My friend Cyndi Lee, owner of Om Yoga, chose Ravenous as Om’s May Book of the Month. Cyndi invited me to give a talk at her studio in New York this coming Wednesday, May 11, starting at 6:30. If you live in New York, come on down!
Cyndi asked me to write a blog post for her website. I did, and I am reposting it here:
Ten years ago while attending a Yoga Journal conference, I was in a backbend class with master teacher Patricia Walden. As she helped my ample body push into wheel, and as I grunted, groaned and kvetched, she asked me, “Why are you in this body? What is it your yoga practice has to teach you?
Her questions struck deep. I spent the next ten years trying to figure them out, and wrote some of what I learned in my memoir, “Ravenous: A Food Lover’s Journey from Obsession to Freedom.”
I love food. I’ve always loved food. That love finally caught up with me, and at midlife, I found myself wearing a size 18. My blood pressure was high, my knees hurt, my yoga practice suffered, and I started searching for ways out of my dilemma.
I’m a food writer, so I started with the food itself. I visited food artisans who worked with my favorite foods like chocolate, cheese and olives, so I could learn more about the foods I’m passionate about. I worked on a farm, foraged, went to a slaughterhouse — all so I could get closer to my food sources. Through it all, I learned a lot about my relationship with food — but my weight didn’t change.
And then (on page 175), I had an epiphany (on my yoga mat). One of my teachers, Scott Blossom, gave me a sequence that involved a lot of standing poses and vinyasa (and he knows how much I hate to sweat). When I complained and kvetched (notice a theme here?), he said that I must learn to live in the legs and root the legs, because “transformation doesn’t happen from the neck up. It happens when your feet are rooted to the earth.”
Suddenly I understood. I had been thinking about transformation. But I hadn’t yet let myself experience it. I hadn’t yet garnered the faith and trust it takes to fall into the river and let the current take me.
Which brings me to my second epiphany (page 185). Everything in life I’ve ever wanted to develop a deeper relationship with — whether it’s writing, or music, or yoga — I’ve had to practice. Why would my relationship with eating and my body be any different?
So I began a food practice. As a yogini, diets never made sense to me. But a food practice does. So I reframed what, how and how much I ate and began viewing it as both a practical and a spiritual practice. I measured my food, I wrote it down, I slowed down. I blessed my food, because I’m damn lucky to have enough to eat. I blessed my body, because it’s a fine one. I blessed my body at the start of this journey, when I was a size 18, and I bless it today, 30 pounds lighter and a size 12.
Now I have an answer to those questions Patricia asked me so long ago. What does my yoga practice teach me? It teaches me to show up. It teaches me to be present with what is. And it reminds me what a lucky girl I am to be here now.