My friend Eve, yoga teacher and writer, tries to limit her consumption of carbohydrates. High-protein foods, such as fish and poultry, don’t seem to add fat around her middle as carbs do.
I’ve heard this claim before. But I’ve always eaten carbs with no ill effects. I grew up eating Japanese sticky rice and soft white bread, and now favor whole grains, especially brown rice, oatmeal, and shredded wheat cereal. I sometimes crave the clean-burning “fuel” of unrefined, unflavored carbs.
Judging from elderly relatives and my own tendencies, I predict that body fat won’t be an issue for me; rather, the trends on my dad’s side (which I resemble) are slouchy spine and skinniness. They shrink, they waste away. So, my “work” is clear: extend the thoracic spine, open the chest, and maintain muscle mass.
There is no universal Rx. We have different genes, different bodies, different metabolism, different quirks. So, if you’re trying to follow the latest health trend, stop and study your family history and your own health.
Yoga teaches us to observe ourselves from the inside, and this applies not only to asana but also practical lifestyle choices, including diet. Just because one person eschews gluten or fish or soy doesn’t mean that everyone should.
What’s your “work”?
The uniqueness of people’s bodies truly comes to life as a yoga teacher. For example, I’m ever intrigued by observing students in savasana, which displays one’s innate quirks, from tight necks to raised shoulders to legs with full turnout, feet flopping open like a book. Mental habits are also displayed: some seem instantly to drop away while others can hardly keep their eyes shut.
These distinctions remind me that general instructions are never enough. It’s important to tailor yoga teachings to each student—and to do the same for myself.