Saturday, 12 September 2015

Chakra and Holistic Nutrition - An Ayurveda Exploration

I don't prescribe diets or subscribe to any particular mode of eating so please don't think this is going to be a "This is how to eat" post! It's just an introduction to the ideas around traditional Ayurvedic approach to the body and food and also to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) ideas on meridiens in the body and how certain areas and organs have emotional and spiritual significance.
In both traditions, there is a belief in food as both nourishment and medicine, with the capacity to heal physically and also to address cravings, restrictions and anxieties.

Teri Mosey wrote a fabulous introduction to the idea of Chakra Nutrition in Fitness Journal last year. This is what awakened my interest in the idea. I had already seen the popularity of ayurvedic consultations in Bali and read a little. I can't claim to be an expert at all! But if it gets you thinking and curious...I'd love to know if you visit a practitioner or even study or practice Ayurveda yourself!

According to Chinese philosophy, the universe is made up of two energetic forces: yin and yang. The interplay between these forces creates the five elements:
Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water.
A universal energy enters the human body through the crown of the head and becomes "prana" or "qi".

Along the spinal column, spinning vortexes receive and manifest this energy. Each vortex is a chakra with a defined role and relationship to the body.
While Wesern nutrition is very focused on the macronutrients and calories, the chakra nutrition approach is much more holistic and respects that food is more than a physical fuel. The colours, tastes and source of food have a physiological consequence and also an emotional and energetic one.
Practice forward head to knee bend (Janu Sirsasana) to connect physical movement with the primary, or Root Chakra

We can judge by our cravings or feelings what we are lacking, what needs attention, and how we are affected by the seasons, our emotional state and our physical world. Right now, it's the red chakra - or The Root Chakra - for me that is my primary focus. The root chakra is about balancing, grounding, needing a strong foundation. When it is blocked, the immune system suffers, there is overeating, rigid and anxious thinking, fearfulness and rigidity in routine.
According to Teri Mosey, foods that nourish and support the root chakra are rich in protein - primarily bone, blood and immune supportive nutrients. Root vegetables and red-coloured foods such as tomatoes, apples, beets and radishes are also ideal.

By no means do I suggest you base your entire diet and choices on your chakras. But this is a way to think about food as nourishment for the soul as well as the body. Perhaps it is a way for you to be more mindful of what you desire to eat and how you feel or function as a result.

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