I’ve been posting about the potential benefits of intermittent fasting for a while now. When we look through the lens of evolutionary biology, calorie restriction and fasting make a lot of sense. It is important to remember that for a species that has been on the planet for millions of years, agriculture is a relatively recent development having been invented only 12,000 years ago. While 12,000 years may sound like a long time, evolutionarily speaking, it is not. It is unlikely our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have had access to regular meals or nearly the amount of calories we consume with such ease in one meal. And while different food fads seem to come and go, the one thing most people don’t try is eating less or not as often. Could calorie restriction or fasting be a key to health regardless of what we choose to eat? The scientific evidence, while not yet conclusive, seems to be pointing in that direction.
Some people believe that yoga teachers should “stay in their lane” and not even mention diet, but I disagree. While their are responsible ways to speak about things and irresponsible ways to speak about those same subjects, and their are people who are informed when they speak about a subject and those who are not, I want to be clear about something, I don’t see myself as a ‘glorified fitness instructor’ only qualified to speak about anatomy and yoga poses. The Yoga I teach is about life, or as my Zen teacher would put it, life is about Yoga. As far as I am concerned no topic is off limits. I am not presenting myself as an expert on anything, and I am not making a specific recommendation here but simply sharing ideas and information that is relevant to yogis. And make no mistake, dietary considerations have always been a topic for yogis going all the way back to classic texts like the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the oldest known surviving text on Hatha Yoga. For me, if we restrict Yoga teachers to only being able to speak about ‘exercise’ then we greatly limit Yogas potential to help people.
Additionally, part of what I see as a ‘problem’ in our culture is the “stove-piping” of information by professionals. Dietitians are the only ones who can speak about diet, doctors are the only ones who can talk about health, only scientist can talk about science. This is called specialization. It is one approach, and it can produce good results in many instances. However, a lot of the appeal of systems like Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and Yoga, and part of the reason I believe they are gaining in prominence and popularity in our culture, is that they bring back a more wholistic approach that we have been missing in the west. I feel we need someone in our lives who is free to roam different disciplines and pull together different ideas. Right now I think that person for most westerners is their Yoga teacher. Perhaps someone who is not an expert in anything can help bring a different perspective to our lives, one that we can consider along with all the other more informed but less board expert perspectives. I am not suggesting you listen to your yoga teacher, or that she is right about anything. But if she is good, and is really teaching Yoga, then you may find that in certain instances at least, her recommendations may be quite different than the perspective you would get anywhere else.
Now again, I want to be clear, this is not a diet recommendation. It is not a recommendation for a fad ‘diet’ that I tried to get the ‘body of my dreams’ that is being promoted by some weight loss “guru”. As the article indicates, the goal was not weight-loss but to see the effects of calorie restriction on aging. It is an article about a scientific study that implies certain things and ‘proves’ others. It is presented to healthy adults for their consideration. If you are not healthy, then please get the professional help you need. What you choose to eat is up to you.