The Nadis and Your Gut Feeling

koshas1During his discussions of the effects of a Second Series practice, and in his workshop discussions of the “subtle body,” Tim Miller is fond of pointing out that we’re not talking about something that exists in the empirical world. “If I cut you open,” he says, “and dissect you, will I be able to find your nadis? No.”

The Second Series of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is named “nadi shodhana”—often translated as “nerve cleansing.” The “nerves” we’re talking about, though, are the invisible channels that are part of the body of prana, one of the five koshas. The nadis channel prana in that particular body. So the purpose of the Second Series of Ashtanga is to clear these channels in order to make prana flow more freely, and so in turn to allow the practitioner a way to access the less. . .gross aspects of yoga practice.

Gross. I mean, of course, “physical.” Tim’s way of explaining the intersections of the nadis up the central channel—the chakras—often involve very physical explanations, stories, in fact. Such as the journey of Ram down the nerve channel to rescue Sita and return to a state of unity in the seventh chakra, sahasrara, that resides just above the physical head. It’s wonderful to hear this story—the story of the Ramayana—retold as the story of the quest for unity in individual, in the self. He expands and elaborates: It’s also the desire for Siva to be united with the creative force, Shakti. Stasis and energy in balance. A great story.

The first chakra is, of course, muladhara, the root. Way down there. And so by extension, Sita’s journey involves traveling through some nether regions of the gut.

So my ears perked up when, listening to National Public Radio last week, I heard that scientist have found evidence that the microbes in our gut talk to our brain and can drastically effect how we think, even our sense of well-being.

Bet you didn’t see that coming. Gross!

But yes, that’s what they’ve found. I’ve been around long enough to remember when you first started hearing talk of what are now known as “probiotics.” The newer round of research in this area has discovered that microbes found in the human gut can be sorted into kinds, can indicate the kind of diet a person eats, can cure diseases in the form of a microbe transplant (yes, exactly what you’re thinking it might involve), and that our microbes communicate with our brains. From the NPR story:

I’m always by profession a skeptic,” says Dr. Emeran Mayer, a professor of medicine and psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles. “But I do believe that our gut microbes affect what goes on in our brains.

They’re calling this interior, invisible landscape “the human microbiome.” The study found that mice that were fed probiotics got, well, happier. Which led them to wonder, how were the microbes communicating with the brain?

A big nerve known as the vagus nerve, which runs all the way from the brain to the abdomen, was a prime suspect. And when researchers in Ireland cut the vagus nerve in mice, they no longer saw the brain respond to changes in the gut.

The vagus nerve is the highway of communication between what’s going on in the gut and what’s going on in the brain,” says John Cryan of the University College Cork in Ireland, who has collaborated with Collins.

Gut microbes may also communicate with the brain in other ways, scientists say, by modulating the immune system or by producing their own versions of neurotransmitters.

So all this got me wondering about the kinds of stories we tell about the practice, mystic, poetic, and scientific. And of the journey that begins with the physical practice of vinyasa, which leads to diet changes and to a sense of well-being and thoughtfulness—and, yes, to an awareness of prana and its journey up the sushumna nadi, and how the practice can make the ways straight.

Posted by Bobbie

You may love your coconut water to a dangerous, unsustainable degree

We all love our coconut water.

It turns out, maybe we love it too much.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the main sources of coconut water — coconut trees, if you were at all confused — in the Asia-Pacific region are getting too old to keep up with the expanding demand. From the release:

“Nearly 90 percent of the world’s coconuts and other products derived from coconut trees originate in this region, but the sector has problems and requires rehabilitation,” said Hiroyuki Konuma, FAO’s Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Asia and the Pacific, following the opening session. “There is a need for replanting and rehabilitation of coconut trees,” Konuma said, pointing out that many of the coconut trees alive today were planted 50 – 60 years ago following the end of World War Two and therefore well past their most productive years.

[snip]

The Asia-Pacific region is by far the largest producer and exporter of coconut products. The sector is vital to the economies of many countries, particularly smaller, island states. The largest producer for domestic consumption, India, harvests some 16 billion coconuts annually from nearly 2 million hectares. Indonesia and the Philippines produce 16 billion and 15 billion coconuts respectively for both domestic and export markets. “Livelihoods of one in every five Filipinos is directly or indirectly dependent on the coconut sector,” said Romulo Arancon, a meeting organizer and Executive Director of the Asian and Pacific Coconut Community.

About two years ago, there were some warnings about coconut water shortages, but that was due to harvest problems with a specific year’s crop in Thailand. This warning is broader and potentially more fundamental. Think about it this way: If suddenly the world was mostly populated by people older than 50, there would be a crisis in making babies.

Substitute in “young coconuts” for “young children.”

As the release notes, this isn’t just about whether an Ashtangi in, say, Kansas City, Mo. can get some coconut water. It also is potentially disastrous for the local economies that have grown to rely on this crop.

Just, er… food (or drink) for thought.

Posted by Steve

Yogi Diet: This is Your Brain on Wheat

Well, maybe not. Via wholegrainscouncil.org.
Well, maybe not. Via wholegrainscouncil.org.

We’ve written before on this site about diet. Quite a lot about it, actually—including eating raw, giving up wheat, eating mostly raw, continuing to give up wheat, etc. We’ve also talked about the stages of a yogi diet.

I’ve got a friend who’s just started Ashtanga. He said to me, “I don’t like beer anymore.” Long pause. “I can’t believe I just said that.”

Now, understand, we’re not nutritionists. We’re not doctors. And we’re not purists. It’s been a long, slow process. Steve lagged a few years behind me in big, weird, transformative diet changes…mostly because he took longer to fully commit to yoga. Funny how that works.

But, I have taught a research course on food, and done the research legwork on the evils of wheat. Note: Not “gluten.” Wheat. My conclusion at the end of that course was that we have really taken a wrong turn as a species by modernizing wheat and pushing “whole grain” as a healthy choice. (Just so you know, no whole grain wheat anything is actually whole grain—it’s white flour with the rest of the grain added after processing.)

We travel about in the world touting this philosophy, and everywhere we go we meet with the same extremely high level of disbelief. Denial. It’s almost like people go deaf. It just seems so counter intuitive and wrong. And impossible to fix without massive diet changes.

So a new book written by neurologist and nutritionist, Dr. David Perlmutter, caught my eye, appropriately titled Grain Brain. It’s specifically about the effect of the commonly-held belief that a whole grain, low fat diet is good for you. This review in the Psychology Today blog “The Optimalist” includes a very interesting interview with the author by Michael Lugavere. In that interview, Perlmutter says this:

So-called “complex carbs” may actually represent a more significant threat to health than simple sugar in that they may not only raise blood sugar, but keep it elevated for a more prolonged period of time. Foods can be evaluated by their glycemic index which measures not only how high blood sugar will be elevated by the consumption of a particular food, but also takes into account how long it will have this effect. So the higher the glycemic index, the more damaging are the effects of elevated blood sugar. Whole grain bread for example has a dramatically higher glycemic index when compared to pure table sugar.

Now, we’ve followed a trajectory of authors who have said this, starting with Michael Pollan (years ago), to Dr. William Davis in his book Wheat Belly. Pollan has been writing about the effects of a processed diet for years now, and has included what he considers a kind of fat phobia that most of us were raised with: Pollan has called this one of the biggest lies in dietary science, that all fat is bad.

Davis wrote about the history of modern wheat, and the debilitating effects on the entire system that are all caused by eating wheat—whole grain or not.

In his book, Dr. Perlmutter connects this set of related issues—low fat and whole grain, carbs and sugar—and focuses specifically on the effects on the brain and nervous system, with the cardiovascular system coming along for the ride.

This is because there is a strong link between high glycemic foods and cholesterol levels and dementia. But it’s not what you think: Elderly study subjects with higher LDL cholesterol levels “may have as much as a 70% risk reduction for dementia.”

See? You’re already fading. You already find this hard to believe.

This represents a kind of vindication of the diet changes that have slowly evolved in our house. We still don’t eat wheat—we now both get side effects from it. But we will eat eggs. Sometimes, we’ll even eat meat. We use a lot of coconut oil and olive oil. It’s odd the way sugar in all forms dropped away. We stopped not just eating fruit. We actually don’t like it. It’s made me wonder how those mind-body connections get formed, and what blunts or stunts them. And how it is that Ashtanga has made them so strong. We’re a walking poster couple for this diet. Still don’t believe? Or maybe that it’s just paranoia or a fad? Says Perlmutter:

In writing Grain Brain, I reviewed more than 250 peer-reviewed references, many of which specifically address this issue and are discussed in great detail. Gluten free isn’t new or a fad. It’s the diet that humans have consumed for more than 99.9% of our existence on this planet. I would direct your readers to recent publication by my friend and colleague Dr. Alessio Fasano from Harvard. I welcome the hysteria as it is directing attention to an absolutely fundamental issue in our modern nutrition.

Posted by Bobbie

Yogi diet: This corny tale shows why your food isn’t as good for you anymore

The fundamental piece of information we’ve tried to pass along about wheat is: It got altered during the past century and it just isn’t as good for you anymore.

The corn in question, via NPR and courtesy to them of Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture

It turns out, not surprisingly, the same goes for corn. But there are alternatives, as NPR detailed on Thursday:

The handwritten note explained that the corn was an heirloom variety called New England Eight Row Flint (or Otto File, by its Italian name), and that it was a taste that was nearly lost to history.

Native Americans cultivated this variety hundreds of years ago. The corn caught on with settlers in New England because it was hearty and nutritious.

The heirloom corn variety has only eight rows of kernels and hence, its name: New England Eight Row Flint.

Then, in the 19th century, the grain was exported to Italy, where it was prized as a stunningly flavorful polenta corn.

But farmers quit growing it. As with wheat, the problem — maybe issue is a better word — was a competing set of needs when it came to food. And the winner in that competition was growing more corn (for a combination of reasons that were probably both well intentioned and selfish):

So why did farmers stop growing this corn? For everything that New England Eight Row Flint corn has going for it in terms of flavor, its big downside is that it doesn’t produce many cobs. It’s a low-yield corn.

“That’s why farmers moved to higher-yield [varieties],” explains Algiere. “They can get more corn per acre at lower quality.” Farmers produce for bulk because they’re paid by the bushel, not by the color or the flavor.

Here’s what was lost: “The vibrancy of this yellowish-orange pigment is indicative of high concentrations of beneficial phytonutrients called carotenoids, which make this corn appealing for its nutritional value. And it’s also fairly high in protein.”

Eating healthy this way, with heirloom grains and vegetables, is a luxury, still. Will it ever be otherwise is a question.

Posted by Steve

 

New study: Too much coffee kills!

I’ll say not surprisingly lots of people are pushing back on this study.

Because, contrary to most of the recent research, this one finds too much coffee consumption is dangerous. More specifically, it found that men younger than 55 who drank more than four cups of coffee per day were 56% more likely to die from any cause (I assume except for falling asleep at the wheel) than other men. Women younger than 55 were twice as likely to die compared to less-coffee-intense women.

The study covered almost 44,000 people ages 20-87 during a time period of 1971 to 2002. It came out on Thursday.

This set of new findings runs almost exactly counter to other recent piece, which we’ve featured here. Most notable was the study of people ages 50 to 71, the men who drank two or three cups of coffee a day were 10% less likely to have died than those who didn’t drink coffee. The women in the study drinking that same number of cups dropped their risk of dying by 13%.

There’s a lot of hand-wringing, if you read reports on this new study. But, not that I’m a scientist, but isn’t the difference the age of the people who are helped or hurt?

I rarely go above four cups per day, so I’m not worrying.

Posted by Steve

Sugar may make you flexible, but study outlines serious health risks

“Sugar makes you flexible” is one of those semi-sourced Ashtanga phrases that I would guess most serious practitioners have heard in one form or another, attributed to one teacher or another. (That includes to Guruji, himself.)

I also would guess it comes as no surprise that sugar isn’t exactly good for you. Now there’s a new study that suggests that the levels of added sugar in the average human diet (and probably especially the Western and U.S. ones) is pretty bad for you.

“Sugar is Toxic to Mice in ‘Safe’ Doses” is the cut and dry title of the University of Utah press release announcing the study:

When mice ate a diet of 25 percent extra sugar – the mouse equivalent of a healthy human diet plus three cans of soda daily – females died at twice the normal rate and males were a quarter less likely to hold territory and reproduce, according to a toxicity test developed at the University of Utah.

“Our results provide evidence that added sugar consumed at concentrations currently considered safe exerts dramatic adverse impacts on mammalian health,” the researchers say in a study set for online publication Tuesday, Aug. 13 in the journal Nature Communications.

“This demonstrates the adverse effects of added sugars at human-relevant levels,” says University of Utah biology professor Wayne Potts, the study’s senior author. He says previous studies using other tests fed mice large doses of sugar disproportionate to the amount people consume in sweetened beverages, baked goods and candy.

You get the key thing here, right? Rather than seeing if you fed mice a diet of basically candy bars, this study try to match, more or less, how we all eat. (Well, not we all, because we all eat too healthy, another thing I hate about Ashtanga.) Here’s a bit more on this aspect of the study:

Potts says the National Research Council recommends that for people, no more than 25 percent of calories should be from “added sugar,” which means “they don’t count what’s naturally in an apple, banana, potato or other nonprocessed food. … The dose we selected is consumed by 13 percent to 25 percent of Americans.”

The diet fed to the mice with the 25 percent sugar-added diet is equivalent to the diet of a person who drinks three cans daily of sweetened soda pop “plus a perfectly healthy, no-sugar-added diet,” Potts says.

Ruff notes that sugar consumption in the American diet has increased 50 percent since the 1970s, accompanied by a dramatic increase in metabolic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, fatty liver and cardiovascular disease.

And here three of the study’s findings, written in all their scientific glory:

– After 32 weeks in mouse barns, 35 percent of the females fed extra sugar died, twice the 17 percent death rate for female control mice. There was no difference in the 55 percent death among males who did and did not get added sugar. Ruff says males have much higher death rates than females in natural settings because they compete for territory, “but there’s no relation to sugar.”

– Males on the added-sugar diet acquired and held 26 percent fewer territories than males on the control diet: control males occupied 47 percent of the territories while sugar-added mice controlled less than 36 percent. Male mice shared the remaining 17 percent of territories.

– Males on the added-sugar diet produced 25 percent fewer offspring than control males, as determined by genetic analysis of the offspring. The sugar-added females had higher reproduction rates than controls initially – likely because the sugar gave them extra energy to handle the burden of pregnancy – but then had lower reproductive rates as the study progressed, partly because they had higher death rates linked to sugar.

Translation: Sugar is bad.

Or is it? You surely will be shocked to learn that corn and sugar producers have some complaints and questions about the study. Via the Los Angeles Times:

The Corn Refiners Assn., a trade group, questioned the use of mice in the study, saying in a statement that the only way to know the effect in people would be to test people.

“Mice do not eat sugar as a part of their normal diet, so the authors are measuring a contrived overload effect that might not be present had the rodents adapted to sugar intake over time,” the group said.

The trade group for the sugar industry, the Sugar Assn., said it was studying the research. But it maintained that the sweetener used in the study was crucial.

“Sugar and the various formulations of HFCS are molecularly different — they are not the same product, yet too often, and erroneously, HFCS is referred to as an ‘added sugar.’ ” the statement said. “Only sugar is sugar.”

Hmm… sugar and spice, and everything nice… we may need to re-calibrate that old ditty.

Posted by Steve

 

Caffeine: The world’s most popular psychoactive drug

The I’m sure not coffee-fueled bloggers/writers over at Smithsonian magazine have answered a question that we’re too tired and sleepy to ask: Why we get addicted to caffeine.

And just so no one thinks we don’t realize there’s a teeny, tiny, itsy-bitsy downside to drinking coffee, we’re passing on how humans get too attached to what they claim is the “world’s most popular psychoactive drug”:

Soon after you drink (or eat) something containing caffeine, it’s absorbed through the small intestine and dissolved into the bloodstream. Because the chemical is both water- and fat-soluble (meaning that it can dissolve in water-based solutions—think blood—as well as fat-based substances, such as our cell membranes), it’s able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain.

Structurally, caffeine closely resembles a molecule that’s naturally present in our brain, called adenosine (which is a byproduct of many cellular processes, including cellular respiration)—so much so, in fact, that caffeine can fit neatly into our brain cells’ receptors for adenosine, effectively blocking them off. Normally, the adenosine produced over time locks into these receptors and produces a feeling of tiredness.

When caffeine molecules are blocking those receptors, they prevent this from occurring, thereby generating a sense of alertness and energy for a few hours. Additionally, some of the brain’s own natural stimulants (such as dopamine) work more effectively when the adenosine receptors are blocked, and all the surplus adenosine floating around in the brain cues the adrenal glands to secrete adrenaline, another stimulant.

Then it goes into an even more fascinating aspect: why we need more and more:

In people who take advantage of this process on a daily basis (i.e. coffee/tea, soda or energy drink addicts), the brain’s chemistry and physical characteristics actually change over time as a result. The most notable change is that brain cells grow more adenosine receptors, which is the brain’s attempt to maintain equilibrium in the face of a constant onslaught of caffeine, with its adenosine receptors so regularly plugged (studies indicate that the brain also responds by decreasing the number of receptors for norepinephrine, a stimulant). This explains why regular coffee drinkers build up a tolerance over time—because you have more adenosine receptors, it takes more caffeine to block a significant proportion of them and achieve the desired effect.

And the piece ends, as it of course should, on a high note: “The good news is that, compared to many drug addictions, the effects are relatively short-term.” After a week or two, you can break the addiction as you get all those receptors back to their “baseline levels.”

But why would we want to do that?

Posted by Steve

 

No coffee, no … hangover?

Although some may argue that alcohol doesn’t fit the yogi lifestyle all that well, the Ashtangis we know (and particularly love) don’t mind uncorking a bottle of wine, popping the top off a bottle of beer or (our favorites) pouring some brown stuff into a wide-bottomed glass.

Anyway, given our unofficial motto, you just had to figure we’d have to pass this news on: Researchers have turned coffee grounds into alcohol. The amazing news comes from the magazine Science:

Used coffee grounds produced a new alcoholic beverage with 40% ethanol, comparable to other hard liquor such as vodka and tequila, researchers will report in the September issue of LWT – Food Science and Technology. To evaluate the product, eight trained taste testers were brought in and rated the intensity of different smells and flavors in the alcohol. The judges described the drink as smelling like coffee and tasting bitter and pungent. Researchers noted that the taste could be improved with age and concluded that the quality was good enough for consumption. Don’t count on the caffeine to keep you awake, however; most of it disappears in the brewing process.

Why isn’t the description: “smelling like coffee and tasting like coffee?” Oh, right, we’ve got to get a little snobby in our description. Which reminds me: My asana practice on Wednesday was sweat-forward, with a hint of agony, and a strong finish of relief.

Posted by Steve

Yogi diet: At last, we know what ‘gluten-free’ means

The title, before anyone writes anything, is a joke. Of course we know what “gluten-free” means. It’s just that the U.S. government didn’t, before now:

People with celiac disease can now have confidence in the meaning of a “gluten-free” label on foods.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a final rule that defines what characteristics a food has to have to bear a label that proclaims it “gluten- free.” The rule also holds foods labeled “without gluten,” “free of gluten,” and “no gluten” to the same standard.

This rule has been eagerly awaited by advocates for people with celiac disease, who face potentially life-threatening illnesses if they eat the gluten found in breads, cakes, cereals, pastas and many other foods.

As one of the criteria for using the claim “gluten-free,” FDA is setting a gluten limit of less than 20 ppm (parts per million) in foods that carry this label. This is the lowest level that can be consistently detected in foods using valid scientific analytical tools. Also, most people with celiac disease can tolerate foods with very small amounts of gluten. This level is consistent with those set by other countries and international bodies that set food safety standards.

The FDA released that last Friday. So now you know.

If you look over to the side of this blog, you’ll see our “Yogi diet” includes no wheat. It isn’t because either of us has celiac disease; it’s just that we’ve found we feel better, keep a more regulated weight (no wheat belly) and don’t get various sugar highs and lows when we aren’t eating wheat. All of that is caused by a change in modern wheat’s amino acids.

I haven’t seen anything that tried to link that change to the rise in celiac disease. In a lot of ways, the no-wheat thing when not attached to gluten-free is still sort of “out there.” (And it’s a bummer when you think about dosas or naan.) It’s our greatest nod to that vast changes that a yoga routine can cause (or the havoc it can wreck). But it is one we can’t but embrace.

And, to be clear: This FDA pronouncement doesn’t change things at all for us. We avoid gluten-free products like the plague because they are processed.

Posted by Steve

Yogi Diet: The Smoothie Gap

In one of those TV show motifs that I often wish I could more efficiently do as a writer, I’ll begin by saying, “Previously on the Confluence Countdown…”

About six years ago, after suffering from mounting health problems I won’t go into because it’s tedious even for me to talk about, I tried (at the semi-desperate recommendation of my doctor) a raw diet. My sister recently visited from Texas, and I described it to her as “the craziest of crazy California diets.” I try not to eat anything cooked, or even heated over 118 degrees. She looked at me as if I said I was a cannibal.

It was a gradual process. I’ve stuck with it because the results were immediate, tangible, and in my blood work and bone density tests.

Because it’s a health and not a religious thing, it wasn’t one hundred percent and it wasn’t immediate. I still ate (and still eat) cooked foods on occasion, but I had a very hard time giving up wheat. Eventually, everything went except coffee (which I will not give up because I’m not that crazy). And the results were so undeniable, so visible, that Steve switched over to a mostly raw, wheat-free diet (yes, you have to say that: we don’t eat even sprouted wheat, for even more complicated reasons).

Although I still eat cooked food out with friends and with family, everybody knows about my diet, so it always threatens to take over the conversation. It’s an issue at times at work: Once at a long lunch meeting I took out a container of raw jalapeno, cherry tomatoes, basil, mint, and green beans and started eating along with everyone else. The meeting carried on, but all eyes were on my container. A colleague sitting next to me couldn’t take it anymore, put down his tuna sandwich, and said, “That looks so healthy it’s making me feel sick.” Similar things happen with students: In office hours once, gazing over my lunch, I was asked if my diet meant I was a “hippie.”

I’ve even had to offer defense for it to Tim Miller and Nancy Gilgoff. Tim thinks it’s too extreme and Nancy thinks it’s too vata.

So every once in a while I have these kinds of Waterloo moments where I realize just how far down the rabbit hole I’ve gone. (How’s that for mixing metaphors?) It’s a moment when I realize how interconnected my life, my practice, and my diet have become. I’ve just had one of those moments in a series of Facebook messages on, of all things, smoothies. In particular, the use of fruit and protein powder.

When a friend I haven’t seen in a very long time posted a simple, “Anyone know any healthy smoothie recipes?” in her status, like an idiot, I chimed in. Amidst the suggestions of bananas and berries, I was talking hot peppers and ginger. As the conversation got more detailed, I began to see what I was suggesting might seem a little…crazy.

I am implying something.
I am implying something.

The smoothies Steve and I eat are more like liquified salads. Heck, they’re not even really salads, since there’s no lettuce. If it’s green, purple, or leafy we put it in. Here’s a list: all kale varieties, spinach, mint, parsley, cilantro, dill, cabbage, celery (with top), whole carrots (with tops), tomatoes, cucumber, broccoli, water cress, bok choi, oregano, and in a pinch, brussels sprouts. For extra flavor we’ve used ginger, whole lemons or limes (with peels). The liquid is filtered water. I’m not saying all this goes in at the same time, but any given smoothie could have five or six of these things. I ask you, is that not crazy? Still say no? What if I told you we have a couple 24-ouncers every day? My friend described this as “wretched.” Ah. You’re probably right, I thought.

So immune has this made us to sugar craving that we hardly eat any fruit. Fruit in a smoothie? Why? That’s when I knew I’d gone over the edge: Bananas seem like high sugar fruit to me. Eat a red banana or a plantain and you’ll see just how hyper-engineered a seedless, yellow banana is. And that we don’t consume any of that other smoothie staple, protein powder.

The mere suggestion that protein powder might not be all that good for you can garner you a great deal of disdain in some circles. But one of the earliest and simplest lessons I learned on a raw food diet came from Michael Pollan, who pointed out that if it needs a package—no matter what kind—it’s processed somehow. Protein powders are simply processed whole foods, and many of them are mostly wheat. Even raw protein powders are mostly processed peas. We just eat the peas. Sometimes, they go in a smoothie.

But this brings me to the less tangible repercussions of the way we eat. While it has made enormous differences in our health and well-being—really, beyond price—and while it’s clarified the practice of Ashtanga and eased that path to a great degree, made the impossible possible, it has also made it hard to connect with others over the dinner table, out in the world. I get concerned when I see a little girl munching on a bag of Goldfish. And I want to tell my friend on Facebook to leave the banana and the protein powder out.

So deep are the roots of this change, though, that I’ve come to realize it’s hard to change one thing without changing everything…eventually. For me, Ashtanga was the wedge that opened a crack in the shell of my old life, and as it widened, more changed, and more, and is still changing–an exciting and frightening thought, really.

Perhaps for my friend, the wedge is leaving out the banana.

Posted by Bobbie