Appetite for Yoga

By Rachel Payne

When I was first asked to write about yoga and nutrition for our BYPV blog, my first reaction was that of resistance.

Why, you may ask?  After all, that is what I am going to school for.   To honestly answer that question, I don’t know why I resisted.  Maybe because I am always bogged down with essays, and research papers and the thought of having to write ONE MORE THING purely nauseated me and sent me into a child-like rebellion (and straight to the kitchen).  Or perhaps it was because when it comes to nutrition and fitness, there are so many variables, and one size does not fit all, so I felt like it was going to take a lot of preparation on my part and that was stressing me out. Or maybe it is my ever increasing senior-itis, and I just don’t want to do it.  Whatever the reason, it’s insignificant. Ultimately I wanted to deliver something personal, and authentic.  I wanted to talk to you about a subject that I have a passion for, a topic that many can relate to, something that keeps me up late at night reading and meditating upon….something that is me and that is potentially you too.  After a lot of prayer and meditation, I felt led to guide you through this mini journey of my life….my yoga and my nutrition…but with a much different twist. If I reach but one of you, my mission is accomplished...deep breath...are you ready?  Or a more appropriate question, am I ready?

From as far back as I can remember I have had a poor relationship with food.  Through all the tragedies and circumstances this life has handed me, food was my comfort.  It never talked back, it never disrespected me, it never judged me, it never abused me, it was always there; it flooded my brain with all the feel-good chemicals that I needed in order to temporarily ease the pain of the moment.  And now as a 30 year old adult, my relationship with food is still poor.  It is a vicious cycle, stressful emotions lead me straight to the kitchen, followed by remorse and guilt, which then sends me back into the kitchen.  Many variables play into this aspect of my life.  It is not just one thing that keeps me a slave to the cookies, cake, pudding, and ice cream.  But the bottom line is, it is an addiction.  But unlike the addictions of sex, drugs, alcohol, gambling, exercise, (insert yours here), food cannot be taken away.  We need it to survive.   Thus continues my struggle to overcome, or mend my relationship with food.  I feel like my own prisoner sometimes, trapped in this body that I cannot seem to maintain.  I bust my tail in the gym 5-6 days per week, I do yoga, I eat clean, I hydrate, and I rarely-to-never eat out.  Yet I cannot maintain any amount of weight I lose on a permanent basis.  As a Dietitian to-be, and nutrition professional, this is a constant struggle.  I want to live authentically, practice what I preach.  Every day I battle this addiction.  Every day I am faced with emotions that are hard to handle, not to mention the ever expanding waist line due to my frequent binges.  I have always been one who tries to practice what I preach.  And it is ever imperative that I lead a lifestyle in which my future clients will look up to and respect.

This struggle and reality is what led me to yoga.  Every day I face myself in that mirror.  It doesn’t matter how far away I am from the mirror, from the front row to the back row, I cannot hide.  That mirror is MY accountability. Looking, loving, and accepting myself is the hardest feat.  To accept today, the now, and THIS body is all my body wants.  My 90 minute moving mediation is my “cure”.  Every day when I am faced with difficult emotions that unconsciously send me straight to the kitchen, I stop and breathe.  What would happen if in that moment I put into practice all the discipline and focus I demonstrate on that yoga mat?  What if I allow the emotions to arise, watch them as a spectator without judgment, just as we are instructed to do in our daily yoga practice?  Imagine, most of our suffering comes from resisting what is already there, particularly our feelings.  All any feeling wants is to be welcomed, touched, allowed. It wants attention. It wants kindness. If we treated our feelings with as much love as we treat our dog or our cat or our child, we'd feel as if we were living in heaven every day of our sweet life.  This is what my yoga has taught me.  Have I mastered this? Absolutely not.  Every single day I start over.  Some days are better than others, but what I do know is that I always have my yoga.  It calms me, teaches me, encourages me, and keeps me in that space of gratitude.  All our bodies want is love and acceptance, and from that space, we are overcomers and conquerors.  There will always be problems, so many problems, but if we stay grounded in our own presence, in our own “alrightness”, we can deal with them from a clear space that our yoga practice creates within us.  The more and more we love and accept ourselves exactly the way we are, the better and better we will get at EVERYTHING.  Such self-acceptance creates emotional freedom which inspires all of us to grow to our fullest potential.

Thank you for allowing me to share this with you. You all motivate, encourage and inspire me.  I am grateful.  I look forward to sharing with you again, perhaps next time on a more educational note about yoga and nutrition.