and stop when you're at a comfy 6-7. (Brain: "But there's still food on the plate!!!" Body: "Yes, and it will be just as yummy when I bring it for lunch tomorrow!")