We all come to our yoga practice for different reasons and as our practice develops, we become inspired to grow and expand our awareness. We have the potential and opportunity to not only gain physical strength but mental clarity as our body begins to connect with a deeper and more meditative state of being.
When considering what ‘nourishes us’ and sustains us, we tend to pay close attention to the food that we put into our bodies. Next to breathing, eating is our most vital bodily function. To create a healthy body and mind, our food must be nourishing. Ideal nutrition comes from consuming a variety of foods that are prepared and eaten with awareness. However, it is equally important to focus on our thoughts and feelings to energise both mind and soul and stay mentally well!
Nourishing ourselves from the inside out allows us to get in touch with what we need in order to pursue a healthier and happier lifestyle. Just as we can consume a lot of food yet still be malnourished, we can fill our lives with stories and narratives that we think will make us happy. As we grow up, we adopt negative thought patterns that become more and more difficult to let go of which no longer serve us in a healthy way. Becoming aware of what these thoughts are can enable us to eventually start to let go and ‘detox’. We can then move forwards and start to adopt healthier ways of relating inwardly and outwardly.
Filling ourselves with positive, affirming thoughts allows us to feel more nourished and more positive. Fulfillment and self-love come from within and no amount of external validation can make up for them. Loving ourselves and finding sustenance and inner peace is a real possibility if we start to let the good stuff in.
We need to be kind to ourselves and this becomes more possible when we start living more consciously with love and compassion. When we listen to our needs, we can begin to integrate the nourishment all parts of our being asks for.
Healthy soul foods which we might start considering include the following:
- Gratitude: The root of abundance and by practicing gratitude we increase or energy levels, creativity, patience and connectivity. Regardless of where we are in life, we have the power to change if we shift our perspective and open up to the limitless possibilities that life has to offer.
- Love: A core human need that takes many forms. Each one of us are our own unique masterpiece, and admittedly at times, it can be difficult to see ourselves as an individual piece of art, when the world is telling us that “we need to be this” and “we need to be that”. The ultimate nourishment of the body is learning the art of being content with who you are. So quit the self-loathing, and start to treasure yourself.
- Laughter: Find reasons for fun and laughter and light heartedness. When was the last time you played? What makes you smile, what excites you? Take time to explore and get in touch with these parts of yourself. It is often said that ‘the most wasted of all days is one without laughter’!
- Appreciation: All the good things in life, no matter what and no matter how small. Telling yourself that you are worthy, caring, compassionate and are doing the best you can at this life. Appreciation of self is something so rare to come by, but how much more beautiful does someone appear when they are confident and yet practice humility. Stop punishing yourself, and practice some self-love for the soul.
- Joy: Find joy and something worth celebrating in the things you do on a daily basis. Reward yourself for your accomplishments and take time out for pleasures.
Every day, we have the choice to indulge in negative behaviours which are energy sapping or to connect with thoughts that nourish our soul and bring vitality. We choose both intentionally and unintentionally how we feed ourselves or fuel our anxieties. If we can recognise that we are all a work in progress, we can then start to appreciate the journey and focus on the process of growth.
By surrendering to what is and letting go of what no longer serves us we are able to start glimpsing an altogether more affirming, sustainable and energised existence.
Nikki Kemp is a psychotherapist and counsellor practising in Shepherds Bush, London W12. Prior to becoming a therapist, Nikki worked for twenty years in the media industry. This experience has helped her to develop an understanding of the pressures of working in fast paced environments. Her specialities are working with anxiety, stress, relationship difficulties and addictions. She uses an integrative approach that is focused on helping you experience life more in the way you want to.