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Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, United States
Karen is a yogini, writer, student, teacher and meditator. She founded Garden Street School of Yoga in 2000. Karen lives with her husband Chris. They have two amazing sons, Eli and Leo (both of them young men).

Mar 12, 2010

Food & Practice

Today I've been working on preparing some teaching notes from Robert Svoboda's book Prakritti (all about diet and nutrition and Yogic lifestyle choices). I've also been working with notes I took at Robert Svoboda's workshop in November - pulling together some teaching notes for the meeting of the Advanced immersion next week.

In addition, this week I heard from a couple of students about a sort of re-activation of old eating issues and eating disorders that came about from reading the Prakritti book. I really get that!

So - while I've been preparing the teaching notes I've been contemplating things like the issues that come up around food and eating, the syndrome of being "Yogier than Thou," and the phenomenon of compare and despair.

Here is a
quote from Robert Svoboda: "All of us use food to affect our consciousness; most of us though prefer to perpetuate all our old idiosyncrasies and personality traits instead of improving them with a diet balanced according to individual constitution. We live in a fast world in which many of us try to run faster than the world forces us to. Once a person invests so much in his personality he feels he can no longer afford to change it, he will search for crutches to hep maintain his pace......"

All of the above has been percolating at the back of my mind. And up out of that percolating pot of contemplation arose the clear knowing that the best and surest and most reliable guiding light for reading information about Yogic Lifestyle and Ayurveda and "How to Eat" is to continually put the details of "what" and "how" and "how much" and "how often" on the back burner of your good kitchen stove. And on the front burner put the most important thing - practice. Steady practice will guide you into greater subtlety and greater subtlety is where you can make clear lifestyle choices that will support even greater subtlety and steadier practice.

Like Paul Muller Ortega says : More advanced is always more subtle.

But, as Robert Svoboda says: "Subtlety has gone out of fashion". We are kind of addicted to strong sensation - and coffee and spicy food and maximum intensity work-outs. Maybe people should opt instead for daily practice - really - daily asana and meditation. But I get it that until you can actually taste the subtle effect of daily practice - it's just boring - and you search around for something spicier. Once you catch that taste, it's all you want.

It is subtlety that saves us and ultimately informs us as to whether to eat meat or milk or honey or ghee or persimmons or nothing-ever-at-all or the whole-tamale-all-the-time. And the ONLY way to move into greater subtlety is through steady practice over time with devotion (abhayasa).

In high-school and part of college I was a walking eating disorder. This was the case in spite of the fact that I knew everything about diet and exercise. None of it saved me from myself. I found Yoga - or Yoga found me - and it began a sort of contest with the eating craziness. Yoga slowly pulled ahead. Through practice - gradually but inevitability - I was able to more consistently slide all the information about shoulds and shouldn'ts to the back of the stove and move PRACTICE to the front. The information became a servant to the practice - like mind in service to heart.

I continued to learn and study and know more everything than ever before about food and body. But it's like the garnish to the main course now - which is the subtle information I get from practice.