Jade Lizzie

Sharing the yoga love

Tag: vegan yogi

The Sceptical Yoga Teacher

sceptical yoga teacherIs it possible to be a sceptical yoga teacher?

When I tell people I teach yoga, they make a lot of assumptions about me. And, to be fair, I do fit some of the stereotypes. My wardrobe does mainly consist of yoga leggings and sports bras, I do (try to) meditate every day and I am probably more flexible than the average person. But I also love science, I’m passionate about logical, rational arguments and I have a physics degree. So frankly, I die a little inside when I hear yogis referencing quantum mechanics, as if the very mention of quantum entanglement provides empirical evidence for every new age concept out there.

This is not because I don’t think yogis should talk about science. I love talking about science. I think everyone should talk more about science. But discussing concepts you don’t understand with the assumed authority of someone who does is a misuse of physics and undermines the credibility of what many describe as the “science of yoga.”

I have a similar reaction when people grasp onto alternative forms of medicine as if because they’re “natural” they must work. Don’t get me wrong, I think the western medical system has plenty of flaws, and I’m a big believer in exploring other options. For example, I think we can learn a lot from the holistic approach of systems such as Ayurveda, where they look at the whole person rather than treating symptoms. But that’s not to say that these ancient systems have all the answers, and because they are on some “spiritual plane”, they are above investigation. “Alternative” medicine can and should be tested just as rigorously as anything else.

What I find most strange is when people suggest that you can’t be “spiritual” or into yoga unless you suspend all analytical thought. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve tried to discuss ideas with someone from the yoga community only for any questions I have to be met with, “But science can’t explain everything.” Perhaps not, but does that mean we should just hold our hands up, fall at the feet of the nearest guru and accept everything we’re told without question? To me that seems like a pretty dangerous path to follow.

I don’t think the barriers that people (on both sides of the fence as it were) put up between yoga, spirituality and science are necessary or helpful. Ultimately, everyone is seeking the truth and greater understanding, but approaching it from different angles. Surely the greatest growth comes when we learn from other fields, rather than disregarding them because their approach is different to our own?

A meditation teacher of mine used to say, “You don’t have to leave your intellect at the door,” and I loved this expression. I’ve always taken this to mean that you can have both. You can immerse yourself in yoga and meditation, and let thinking take a back seat for a while in order to drop into the experience of something. But it’s also ok to question things, try to work them out for yourself, and maintain a healthy scepticism when faced with so-called gurus making sweeping statements without backing them up. In short, I think it’s perfectly possible to be a sceptical yoga teacher. 

I’d love to know what your experiences are of this – let me know in the comments below?

Have a lovely day, and Merry Christmas everyone!

Jade xxx

 

Five things I wish I’d known before turning vegan…

About 6 weeks ago I did something I’d been thinking about for a while – I stopped eating meat, fish, dairy and eggs. My reason for doing this was simply that the more I learned about the animal industries, the more uncomfortable I felt consuming produce which supported them. I still like the taste of meat, I don’t judge anyone else for eating it, and I don’t think it’s more “natural” to be vegan necessarily. I just don’t want to support cruelty to animals.

Here’s what I wish I’d known before I started…

  1. You need to watch your calorie intake. It’s easy to not eat enough, especially if you’re not used to eating large volumes of food. For the first few days although I felt full after every meal, I’d wake up in the middle of the night hungry and have to make smoothies at 3am. This is not a good way to endear yourself to your housemates…
  2. Equally, you can have too much of a good thing. After realising I needed more calories, I set about eating almonds, avocado and olive oil like my life depended on it. My stomach was less than impressed.
  3. You need to have your rationale for a vegan diet clear in your own mind because you’ll be asked to justify your choices. A lot. Similarly it helps to have your nutritional facts straight – people become inordinately concerned about your protein intake when you tell them you’re vegan. Weird, because no one ever cared before when I’d shun dinner for a packet of Kettle Chips…
  4. You can feel like the awkward one in the group with the special dietary requirement. You might not have a problem with this, but unfortunately I do. I feel embarrassed and end up apologising. I’m working on it.
  5. You have to check things all the time

Me: These cookies are so good, I can’t believe they’re vegan!

Chef: Erm, Jade? They’re not.

Me: Oops.

Luckily there have been unexpected benefits too…

  1. There’s no need to live off rabbit food unless you want to. Vegan food can be delicious, varied and substantial. This week alone I’ve had burritos, curry, pancakes, cheesecake, chocolate mousse and flapjack.
  2. It’s easy to eat really well and up your intake of fruit, vegetables and wholefoods without even trying.
  3. You discover great restaurants that you may not have considered otherwise, like this amazing place in Tarifa where the majority of their menu is vegan.
  4. Vegan pizza is surprisingly tasty.
  5. It feels really good to know that you’re eating cruelty-free.

So for now I’m sticking with it. I don’t know whether it’s forever. I have a history of disordered eating, so now my physical and mental health are always my priority; I’ll only do it for as long as it’s healthy for my body and my mind. And who knows – maybe one day I’ll find a way to source the occasional animal product which is guaranteed to be cruelty-free. But at the moment, I’m happy with my choices. I just need to be more careful around cookies…

If you’re interested in going vegan, have been vegan for a while, or think it’s a terrible idea, I’d love to hear from you – let me know in the comments below!

Jade xxx

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