After years of taking yoga classes and maintaining a home asana practice, I finally began learning yoga philosophy. I guess I am a late bloomer. I attended a Yoga Sutra workshop and was blown away. So much of what was said aligned with my life and practice. I especially identified with the yamas (universal ethical principles). I have always tried to live a positive life – I don’t like speaking ill of people, I do not believe in violence, but I do believe in moderation and living a simple life. So everything made sense to me and I felt vindicated – that I had been on the right path all along.
Then the teacher dropped the bomb. Vegetarianism for a yogi is nonnegotiable! (NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!) Years of hamburgers and turkey sandwiches flashed before my eyes. Could my commitment to yoga be fractured by my love for the occasional steak and cheese? How could this be true? Believe me, if anyone had a loving heart for cows, pigs, and poultry it was me. I love chickens. What is life without meat?
I learned that eating meat does not align with the yama ahimsa (non violence). By eating meat, I had been transferring the tamas from death into my system. Yikes. My mind was blown. What do I do?
So I left the workshop and gave it some serious thought. I even did some research. There is evidence that eating some fish and meat prologues life and is helpful for some diseases and disorders. I also heard a rumor that vegetarianism was bad for your teeth – I was not ready to give up good teeth. I had been taking classes for years and had what I considered to be a great practice. People like me practice yoga every day and eat meat. So why was I so bothered by this? I could continue eating meat and be fine.
Unfortunately, I was not fine. What the teacher said really stuck with me. I had to at least give it a shot. So that is what I did. I tried being a weekday vegetarian – and it wasn’t so bad. The first few weeks of meat detox were strange. My body felt weird – like it was missing something. Then, it started. I felt cleaner, happier, and more open.
I am now a full-on vegetarian (well sort of). I still eat eggs, which some people consider vegetarian and others don’t. For now, it works for me. I am happy with my decision, and am proud to report that I still have white teeth.