Lifestyle and nutrition are the primary support for the deeper work of Heartfull Meditation, and therefore are essential in Purna Yoga. Think of your inner truth as an esteemed guest; if you want your soul to show up, you have to get your place ready! You are already CONSTANTLY making choices about how you live and what you eat; with Purna Yoga lifestyle practices, you use these choices to prepare your outer life to receive your inner truth, not just to create physical health. You won't be doing triangle pose all the time, but you will be eating, living and needing energy all the time, which is why this category is such an important area in Purna Yoga.
Lifestyle and nutrition work in Purna Yoga essentially boils down to one inquiry:
Does what you take into your body and mind move you closer to your Truth, or farther away from it?
What you allow into your consciousness through your senses, and into your body through consumption, has a huge impact on your ability to find and follow your inner guidance. Things that rev up or numb out your nervous system dampen your relationship with your soul, because you can't feel its presence with enough sensitivity to be guided accurately. If you get your energy from stimulants like sugar, caffeine, and "thump thump thump" music, it's going to be harder to access the subtle urgings of your deepest self. If your calmness is dependent on "zoning out" in front of the tv or other numbing techniques, you aren't encouraging the sensitivity necessary for a communicative relationship with your truth.
In Purna Yoga, lifestyle and nutrition are ultimately individual matters (what works best for you?), but there are some basic principles. Here are just a few:
- There is no perfect diet for everyone. A diet should balance the person and not itself.
- What you put into your mind becomes your life. Make considered choices around reading, watching tv and movies, listening to music, etc.
- You absorb a lot of energy when you are in the outside world, most of which doesn't have your best interests at heart. Leave your shoes at your door, do your best to have "indoor clothes" you can change into, and wash your hands frequently.
- Always have something beautiful and uplifting in your living space.
- Wear uplifting colors that make your heart happy.
- Never skimp on food. Eat organic, non-GMO and local as much as possible.
- Be keenly aware of the difference between alleviating symptoms and true healing. You may use and be grateful for things that alleviate your symptoms, but remember they are just giving you the space to do the deeper work.
Personal example: A simple lifestyle change can make a big difference.
"Wow, your place is so peaceful!"
That's a frequent observation from friends when they visit. A major reason for the air of serenity is the practice of leaving the outside world at my door. I don't wear outside shoes in my house, I change into comfortable "indoor" clothing as soon as I get home, and I shower if I have been in contact with a lot of people (especially after teaching). Most people assume I am a hygiene freak, but it's not so much about physical cleanliness as energetic clarity. The more I cultivate a peaceful air in my home by removing the outer world's chaos, the deeper and faster I am restored when I am there, and the more clear my intuition. That's a big pay off for a very simple practice.