Bringing mindful awareness to what we do—how we eat, how we move, and how we spend our time can create greater appreciation of our day-to-day lives and also generate better health. Efforts to slow down and observe our surroundings can lay the groundwork for this mindful approach. As a new yoga practitioner, I’ve recently noticed how many techniques that bring stability and discovery on the mat are also useful in cultivating a healthy relationship with food. Read on for a few tips that may help you improve your eating habits through mindfulness even if you don’t practice yoga:
Start with you. Identify habits that have been holding you back.You need to be on your to-do list. Make your mental and physical health a priority.
Be consistent. Consistency and commitment are important components of establishing healthy habits. A yoga class once a month and a weeklong fad diet will not bring lasting benefits. Cultivate regular rituals and routines that support your overall well-being.
Close your eyes. Try closing your eyes when you eat. Focusing on flavor and the fullness of your stomach will help you know when it’s time to stop eating. Closing your eyes during yoga can help you experience fully the sensations how your body moves in each pose.
Explore the power of healing. Nutrition can play a part in restoring health. Food can repair and replenish your body cells just as yoga can treat and soothe your body and mind. When it comes to eating, try to practice mindfulness. Focus on how food feels in your mouth. Notice whether tastes are crispy, crunchy, salty, sweet, or spicy. By observing the texture, taste, and even temperature of food, this can keep you from overindulging.
Be patient. It takes time and patience to develop mindfulness. Learn from each small step along the way. Don’t fall victim to unrealistic standards or perfectionism. Treat yourself with loving self-awareness.
Find your focus. When you eat, just eat. When dining while doing other tasks, we pay more attention to the task than the food. The same applies to practicing yoga—if your mind is not centered you will have a hard time staying balanced. Turn off devices and be present.
Take your time. Savor every bite of food, especially if you’re watching your weight and your portions are limited. Put your fork down between bites. If you eat too quickly, you probably won’t realize you’re full until you are overfilled. The same applies to your practice: Don’t rush through your yoga routine or you’ll miss the benefit of connecting body, mind, and breath. Be in your body.
Build in balance. A good diet consists of a combination of lean protein, whole grain carbohydrates, and healthy fats. These nutrients—in proper proportion—will provide the energy you need. As with diet, physical activity needs to become an experience you enjoy, not something you endure.
It is never too late to establish harmonic routines that support a life of balance. If you apply these simple principles to your day, you can feel sustainable vitality and wellness. Don’t set dramatic goals. Start simply and, when in doubt, come back to the breath—the foundation of mindful awareness. When you build from the ground up, the structure is solid.