Monday, August 22, 2016

Ashtanga yoga and nutrition

When I started practicing yoga 37 years ago it was clear a yogi is a vegetarian. That's when I changed my meals. I became a vegetarian. That time back not so many people thought they could live without meat and sausages and fish. I was even told that I would get ill. I'm still healthy. I never liked meat or sausages neither fish so it was easy for me to make this transition. I discovered Indian dishes. It was the first time that I thought to eat is something joyful in live.

Ahimsa means living a life without hurting other creatures. Living a non-violent life is one of the few rules for yoginis.

In the meantime to eat vegetarian might not be enough anymore. When I first read about the production of milk I was shocked. It's so cruel. I don't want to get into detail here. We can survive without eating animal products. It's even healthier than the usual meat diet. Exceptions might exist.

I think the direction is clear. If it's possible to eat well without killing or exploit other creatures, this is the way.

The reasons are mainly ethical ones.

But is this enough?

I used to practice 2 and a half hour Ashtanga yoga every day for more than 2 years. So glad that I gave up this ineffective practice. In the afternoon I was so tired. I slept again. Often hours. My body needed incredible much sleep. Even though I didn't like this, but it seems as if Ashtanga yoga was the only activity I was able to perform. For anything else I had no more energy.

A few months back I used a fitbit armwrist. It measures the heart rate, counts the steps and so on. The accompanying software allows to enter the food that one has eaten during the day. That way I found out that I don't eat enough protein. This might have been a reason why I was so often so tired.

In most other sports the connection between nourishment and accomplishments are known.

With this post I want to draw the attention to this important aspect.

I practiced as mentioned already 2 and a half hours daily. Alone with this amount of time my practice was no more a hobby. Because of the injury of my sacroiliac joint I saw a physio therapist. She helped me a lot. I also appreciated the conversations with her. She said: Many amateurs practice more and longer than professionals, but they don't know that they have to relax as well. They have no treatments by physio therapists.  They don't get any advice what to eat and  so on. This is why injuries can be expected.

In order to have a healthy but also an effective practice nutrition is as important as the practice itself.

My meal planning:
1. Monday - lentils (Indian lentil soup, or a salad)
2. Tuesday - Tofu
3. Wednesday - Quinoa
4. Thursday - chickpeas
5. Friday - we usually eat out

Saturday and Sunday I'm flexible and I often try out new meals.

This is a list of ingredients with a lot of protein. How much protein does a body need? No more than your body weight. Otherwise the liver and kidneys are overloaded.

In order to build muscles the body needs protein. This is worth repeating. One of the reasons why I was not able to perform some asanas even though they were within my possibilities was because I was not strong enough. Additional strength training would have been good, but probably not enough, too. A nutrition with enough protein would have supported my endeavor to perform laghu vajrasana i.e. After 6 years of practice and not being able to come up from this pose requires for reflection: What went wrong? I guess I have to adjust my meals and I see the importance of strength training.
Life is an experiment, my yoga practice, too.

On my practice:
I practice, back pain returns, I interrupt my practice only to start again a few days later. Not to practice seems to be good, but it has disadvantages, too.  Quickly the body becomes weak and stiff. I got so weak. Incredible.
To do nothing for the rest of my life is not an alternative.

I focus on second series these days as it feels so much better. Yesterday's practice brought a highlight. I could do sun salutation B without back pain. It was such a joy.
This morning I practiced again. It was the first activity in the morning still before breakfast. I gave up rather early, but it counts as a practice. I was glad that I practiced in the morning.

I need a group of practitioners, but I don't want adjustments from people I don't know and who don't know me. M will be back in September then I'll join his morning sessions again......

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