The great yoga vs meat conversation is rearing up again – this time, in a New York Times dining section article called “When Chocolate and Chakras Collide.” It’s a look at the “yoga and foodies” trend currently sweeping through NY City studios, pushing boundaries (and buttons) by serving up meals with meat and wine after yoga class. . It’s not a question of whether or not food belongs in the yoga studio, but whether bacon and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon belong there, and it brings up lots of sensitive issues around yogic eating habits and ethics.
Calling his mission “yoga for the Everyman,” [yoga teacher] David Romanelli, 36, plays Grateful Dead songs during class, wears sweat pants rather than spandex, and has already experimented with offering chocolate truffles after chaturanga instruction. “It’s a way of getting people in the door,” he said in an interview. “The world is a better place if people do yoga. And if they come because chocolate or wine is involved, I’m fine with it.”
The past decade has produced thousands of new foodies and new yogis, all interested in healthier bodies, clearer consciences and a greener planet. Inevitably, the overlap between the people who love to eat and the people who love to do eagle pose has grown. In 2007, a combination yoga studio and fine dining restaurant, Ubuntu, opened in Napa, Calif.
Yoga retreat centers now offer gourmet cooking classes and wine tastings; New York yogis trade tips about which nearby ashrams (Anand) and studios (Jivamukti) serve the best muffins.
But not everyone agrees that the lusty enjoyment of food and wine is compatible with yogic enlightenment. Yoga purists say that many foods — like wine and meat — are still off limits. Others, like Mr. Romanelli, say that anything goes, as long as it tastes good. The debate is exposing rich ores of resentment in the yoga world. [NY Times]
Dayna Macy, a managing editor at Yoga Journal, claims that the ethics and politics of food “is the hottest of all hot-button issues in yoga” (and we all know there are a lot of hot-button issues in yoga!). And it’s been coming up in public conversations quite a bit lately (as food, in general, has ~ and yoga, for that matter). Sadie Nardini wrote a provocative piece in the HuffPo last summer which brought forth a very irreverent and questioning stance. Even a new blog, Meat and Yoga, explores the relationship between two apparently contrary acts.
I have to admit that I fall into the ‘bacon and wine camp’ of yoga. I was vegetarian for 15 years – I stopped eating meat way before I started practicing yoga – and only recently reintroduced meat back into my diet on recommendation from my naturopath (and I never did stop drinking wine). My meat consumption is moderate, only 3 or 4 times a week, usually chicken or fish (or bacon, but that’s only on weekends ~ and ohman, am I ever happy to have bacon back in my life!) and I don’t eat red meat or processed meat.
It’s no wonder that I align myself with the “left-handed” path of Tantra, of all the different yoga traditions. What I find fascinating about this debate is that it’s such a collision between tradition and modernity. Where do you align yourself? Is enjoying a little meat and wine with compatible with yogic enlightenment? Have you ever felt judged for your eating habits? Let’s hear what you have to say!