Am I any less a yogi if I eat meat? I’ve lost count the number of times people who know I’m a yoga teacher and practitioner assume, rather boldly, around meal times that I’m vegan or vegetarian.
The truth is, I don’t categorise myself as anything but some may call me a ‘flexitarian‘. I’ll generally only buy meat for my partner and his nine year old boy but I eat meat when my body feels pulled to it which is actually rare. However, if I’m at a great restaurant and there’s an irresistible morsel of meat that totally lights up my taste buds at first sight—I’ll have it.
Having said that–it depends at what stage you are with your practice, what your priorities are with it and how far you want to take the whole ‘purity’ of yoga thing. Many a yogi will abide to ahimsa which is the practice of non-violence–killing animals being one such an act. Other theories also state that eating meat inhibits us from achieving deep states of meditation.
I’m on the less rigid, more fluid approach because I think our bodies require different types of foods and different stages of our lives, yet I totally respect my friends who are vegan or vegetarian and don’t agree with harming animals. When you look into it—the way some animals are farmed is fairly devastating. My general rule of thumb when buying meat is:
Is it sustainable?
Take only what you need
Over consumption is not only harmful for our environment but a major cause of inflammation.
When I was doing my first teacher training in India I spent two months vegetarian and I’ll admit that it did, very much so, compliment my practice. I found my backbends and forward bends were deeper, I was generally more energised and clarity was at an all time high.
However, I think it’s combination of many things that can deepen the practice. For instance, in India I was under very little stress (which will obviously affect your nervous system and related muscular tension); spent zero time at desk (which is notorious for stiffness in neck, back and hips); ate only the purest, cleanest and whole foods available and prepared Ayurvedically; practiced twice a day in high temperatures which will always make the body feel more malleable.