As a yoga teacher, I am asked many times if yoga will help make people more healthy. The answer is of course yes. And there are many reasons why yoga will help make you more healthy, and help you make healthier food choices. Here, we will start with just seven.
Seven may seem like an arbitrary number, but there are seven main chakras running down your central nervous system. When these seven chakras are open and functioning optimally, energy will rise up from your root chakra, up from your connection to the earth, up to your crown, opening your third eye and your spiritual centers. This energy is Kundalini energy and is every human’s birthright to experience.
Benefits of Yoga
Yoga has many benefits for the body, heart, and mind. By reconnecting us to the sensations of our body, and our internal energy systems, we learn to be conscious again of what our body is actually wanting to eat, rather than imposing our ideas from the outside. When you do yoga, you may start eating less, or you may start eating more.
Your body will start to tell you, very clearly and precisely, what it wants to eat. This is called “intuitive eating”. It may not be what you expected! Be gentle with your body, and listen to its demands – there may be nutrients it is craving you weren’t aware of. You may start liking food that you once disliked, or you may start preferring bitter food over sweet. Our bodies have a wisdom we can’t deny.
So let’s start with the root chakra and work our way up.
When we have an open and functioning root chakra, we feel connected to the Earth through our thighs and feet. We have lot of “zest” for life and vitality. We aren’t afraid of anything. When we feel fear, or insecurity (such as shame) our root chakra blocks.
How often have you walked barefoot lately? Or picked fresh leaves to eat? When you feel alive through your thighs and feet, you will feel naturally drawn to eating what grows wild and fresh in nature.
Opening the groin is a great way to get energy moving into your root chakra. You can practice squatting, or you can do the butterfly pose seated on the ground. Of course, standing in Tadasana, and being conscious of earth energy as it moves into your feet, or Tree pose with your foot bent across your thigh, will also help.
Our Abdominal Chakra, the emotional center
You may have heard of the “Dantien” in the Chinese Tao tradition, which is known as the cauldron of energy. This corresponds to the second chakra in the Indian tradition. It is connected to our emotions.
When our emotions are unsteady, we are drawn to making unwise food choices. We have “cravings” we want to feel filled. Mostly these are cravings for love and attention, and not for food.
When our second chakra is blocked, we will often have lower back problems and pelvic imbalances and cramps. When we feel loved, and a sense of belonging to our family and community, our second chakra will be open and clear.
Sitting all day can cause blockages in the second chakra. Sitting shortens our hamstrings. So a good pose for getting energy into the second chakra, is to practice touching your toes. Bend over, and fold your hands behind the head. You can also do this sitting, with a bolster for support.
A basic triangle pose will also help move energy into your first and second chakras. Any hip openers will also help.
Stomach Chakra, our thought center
We have many thousands of thoughts in a day. Have you ever paid attention to their quality? Are they positive thoughts? Negative thoughts? How many are based in worry, anxiety, and a need for planning?
We really don’t need to have as many thoughts as we do in a day. By thinking so much is how many people develop stomach ulcers. You are so busy thinking, you aren’t taking the time to prepare fresh meals that are right for you.
When you think less, you will create more space in your life for inspiration. Twists are very good for getting energy moving again in the third chakra. Sit in your chair, and twist to face the back on each side. Or lie on the ground, bending your knees, and twist from one side to another.
Creating space in your mind, you will feel refreshed, and as if you have enough time to go and make a healthy fresh meal for yourself, such as a salad.
Our heart chakras can get very hot during yoga practice, especially when our Kundalini is activated. Everyone loves chocolate, and chocolate gives us a warm feeling in our hearts, like an open heart center.
Back bends and opening the thoracic are very good for the heart chakra – you want to keep your ribs open. When these are closed, we are not open to the receiving the love others offer us (such as through compliments, or acts of generosity) nor are we good at giving love. Of course, some of us are good in giving love, and not receiving it, and vice versa.
When your heart chakra is open, you will make more loving food choices for yourself. You will treat yourself in healthy ways, such as with raw vegan slices. You will not skimp on yourself because you will be open to giving yourself love.
Throat Chakra, our divine connection
We each have a divine path of inspiration calling us that is greater than our own life, greater than ourselves. When our throat chakra is open, we feel that pull.
We will not only start making healthy food choices for ourselves, but we will work towards producing healthy food options for our community – such as Community Supported Agriculture, School Kitchen Gardens, and Organic Co-ops. The options are unlimited.
Drink plenty of fresh, clean water to open your throat chakra. Bend you head back, and poke out your tongue, as if you were licking the ceiling.
This is where we experience the realizations of our intuition and our sixth sense. It is not just the pineal gland in the brain, but the functioning of the entire brain as one – not divided into male or female sides, and not dominated by the needs of flesh or the cravings of spirit.
Our aim here is to experience a balance of consciousness called equanimity. Yoga is very good for this in all ways because we learn to become comfortable with the uncomfortable, and not make demands for what is not.
When your third eye is open, you will not rush to fill your mouth and stomach even though you are hungry. You will sit and watch your sensations of hunger patiently. You know you don’t need food to live, you know your spirit is eternal.
You will feed others before you feed yourself. You will be inspired to work with food creatively, knowing that each morsel that you eat is sacred and fulfilling a divine function.
Many poses have the third eye as their point of focus, their “drishti.” But ultimately all yoga poses further the opening of the third eye.
Our crown chakra is a very beautiful chakra. When it is open and alive, we are seen with a halo around our head, with our spiritual eye. You will see that there are many kings and queens walking among us.
Inversions are very good for the crown chakra. These include shoulder stands and headstands. Very good supports are available for headstands, now, if this is within your capacity. Practice if you need against a wall.
When our crown chakra is open, and our other chakras are open, Kundalini energy will flow up from our tailbones to our crowns and circulate again. You will simply need less food when this is the case because you are deeply and intimately connected with your life energy and All That Is. There is no greater high than an alive and functioning Kundalini system.
Meet The Author:
Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur, and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, Yoganonymous, OMtimes, and others. She is among top 20 Yoga bloggers as reviewed by ThoroughlyReviewed. She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga International, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, Goa and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali).