Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food
– Hippocrates (460 -370 BCE)
In many religions and traditions, fasting has always been embraced and practised with the understanding that it cleanses, and purges toxins from one’s physical body. Diverting valuable energy from digestion to the introspection of the mind and withdrawal of one’s senses, adds a spiritual element to the act of fasting.
Being a spiritualist, a believer of an Abrahamic religion, and a student of yoga, I usually shun away from asanas during the fasting month, simply because I expect it to be too physically tiring for me. Fear grips me in a multitude of forms: the possibility of collapsing from sheer exhaustion in the middle of a vinyasa, that awful bitter taste on my tongue from the lack of glucose, and the dread of having to drag myself home after the program ends.
Fortunately for me, experiencing 9 full days of fasting while in this program has been anything but. I feel a sense of lightness, a balanced feeling, after consuming sattvic foods. My energy is not only derived from the food I consciously eat earlier in the day, but more so from my own inner energy and manifested focus.
When I feel pain, I remind myself it’s temporal like hunger; so I keep going.
When I feel defeated, I remind myself it is a lot less harder than conquering thirst; so I keep going.
When I am distracted, I remind myself it is as simple as keeping my thoughts pure; so I keep going.
In these 9 days, I am quite certain that fasting makes it easier to keep up with the rigours of the asana practice. I have less distractions simply because I have sufficient energy to only dwell on one particular thing at one time. My breath is less laborious because I can only concentrate on myself. My actions have more intent because I cannot afford to waste precious energy.
Perhaps, in those 9 days, I saw a glimpse of a better version of a yoga student I could be… because I was hungrier.
Suffian (Weekday Hatha/Ashtanga 200hr YTT)