Food for Thought: When Your Disciplines Become Dangerous

For those that practice yoga as a spiritual discipline (following the Yamas & Niyamas -- yoga's moral code of ethics) there are signs that you are evolving spiritually. As we become more disciplined in our practice, there is a trap of becoming judgemental, rigid, and even neurotic.  It happens to the best of us.  

One of the neuroses that is increasing in our age of healthy living, is being obsessed with being skinny, looking perfect and eating right. 

Skinny doesn't always equal healthy

A result of a regular Hatha and Pranayama practice is a healthier, body.  The purpose of making our body healthy is actually so the body stops being a distraction for the inner practices of yoga. It requires a lot of energy to focus on the inner workings of the mind.  Unfortunately we get sucked into the media trap thinking that we need to look a certain way or perform asanas to their maximum capacity to feel worthy as a yogi. 

AFFIRMATION: My body is beautiful, healthy and strong. My body does not determine my happiness. 

Healthy eating can turn into an eating disorder

Food can becomes a major issue for some yogis and fasting or kriya detoxes can be overdone, which cause significant harm to the body. A person can slowly turn a healthy eating habit into an eating disorder, a term called Orthorexia, which is defined as: an obsession with eating foods that are considered healthy. This can develop into Orthorexia Nervosa, which a medical condition in which the sufferer systematically avoids specific foods that they believe to be harmful. (Source: Google Dictionary)

There are definitely signs and symptoms to this neurosis which is important to list:

  • Feelings of guilt when deviating from strict diet guidelines
  • Increase in amount of time spent thinking about food
  • Regular advance planning of meals for the next day
  • Feelings of satisfaction, esteem, or spiritual fulfillment from eating “healthy”
  • Thinking critical thoughts about others who do not adhere to rigorous diets
  • Fear that eating away from home will make it impossible to comply with diet
  • Distancing from friends or family members who do not share similar views about food
  • Avoiding eating food bought or prepared by others
  • Worsening depression, mood swings or anxiety

(Source: Timerline Knolls Residential Treatment Centre)

If you or anyone you love has any of these symptoms, seek help. Peace and happiness are our ultimate goals. 

Increasingly so, I see more “yogis” causing more disruption to their peace of mind in the name of food (“I don’t eat this, and I don’t eat that), than I do regular people. I also see yogis shaming other yogis for their dietary habits. Truth is, we are all on the path towards becoming happy, healthy and peaceful human beings. Whether you eat meat or are a strict vegan, whether you still drink a glass of wine or are completely dry, we are all on our journey of evolution.