Food is Medicine
When I started practicing yoga, I never realized how it would almost completely infiltrate my entire life and change it, for the better.
I first came to Yoga after reading Siddhartha in 9th grade. The first sentence said something about saying OM as you inhaled and I was hooked. I realize that isn’t typical behavior for a 14-year-old, but I also never liked cartoons and don’t remember ever really believing in Santa Claus. Aside from a sort of rebellion of my Catholic upbringing, I think I loved the idea of not having a supreme deity telling me what to do, but rather trying to find a supreme Self, the best Self I was able to be not so I could go to heaven, but because it felt inherently right.
So from reading Siddhartha, I bought a yoga videotape that I saw at Blockbuster starring Ali McGraw. (Yes, I realize I dated myself in many ways with that last sentence.) Little did I know that Ali McGraw’s instructor in the video was Erich Schiffman, who happened to be a big star in Yogaland. He taught me my first Sun Salutation, which I later taught to my classmates as a junior in high school to psyche out the senior girls we were about to play in the powderpuff football game. I guess the first yoga class I ever taught happened on that snowy Wednesday in 1996 when I led about 20 other girls through the strange movements of the sun salute.
I wish I could say I just kept on going from there with my yoga practice, but I can’t. College got in the way, (read: i stopped yoga to participate in drinking and eating). Thankfully, I found my way back by 2002 and for the last 10 years have dedicated my life to the practice. Which brings me to how I didn’t expect it to infiltrate my life.
I didn’t know that Yoga was much more than the physical practice we hear so many celebrities touting as the reason for their buff bodies. I had no idea that the physical practice, the asana practice, was really just a means to transform my life, to learn more about myself, to observe my true Self. Yes, I certainly felt stronger and lighter just by practicing almost every day. I loved the energy the practice gave me and I remember when I decided to give up all other forms of exercise that I dreaded and just commit myself to an asana practice.
But I don’t remember when or how this practice made me more conscious of my eating and drinking habits, nor can I pinpoint when it triggered the ability to notice when I was overreacting to a situation, which having 3 kids and a husband can happen often. This is not to say that I don’t still overeat or drink too much at times. And, of course, I still don’t always handle stressful situations in the best manner — I’m sure Tom can tell you stories. But I am able to observe and notice when these things happen. I can see my monkey mind working for what it is and, sometimes, I can refrain.
So, this blog is about the many ways yoga has changed and continues to change my life. It’s about what I observe about myself through my yoga practice, how the practice of yoga made me more mindful in the choices I make whether it concerns food, drink or behavior. Really, it’s about my ongoing yoga journey to try to be my best Self and the slip-ups I encounter along the way.
Kristin Olson, E-RYT 500 is the owner of HOME Yoga in Andover, Mass., and has been teaching yoga since 2007 when she graduated from the prestigious YogaWorks teacher training under world renowned yoga instructor Natasha Rizopoulos’ tutelage. She has had the unique opportunity to assist Rizopoulos with her 200-hour yoga teacher trainings since 2009 as well as assist her at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. The intelligence of Kristin’s teaching and practice has earned her a reputation of being a teacher with great command of alignment, anatomy and philosophy. She truly believes our asana practice is a place where we can learn more about our true Self and hopes to inspire others to look beyond the physical benefits of yoga.