Finding Balance: A hello and a column about living simply

Yoga is about balance. 

It is the balance of mind and body, of inhalation and exhalation, and yes, even the balance of standing on one foot. On a even deeper level, yoga is the balance between the physical and the mental, the ethereal and the spiritual. Life itself is about finding balance. We must balance career and family, wants and needs, right and wrong ... we are forever in a balancing game.

As a yogini, I know that taking time to nurture myself is important, not only to honor the vehicle or body that I have been given, but also to keep myself happy and healthy so that I can, in turn, nurture my family and loved ones. It is through yoga that I stay balanced, grounded and rooted so that I can bloom, thus enabling me to share the gift of yoga with others.

I have always believed that if the universe opens a door, you better walk through it. In this monthly column look for stories about using the lessons of yoga and a holistic lifestyle to open those doors for you, to help plant those seeds for personal growth and development, and to help you bloom where you are planted.

I am a yoga teacher, yoga student, and owner of Dancing Dogs Yoga in Beaufort. When not on a yoga mat, I can often be found in a kayak or out running with my husband and one of my four dogs.

Our first discussion: How to eat like a yogi

While yoga is often associated with vegetarianism because of the concept of ahimsa, or non-violence towards all living things, there is perhaps a more important aspect to a eating like a yogi.  Ayurveda, literally “the science of longevity”,  is yoga’s sister science.  It is a holistic approach to health and wellness, and is a major part of the yogic diet.

Whether or not you make the personal decision to eat meat, you have to admit that it makes a great deal of sense that human beings were intended to eat whole, fresh, seasonal, and local food. In a time before truck crops and global shipping, people ate foods that they could grow or accept in trade.  The global economy has in many ways led us away from this basic human concept, and may be a contributing factor to many health issues that people face today. 

In addition to stressing the importance of fresh, whole, local foods, Ayurvedic medicine centers around balancing the three doshas: Vata, Kapha, and Pitta.  Every person has a dominant dosha, or essential energy, and each dosha is associated with a season. Each season itself brings new challenges to balancing our doshas, yet fresh, local foods provide the sustenance we need to bring our bodies into balance. Fall, the season of Vata, is cold, dry and light,  and is a time for warm, grounding foods such as root vegetables and stews.  Kapha, or winter, is cold and heavy, and is a good time for warm, dry and light foods, perhaps even spicy foods.  Summer, or the season of Pitta, is hot and sharp, and is time for whole, cooling foods, such as fresh local fruit.  In addition to eating fresh and whole seasonal  foods, we should also pay attention to foods for our personal dosha.  Don’t know your dosha??  Take the Chopra Quiz.

Once we have an idea of what foods are best for our Ayurvedic constitution, we have another modern hurdle in the yogic diet.  What can we do to combat the trucked in, pesticide-filled foods lining our supermarket shelves?

This yogi has an answer. In Beaufort, we are lucky to have access not only to local farms of St. Helena but also to Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA’s. I can only recommend what I’ve tried, and I would, without hesitation, direct anyone who loves fresh produce to Gruber CSA Farms. For $200 for a small share, Stanley Gruber delivers a big box of fresh, sustainable food to my neighborhood once a week for 12 weeks.  I spend less money that I would at the grocery store for foods that have not been sitting on a truck , and that are in season for my area.  What I don’t get in my CSA box, I fill in at either the Habersham Farmer’s Market or the Port Royal Farmer’s Market, and I buy my eggs fresh from Charity Holland at Eli’s Egg Basket.

Truth be told, the convenience of the grocery store is not convenient to our health.  By planning ahead and making a couple of well-planned trips to a local farm, Farmer’s Market, or CSA pick-up point, we can obtain all of the things we need to achieve a yogic diet, and in the process, keep our money local by supporting local farmers.  If you set the intention to eat locally, you’re contributing to your health, and the health of your local economy.  How balanced is that?