Bite-sized chunks of yoga theory
Brighten your day, when the world looks weary.
Upanishads, Eight Limbs and the Gita,
Quotes to make your temper sweeter.
Foods that help improve your health,
And lessons about the Inner Self.
Come and check out ‘yoga prescribed’,
Truths enlighten when well imbibed.
And if you feel by blog is worth a look,
You might also enjoy my little book!
‘YOGA PRESCRIBED’ by Carole Kerton. (£6).
We learn from the Taittiriya upanishad: “Out of Brahman, who is the Self, came ether; out of ether, air; out of air, fire; out of fire, water; out of water, earth; out of earth, vegetation; out of vegetation, food; out of food, the body of man. The body of man, composed of the essence of food, is the physical sheath of the Self.
From food are born all creatures, which live upon food and after death return to food. Food is the chief of all things. It is therefore said to be medicine for all diseases of the body…From food are born all beings which, being born, grow by food. All beings feed upon food, and, when they die, food feeds upon them.”
There! We have come full circle…Food is medicine!
The second of the EIGHT LIMBS of YOGA is the NIYAMAS. These are the observances, the things that we should do to live a fulfilling, ethical life. The first of the Niyamas is SAUCHA, cleanliness. In the western world, we are very clean on the outside i.e showering, washing our clothes, hoovering our floors, but generally we are less concerned with the inside. Practises such as ‘neti’ or nasal cleansing are used by yogis. Tongue scraping is another favourite, and does really prevent some colds and infections. Eating nutritious, carefully chosen foods keeps our digestive tract clean and healthy. Many people nowadays are in to detox, which is helpful, focussing the mind an keeping the insides clean. Meditation is a powerful tool, used by all yogis, to clear and cleanse the mind. Yoga practice itself cleanses the energy channels and the aura.
There’s a lot to think about with this Niyama. We have been noticing the increase in rubbish thrown out of cars on the motorway. This is irresponsible and dirty. It goes against the Niyama, saucha. It is just as important to keep our neighbourhoods, our countries, our planet clean, as it is to keep ourselves clean! Dirt clutters the mind…
Now we come to the last of the wheels of energy. This seventh chakra is called SAHASRARA in Sanskrit. It means the thousand petalled lotus, its colour is violet (often white in classical texts) and some authorities say that it has no seed sound. Other authorities recommend using the sounds ‘So Ham’ to stimulate this wheel. So ham means ‘That I am’. It is the unconscious mantra that we repeat with each breath – so is the sound of the in-breath, and ham is the sound of the out-breath. So represents the cosmic consciousness , ham represents the individual consciousness.
The crown chakra connects us to a Higher Power, to Spirit World. It is all about our spirituality. In as much as we have stimulated and balanced our previous six chakras, then we are ready to open up to Sahasrara, which is located two inches above the crown of the head.
The prana that we gather through our connection with the Earth, with the Sun, with the food that we eat and the pure water that we drink, this prana is the fuel which runs the seven main chakras. In perfect health and well-being, the wheels spin freely and constantly, giving out energy and taking in energy.
The sixth wheel of energy is often referred to as the third eye. The brow chakra is known as AJNA in Sanskrit, which means to perceive. Its all about your intuition – think about that word for a moment. In…..tuition….(teaching from within.) This wheel of energy puts you in touch with your inner guru, or teacher. It is connected to the element of light, its colour is indigo (royal purple), and its seed sound is OM. Try turning your eyes upwards to the position of the third eye when you meditate.
Foods that might awaken the brow chakra include black grapes, blackcurrants, blackberries and black olives. However, listening to your intuition and working with awareness are the most effective ways to proceed. It’s rather lovely to create a PUJA, which is a ceremony or sacred place. Choose a peaceful corner in your home, and on a table or shelf place items which resonate with you at the time. If you wish to stimulate the brow chakra, have perhaps an indigo candle, some beautiful indigo tulips, a picture or photograph of a place where you have received insights and realisations.
Always source your food organically, and feel gratitude as you eat.
The fifth wheel of energy is situated at the throat and it’s concerned with communication. The Sanskrit name for this chakra is VISHUDHA, which means purification. This wheel develops between the ages of 7 and 12 years. Its colour is blue and its seed sound is HAM.
Vishudha awakens when we chant and when we repeat mantra. Folk with a healthy, well-balanced throat chakra have resonant voices, are good listeners and are articulate. Food to support the throat chakra could be blueberries, and surrounding yourself with blue candles, blue cushions etc will bring healing to this wheel. Do gaze up at the blue skies that we are enjoying at the moment! Free healing for all…
The heart chakra, ANAHATA, balances the other wheels of energy. It is in the centre, balancing out the three lower chakras which are concerned with our life in a physical body on this earth, and the three higher chakras which are concerned with our higher intelligence, our spirituality, and our connection to Spirit World. Anahata means unstruck sound, and it is connected to the element of air. Its colour is green (sometimes rose pink) and its seed sound is YAM.
The heart chakra is all about unconditional love. That is love without judgement towards all people, all creatures, all beings and, of course, ourselves. Taking a walk in nature is a great way of surrounding yourself with the green ray. Having an emerald green cushion behind you works really well, or a green candle beside you. Eating green fruit and vegetables brings in the green colour, too, which will stimulate the heart chakra. Try green apples, green peppers, gooseberries, cabbage, spinach and spring onions. There are so many green vegetables! Is nature trying to reconnect us to our hearts? To encourage us to be more heart-centred? To be big-hearted? Respect nature by buying natural, organic foods…
We’ve explored the idea that prana (life-force) fuels the seven main wheels of energy(chakras). It therefore follows that we want to use the best fuel possible for this purpose. Just as we would choose the correct fuel for the car, we want to select the best fuel for our energy body. Hence our interest in the values of individual foods – food is medicine. We gather good, wholesome prana from the foods that we eat and the water that we drink.
The third chakra is known as the solar plexus chakra or MANIPURA., (lustrous gem). It is connected to the element of fire and its seed sound is RAM. The colour of this wheel is yellow, and it is concerned with your will and self-empowerment. When this chakra is in perfect balance, you experience good self-esteem, confidence and a sense of you own personal power. Foods that would help Manipura would be lemons, sweetcorn, yellow peppers and bananas. Right now, we are surrounded by daffodils. These gorgeous flowers give an enormous boost to our feelings of get-up-and-go!
So, pranayama is the study of gathering, storing and wisely utilising prana or life-force. We gather prana from the air that we breathe, from the sun, the earth and from the food we eat and the water that we drink.
Prana fuels the wheels of energy known as ‘chakras’. We’ve already met the root chakra, Muladhara, so now lets meet the second wheel. This lies two inches above the base of the spine. It is called the sacral chakra, or Swadhistana. This wheel of energy is connected to the element of water. It is about the joy of living in a physical body; and about letting go. This is the chakra which awakens when you’re having real fun with with your yoga asana practice. It’s orange and its seed sound is VAM.
To find more joy in your life, eat orange foods. Try carrots, orange peppers and, of course, oranges! Do buy organic, but remember that eating rainbow foods is not just about the nutrients, it is also feeding you on the energy level!
On this ‘Yoga Prescribed’ blog, we have had a romp through a variety of foods which have medicinal value. Yoga teaches us to be aware; to listen to our bodies. The more in touch with the body that we become, the more we are able to read the signals. I develop a headache in a specific place if there is not enough oxygen in the room. I develop a headache in a different place if I am dehydrated. In both cases, the headaches disappear immediately once I have fixed the problem. Listen to your body.
Including a variety of foods in the diet will take care of your nutritional needs. Eat a rainbow of vegetables. If you are drawn to a certain fruit or vegetable, eat it. Your body is telling you what it needs at this moment. For instance, you might find that you are fancying carrots and oranges. Yes, you might need betacarotene and vitamin C, but on a more subtle level your sacral chakra could be out of balance. You might need more of the colour orange in your life. Listen to your body.
Always remember that the way you eat matters, too. Yoga teaches us about the three gunas. These are qualities or constituents of nature. Eating in a rush is rajasic. When you are busy, busy, busy, it is not an appropriate time to eat. Eating because you’re bored and indolent is tamasic. You’re feeding your emotions, not your body. However,eating when you are calm and balanced is sattvik. You have time to consider your food and what your body needs. You eat slowly and with appreciation. Listen to your energies…Listen to your body.
‘Food is medicine’ is an ancient Chinese proverb, and it is still so true today.