One of the reasons I got involved in Ayurveda is because of its connection to yoga -- I had thought it was an extension of yoga, but it's actually the other way around: yoga is an arm of Ayurveda.
I started yoga because I needed to get flexible and strong, having been unathletic and physically stiff most of my life. Bit by bit I am getting stronger (I can do a handstand!) and more flexible (my left foot can almost reach behind my head). But the yoga classes I used to go to too closely resembled aerobics. It got quietly self-competitive, everyone started wearing Lululemon, and it even got a bit clique-ish. Personally I didn't want to sweat and get muscle burn every time I went to a vinyasa class. And it was too easy to get obsessive and have it start becoming a body issue thing. I'm convinced that for many urban yogis, this practice is a massage of our vanity, or a perpetuation of our control issues and/or exercise abuse (if there's such a term).
Luckily I somehow came across Ayurveda, and it became so clear that this yoga craze is facile, superficial and misguided despite its feel-good reputation. And it wasn't just because of an article on a disco yoga fad in L.A. (No joke.) Learning that Ayurveda explains mind-body characteristics in a categorized way made me feel... understood. I realized there was a reason for my constitution -- why I had certain medical problems and digestive discomfort and stiffness in my joints and why I hated sweating and straining in over-exertive yoga classes. It all made sense, it was okay for me to be the way I was, and it didn't matter if I couldn't explain myself to someone, because I actually fit in the grand scheme of Nature. I could just go with my flow instead of fight my nature and try to change who I was. At the same time, I began to understand what really was an "imbalance" in my mind or body, and what I could do to feel better.
So, I stopped going to yoga classes and now set up my room every night and do the postures and movements that I need, not what Madonna does to get those muscles (I'm positive she's a Pitta anyway so it's easier for her to get so toned...). I try to focus a bit more than before on what yoga is doing for my spirit and my state of mind. Inevitably, every night I feel a thankfulness that springs from this ritual. I almost feel like I'm getting closer to finding my religion.
I find that my challenge is to try to pull away from the material details around us (does it really matter if I didn't mop the bathroom before guests came for dinner?) and open my mind to the big picture. And I really feel how challenging this is when it comes to food. I know how I should approach food, but in practice it's very complicated for me. Over Christmas I had on average 4 chocolate truffles a day. And some straight-up spoonfuls of peanut butter. And okay, at least one if not two fresh warm croissants. And fries, or take-out, or pizza -- and this is daily! For a party I had, I planned what pants to wear, and when it was time to get dressed, they did not fit -- not by a LONG SHOT. For the first time since my very disordered eating as a teen... I weighed myself. 15 pounds up, out of nowhere. And now I'm determined to lose weight.
And the challenge peaks: lose weight? Diet? That's as polluted a mind-set as doing yoga to look hot! I've tasted "thin-ish" for a year, and now hate myself for getting flabby and feeling tight in my pants. This is where I struggle, to stop the self-hatred. To still accept myself, not judge, not shake my head in shame and disappointment as I towel off after my morning shower. Even my new-found knowledge of Ayurveda and all its guidance feels at a discord with my will or action.
But, this is the load I've been given to bear. It's quite light compared to most I'm sure. Food is my addiction, and it stems from some mental, emotional, spiritual disharmony. So I struggle upward with my challenges. I'm not going to stop just because it's hard. (Yes, I do have a mild martyr complex but maybe it'll work in my favour in this case.) I've already discovered that I actually need much less food to feel satiated than I once thought -- about half as much, really. I've discovered that eating junk leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and eating greens and red lentils and spices makes me happy. Green chai in the morning doesn't make me crabby or headachey like coffee does. Sometimes I'm not hungry at lunch or dinner so I don't need to eat just because of the clock. But it's also become clear to me that, hungry or not, I won't stop eating until my plate, my husband's plate, and the serving plates, are empty and licked clean. That is a little psychotic part of me. But I think I'll overcome even this in time. I'm on a path. I need to discard the scabs and armour and uncover the true me, perhaps find a pre-body me that has existed for millenia in fragments around the universe before there were weight scales or nanaimo bars or addictions or social expectations.
It sounds like it would be a very free me.