Back when I used to drive a car, I could never keep up with what I needed to do to it for maintenance. I knew I had to change oil, tune up, check the air and water, and all that, but I was so bad at it that the car constantly broke down. I decided to just give up the car and use mostly my own legs to get from point a to point b. That is what our body is for anyway, it is a vehicle to get from point a to point b, and I don't just mean from our house to the yoga studio. According to yoga philosophy, this body is a vehicle that will take us from here to enlightenment.
Many of us are already inclined to take care of this vehicle we call a body. After all, we take this physical body, called the annamayakosha in Sanskrit, to yoga class. While yoga asana or the physical exercises of yoga are great, there is another factor in taking care of this body that we often forget about. It is the food that we eat. We are what we eat. What we eat affects our health, our energy levels, our emotions, our mental alertness, and even our sense of contentment.
If we choose to eat a plant-based vegan diet, we ingest fruits and vegetables that were nourished with sun and water, and hopefully no pesticides. If we eat animals and animal products such as meat, fish, dairy, eggs and honey, we endanger our health. Many degenerative diseases like type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and many types of cancer are associated with consumption of animal products. You can read more about it from the book The China Study. Furthermore, if we put living beings who had to experience fear and suffering into our bodies, we ingest that fear and suffering energetically too. If we want to use this body in an efficient way, to take care of it to minimize diseases, then we consider both the exercises of yoga and the diet of yoga- not just one or the other, but both at the same time.
There is a flip side to this maintenance though. We may have a tendency to take care of the physical body but forget that it is only a vehicle. It is like giving a car a good paint job, accessories, all the bells and whistles, but then choosing to park it in the garage, only for show, and not taking us anywhere. We need to be mindful that our yoga asana practice does not become a spectator sport where we only show things off. If we want enlightenment, then we always keep it in our consciousness that we are using this body as a vehicle to serve the missions of kindness and compassion in the world.
As we practice yoga consistently, may we always feel gratitude for the physical body we have been given. And may we open our hearts and minds to the possibility of becoming a vegan to be kinder to our own body, to be kinder to other beings, and to be kinder to all of nature.
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.