Wine and Walnuts

A blog about eating, drinking, cooking and reading in the not so Deep South

Of Food and Judgment and Yoga



[picappgallerysingle id="289334"]Here’s something I’ve been asking myself lately:  how do I reconcile my love of excellent food, unhealthy though some of it may be, and my utter devotion to wine, with a clean, healthy lifestyle and the yoga I love?

As I’m thinking about this again today, two things give me pause:  I see Alicia Silverstone being interviewed about the amazing things a vegan diet has done for her skin, her weight, her energy level, and her overall well-being on all fronts.  (Apparently, even her bowel movements are cause for celebration, which frankly, skeezes me out to no end.) After the interview with Alicia, I thought, well, I for sure won’t become a vegan, no way, not even a vegetarian, but could I give up some meat, some dairy, some wine, in order to be healthier and feel more energetic?  Sure, that’s no problem.

Then in the New York Times Dining and Wine section today, an article called, “When Chocolate and Chakras Collide,” which  poses the question, “is the enjoyment of food and wine compatible with yogic enlightenment?” 

OK, maybe that’s too deep a topic for a simple little blog on food and wine, but the question knaws (is that a word?) at me.  And it’s not so much the question of great food and wine being compatible with enlightenment (which is a query for another day, and one deeper than I feel compelled to weigh in on), but rather, the judgment of some in the yoga community that it is most definitely not.  I get it, yoga perfectionist, and it’s all good if you want to achieve enlightenment, and you, yourself, do not wish to eat bacon or chocolate or drink wine or coffee, and so on.  But please, for the love of god, keep your judgment out of my yoga practice and off of my culinary debauchery. Honestly.

But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

See, there’s this trend, one of foodies and yogis coming together to enjoy a yoga session, followed by wine and food, or chocolate, or some other culinary delight, described in today’s article thusly: “first an hour of vigorous, sweaty yoga, then a multicourse dinner of pasta, red wine and chocolate. As soon as the lights went up, dinner was served on the floor: an (almost) seamless transition designed to allow the yogis to taste, smell and digest in a heightened state of awareness.”

This event was held at a place called Exhale Spa, and was the first in a series of something called “Yoga for Foodies” dreamed up by one David Romanelli, a yoga teacher who “plays Grateful Dead songs during class, wears sweat pants rather than spandex, and has . . . experimented with offering chocolate truffles after chaturanga instruction.”

I say “Yay, David!!”

But apparently some are saying, Whoa, Nelly, that’s not what yogis do. See, yoga purists hold that many foods, including wine and meat, are off limits.  And that is A-OK with me.  But I don’t have to practice that belief myself, and I don’t have to give up yoga if I don’t practice it, and I’m still a good, kind person, who happens to love yoga AND meat AND wine AND chocolate.  So sue me.

And so maybe I don’t get to achieve enlightenment, but damn if I don’t get to enjoy a helluva good slab ‘o steak from time to time.  (It occurs to me that enlightenment may be a better goal, and I’m going to do some serious thinking on this going forward.)

But here is where is gets a little bit ridiculous (from the NY Times article):

“Sometimes, even an all-vegan, organic, low-carbon-footprint diet is not pure enough: each vegetable must be grown in an atmosphere of positive energy. Steve Ross, an influential teacher in Los Angeles, says in his book ‘Happy Yoga; 7 Reasons Why There’s Nothing to Worry About’ that yogis must ask themselves this question in the produce section: ‘Are the farmers full of gratitude and love, and do they enjoy growing food, or are they angry and filled with hate for their job and all vegetables?’ ”

Um, seriously? How the heck does the average consumer in the produce aisle get access to that kind of information?

I think the best way is the “middle path,” as explained by yogi Mary Taylor in the article:  she follows a vegan diet but refrains from judging those who don’t, and asks, “If we become aggressive and intolerant towards those who do eat meat, is that an act of kindness?” Good question!

For much more on the argument and it’s combatants, check out the article here.

(Really, I just meant to do the usual Wednesday post, which is to say, highlight an interesting article on food and/or wine from the Times Dining and Wine section, but this is what I ended up with:  a smallish diatribe on yoga and judgment.  I’m off my soapbox now though, and your usual programming will resume.)

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About The Author

Kimberly Houston


2 Responses to “Of Food and Judgment and Yoga”

  1. Suzanne says:

    One of my favorite yoga expressions is that only what’s happening on your own mat is any of your business. In other words, if your personal practice embraces a vegan lifestyle, fine. If it doesn’t, that’s no one’s business. Your post doesn’t judge others for their choices, and, if folks are truly in the moment, they aren’t judging your choices either. We are all on our own individual paths to enlightenment and are all unique reflections of divine energy. Namaste.

  2. Suzanne,

    I love that expression — that only what’s happening on your own mat is any of your business! I try to embrace that philosophy daily in my own life, but I sometimes judge too. So I’ve got work to do, and that’s part of my path.
    Thanks so much for weighing in with such a wise and thoughtful comment. : )


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