It comes as little to no surprise that generally speaking, people mindful enough to flirt with the principles of veganism are open to mindfulness as a whole. So even though practicing yoga and opting out of consuming animal derived products are not fundamentally linked, you can see where they coincide.
That’s why we’re happy to introduce our new columnist Nico Sarani, who is going to explore and address the intersection between yoga and veganism for Vegan Good Life starting today. For Nico, living (and teaching) between Berlin-Neukölln and Bali, yoga is more than just a physical practice. She looks at her practice as “a philosophical and practical system to build physical and mental self-awareness while nourishing the soul”. We’re sold and we hope you will be, too.
Photos_ Eric Mirbach
“Excuse me”, the hot yoga chick in front of me is saying while jumping off her little Scoopy, “do you know if this place serves vegan options?”
With my mouth full of delicious sweet potato chips I manage to give her a reassuring smile, while happily pointing at my favorite vegan go-to wrap in front of me. “And they have the best coconut cappuccino”, I whisper, giving her a wink as if this was some kind of insider secret (aah, bonding can be so easy sometimes).
Being vegan or at least vegetarian has become quite the norm in Bali, the Indonesian hippie-island that I am happy to call my home now. Yoga teachers (I’m one of those) from all over the world are raiding the place for the best health food options to feed their bodies and Instagram profiles.
Yoga teachers from all over
the world are raiding Bali
Vegan cafés are waiting for you at every corner, and even average pizza-places seem to have stepped up their salad-game big time in case a bunch of yoga addicts accidentally ends up at their, uhm, “cheesy” doorstep.
In case you find yourself in a post-yoga brunch situation as a meat-eater, I therefore wouldn’t recommend ordering the menu’s big meat-plate in front of your new bendy peeps, as you may risk facing a slightly raised eyebrow and losing tonight’s cacao-ceremony-invite.
But what’s the deal with yoga and veganism anyway? Well, let me tell you:
First of all, Ayurveda (the pretty legit Indian science of well being) is closely related to Yoga and, apart from a few exceptions, is all about you eating your veggies.
In Yoga and Ayurveda the aim is to get rid of any “impurities” within our body and mind that may hinder us from thriving in our sometimes crazy lives, and attaining awesome skills like levitating off our meditation cushions.
So eating meat is a tricky thing, considering the traumatic experiences animals are put through – experiences we take into our bodies when we consume meat. And the pesticides and antibiotics lingering in their cells probably won’t help the attainment of any physical or spiritual superpowers, either.
But there’s more. When we look at the Yoga Sutras, one of the ancient texts on yoga, author Patanjali clearly recommends the practice of ahimsa, usually translated as “non-violence”.
As ahimsa is part of the yamas (something like behavioral guidelines towards our lovely fellow beings), this would naturally apply not just to human beings but to our furry friends, as well. And by “non-violence” Patanjali means neither harming them physically nor mentally (not that your dog cared if you called him a “little wanker”, but your coworker probably would – you get the point).
So if we practice ahimsa, the yogis say we’re not only practicing compassion and thereby contribute to a more peaceful environment (think rainbows and butterflies) but also avoid any negative karmic consequences. And we kinda wanna get rid of those as yogic practitioners, because they keep us from shooting ourselves straight into Nirvana.
Aside from our food, though – can we practice ahimsa not just in terms of what we put into our bellies but also in terms of what we put on our skin, in our face, or into our living rooms? I’d say, hell yeah!
In fact, just recently I saw a video of a guy making a leather substitute out of mushrooms and even using these little guys to build a proper chair. It’s all right there on YouTube, just google it. By the way, mushrooms are also pretty easy to find here in Bali. Yogis tend to love these special guys – not so much as a valuable part of their vegan diet, but for their (quite literally) mind-blowing features. If anyone asks though, you didn’t get this from me.
Aaaaanyway, I’m looking forward to dive deeper and look more closely at the intersection between vegan mindful living and yoga – If you’ll have me. Until next time, can’t wait!