In October 2016, I started a new part-time job alongside my university course and whilst there, I met quite a few people who taught or practiced yoga. They talked me into giving it a go, and after a while, yogi Adriene became my best friend. While I mostly practiced alone at home (and still do), I took a few classes as well. Very soon, I learned that yoga is not only a way of working out, it's a way of living.

Yoga is about being present in the moment, feeling and knowing your body, what it needs, what it can do and what it will do if you teach it. And that means also knowing that food is not an enemy, a comforting shoulder to cry on or simply there to please your taste buds (although you could make an exception for that pizza if you really wanted to).

Food should be nourishing and make your body feel better and satisfied. And yoga helped me to understand this.

nectarine, juice, pasture, apple
Amy Miller

I have always been used to eating a lot of vegetables and whole foods. I was raised a vegetarian and my home country, Italy, is well-known for its fresh produce. A year and a half ago, I took a step forward and went vegan; I am naturally driven towards good, healthy food. Despite this, I still struggle to pass a day without eating chocolate, and pizza is my Achilles’ heel. 

To top it all off, I have been living with anxiety and depression for the past few years of my life, which means that junk food is often a comfort I resort to when I am particularly stressed. It becomes a crutch when simple things like getting out of bed become a struggle — which, when you think about it, is actually counter productive.

Eating whole foods, however, feeds my brain in a different way, a healthy way, and consequentially makes my mental health more manageable. For me, the act of cooking good whole foods translates into taking care of myself, which is something that improves my mental state immensely.    

vegetable, pepper
Mun Ling Koh

It is well-known that yoga is often suggested to people who suffer from anxiety. Exercising in general is often recommended for mental wellness, as it releases endorphins, promotes good sleeping habits and reduces stress. Yoga also encourages mindfulness and invites you to practice it throughout your day. 

What practicing mindfulness really means is noticing what you have on your plate. For example, the colors of your food. Every single bite you take becomes a symphony of different tastes. And listening to your body means that you know when you are full and when to stop eating. 

Though mindfulness is something you can practice on your own, I found that pairing it with a form of exercising was the best way to actually improve my life. This doesn’t mean that I don’t go through phases of wanting to eat only carbs and sugars (especially when my body is going through that time of the month), but it is always followed by longer cravings of greens and whole foods.  

Eliane Lindeque

Yoga helped me to eat better. The mindfulness I practice on the mat carries on with me throughout the day, and eating is now one of those moments I really notice to be here and alive. And thanks to that, I see food as the fuel for my body to function. Yes, it needs to be tasty, but also purposeful. 

I encourage everyone who is struggling in their life to give it a try. I believe that changing the relationship between yourself and your body can make you stronger, no matter the situation. I will never stop recommending yoga to everyone I meet, as it changed my life for the better, and can definitely do the same for you.