Yesterday, a former student of mine stopped me in the hallway at Willow Street and asked whether the “Yoga of Eating” workshop I will be leading on June 13th will cover Ayurveda. “I will mention it,” I said, “but I will not be teaching it.” I didn’t have time to explain further because I was about to lead class. As far as I got was to add that I was not sufficiently trained to teach it.
Ayurveda is a wonderful science, and I honor and respect my yoga friends and colleagues who study, practice, and teach Ayurvedic principles. Ayurveda is a much broader discipline than yoga, though, and is really medical practice rather than yoga. Asana are among the practices that might be recommended by an Ayurvedic practitioner for a client or patient, but eating in accordance with the Ayurvedic principles is not the same as bringing yoga to how we eat. For me, many of the principles of Ayurveda I have read or been taught are useful, but it has not resonated for me as a governing system, just as I do not believe in applying all of the principles of Western medicine to how I heal and nourish my body.
Bringing yoga to my eating, like bringing yoga to all of my life off the mat, is both simpler and harder than being taught a science such as Ayurveda with fairly clear, but quite complex, do’s and don’ts and then following them. For me, practicing the yoga of eating, is practicing conscious eating. It is practicing reverance and moderation. It is balancing nourishment and pleasure. It is knowing deeply when the will to eat is serving us or getting in our way. It is both simple and subtle. It is easy to say, but deeply challenging and sometime complicated to practice — just like practicing the Anusara yoga principles of alignment.