... but it will put you off food that is bad for you. Just walk into any supermarket and see the shelves and shelves of crisps and fizzy drinks. And what about cereals? If weetabix was so healthy, why did they start making it with chocolate? Why do we need Weetos Chocolately Hoops? This is processed food. It is addictive food. Processed food has ingredients that you have never heard of coupled with some guff about added Vitamins, iron, etc. All stuff you can get from eating proper food (vegetables, fruit, meat, eggs, etc). If you want to find out why America (and hot on its heels, the UK) is feeding children rubbish, listen to this short radio programme bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0012s7z. The more we get addicted, the more difficult it is to refuse children the cheap chicken nuggets made from hoovered up bits of chicken hoovered from the chicken carcass once all the good stuff has gone. And it's no use saying people don't have time, when 4 hours a day scrolling on a mobile has become the norm. Isn't it time to stop letting the food industry make money out of our increasing addiction to processed food and fight back?
I was lucky enough to turn 60 and celebrate before the great lockdown. And although I am well aware of sagging jowls and skin, I am enjoying my age. In this world of Instagram, I am quite happy to go with the grey hair and wrinkles. And luckily for me, yoga is something to practise all your life. In fact, it is probably of most benefit to older folk. I recently read the obituary of Archie Young, a Scottish professor of geriatric medicine who spent his career proving through extensive research that old age is no reason not to be fit and healthy. Regular exercise (let's say yoga in this case) in old age prevents:
Disease—osteoporosis, non-insulin dependent diabetes, hypertension, ischaemic heart disease, stroke, anxiety, depression, colon cancer
Disability—caused by intermittent claudication, angina pectoris, heart failure asthma, chronic bronchitis, age related weakness
Problems—Arthritic pain, poor sleep, falls, fractures
Immobility—can cause faecal impaction, deep vein thrombosis, gravitational oedema
Isolation—can cause loneliness or depression or both
Which is why at my ripe old age, I love to teach other equally ripe students. Please get in touch with me if you fancy coming along.
What I love about yoga is how practical it is. The first step on a yoga journey is getting your body healthy. Obviously this means exercising, but it also means eating food that helps your body function at its best. Really, it's just common sense. In today's world we always need hard evidence. A recent global study (see below) acknowledges that a bad diet is the biggest killer in the world.
The analysis, in the Lancet, found that our daily diet is a bigger killer than smoking and is now involved in one in five deaths around the world.
Salt - whether in bread, soy sauce or processed meals - shortened the highest number of lives.
Researchers say this study is not about obesity, but "poor quality" diets damaging hearts and causing cancer. (BBC news).
Yogis don't need a global study, they know this from their ancient texts. Just look at what it says in the Taittiriya Upanishad:
'Food is the most important of all things
For the body; therefore it is the best
Medicine for all the body's ailments.'
Practising yoga regularly and diligently leads you to appreciate healthy, natural food that is your body's premium fuel.
Just by looking at the two faces you can tell where all the energy is going. But what a waste!
Both the quality and the quantity of life energy are determined by the intake of food, water and air, as well as by the elimination of waste products and by thought and emotion. Anger, jealousy or hatred actually create poisonous substances within every cell; whereas love, kindness and compassion have a healing, soothing and regenerating effect on the body. Day by day we build ourselves by what we eat and drink, by the air we breathe and by our mental processes. Contemplation on this can teach us that every day we have a choice: to build or destroy.
Dr Svami Purna – Yoga, A Practical Introduction published by Element Books
According to St Augustine (a very wise man), 'It is better to need less than to have more.' Gandhi (another very wise man) echoed this sentiment when he said, 'There is enough in the world for everyone's need; there is not enough for everyone's greed.' In other words by renouncing things you are freer to enjoy life. But it's difficult when society wants us to be consumers. We are led to believe it is the only way for wealth to be created. But increasingly the wealth is for the privileged few. The rest of us end up with credit card debt, wardrobes full of unworn clothes, fat bodies, a drink habit. The path of yoga involves controlling desires and reducing wants. This means deciding what you want out of life - not what the supermarkets, car dealers, holiday companies, mobile phone companies, betting companies make us believe.
The new year is always the time we want to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Unfortunately it often follows a period of over indulgence. So, be gentle with yourself. Be patient. Attending your first yoga class can be the first step into a whole new world. Do a little research into what yoga has to offer. And do get in touch if you have any questions. The trick is to keep going once you have taken that first step.
This year, as well as my usual Glasgow Life classes, I am teaching at the Phoenix Centre in Easterhouse with YoGlasgow! Our aim is to transform Glasgow into a yoga city.
And if you live in Anderston or nearby, come along to the Pyramid on Tuesday and Friday mornings from 9.15 to 10.15. This is a wonderful opportunity to weave yoga into the fabric of your week and community.
The new YogaScotland magazine is now out. Priced at only £3 it offers interesting articles, information and upcoming yoga events in Scotland. I will bring a few to sell at my classes over the next week or so.
Wherever I look, I see anxiety bubbling below the surface of society. The first way to tackle it is in action. Walking and deep breathing are first steps. Then it's time to tackle the mind. Adopt a mantram. Don't allow anxiety to seep into the nooks and crannies of your brain and take up residence.
I was looking through my address book today (yes, it is the Christmas card season) and found this quote from one of my dad's books - Prophet of a New Hindu Age. How true the words are.
'The stable, peaceful mind is the best cave. And so one can have inner stability and serenity while going out to perform the services of the world.'
For 2019, why not adopt your own personal mantram and start excavating your own personal cave by training your mind to be stable and peaceful. Once you have excavated it, no one can take it away.
That's our first week already over. What's so nice about community yoga is that people introduce themselves and we find out a little about their lives.
Do come along and join us next week. It is 9.15 to 10.15 on Tuesday and Friday. £2 per class or £3 for the week. If you want to find out a bit more, just text or call me on 0794 6294658.
The Pyramid is now a community centre in the heart of Anderston and they are keen to engage with the local residents.
On Tuesday and Fridays in the run up to Christmas I am teaching morning yoga classes from 9.15 to 10.15. The cost is £2 per class or £3 for both classes. Six classes for under a tenner can't be bad!
If you are new to yoga, come along and find out how yoga can help
The Pyramid, 759 Argyle Street, Glasgow, G3 8DS. If you have any questions, contact me through the website, or text me on 0794 6294658.
Caroline practises and teaches yoga in Glasgow Scotland and runs The Publishing Cupboard. She is the creator of the Nod off Series (where yoga meets grammar learning). If you want to get to grips with French, Spanish, Italian or Portuguese grammar, in a pain-free yogic way, visit www.nodoff.co.uk
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