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Conscious Consumption

March 7, 2011

Dear fellow yogis

I am forever dumbfounded when I notice magazine covers in January. Each year they have the same diet fads splashed in bold on the covers, usually next to the latest star gossip and other trivia. And every year this makes me realise, once again, how important diet is and how much we have lost in modern society.

I am from the generation where you ate what you were given, where the dinner table experience was edgy at the best of times and where you offered rehearsed prayers that meant nothing to you. Food was rarely prepared with love, rarely given any ethical thought and bodies were associated with so many taboos that they had to be treated superficially, lest you start questioning and discover Pandora ’s Box.

But then, in counter-thought, I realise that many of us have also moved closer to our own truths again; that we are constantly searching for ways to move inward and to heal not only our own scars, but also the ancient ones we carry from earlier generations.

The idea of healing ourselves is not a new one and fortunately there are methods available to us to aid our journeys. Two complimentary traditions are yoga and ayurveda. Yoga is about union and harmony between the earthly and the divine (in a broad sense) through asana (physical postures), pranayama (breath), and meditation and so on; ayurveda, or the science of life, is about establishing harmony through conscious living.

If you attend yoga classes regularly or read about alternative healing methods, you have almost certainly come across the idea of a ayurvedic lifestyle. Perhaps you have wanted to consult a ayurveda practitioner but found it all quite daunting. This is often the case when trying out a new philosophy or way of living and so instead of talking about how to be diagnosed and what it all means, we can start exploring an ayurvedic lifestyle from a yogic perspective – that is, by learning to listen to our bodies.

Ayurveda is, in the simplest terms, about conscious consumption. This does not apply to food only as everything we absorb through the senses can be seen as food. This means, for example, that you should be a conscious listener as music or conversation may be useful or harmful to you. When you start approaching your life in this way, you will closely notice your own behaviour towards others, but also towards yourself, and in this way you may become more conscious of what you need for your own healing.

Ayurveda classifies food into three categories, namely sattvic (those that promote harmony and lucidity, such as beans, fresh fruits and vegetables, cereals, herbal teas, etc.), rajasic (those that promote energy and lively action, such as garlic, vinegar, onions, basmati rice, etc.) and tamasic (those that induce inertia, conflict and grounding, such as frozen, fried and microwave foods, coffee, tea, alcohol, drugs and mushrooms. So basically, the idea is that all foods are associated with specific aspects of life such as air (vayu), water (kapha) and fire (pitta), amongst others, and that these aspects all have specific therapeutic qualities.

You may of course be an old hand at all of this and know how to listen in, giving your body, mind and spirit what it needs. On the other hand, there may be some of you who find this daunting and new but why not look into ayurveda and try to combine it with your yoga practice, finding postures that are right for you, like postures for kaphas (to fight inertia and instil fire), pittas (for cooling the body and restoring harmony to the mind) and vatas (for heating the body and grounding the being). At the same time you could try conscious eating as well and journal about your internal experience of these changes.

You could, for instance, start your day by doing yoga for kaphas. Do two rounds of salute to the sun, then lie on the floor, doing the wheel, the fish and then the plough. Now do a sitting forward bend and end with the roaring lion. Next, find a comfortable position and repeat a mantra five to ten times. Afterwards enjoy the pineapple and mango smoothie (recipe below) which will further enhance kapha.

Below are three ayurvedic recipes to try out. If you have any comments or suggestions I would love to hear from you so please feel free to email me and look out for next month’s newsletter when we will take a closer look at what the ancient texts have to say about conscious consumption.




Pineapple smoothie

½ pineapple

½ mango

10 almonds

½ glass of almond or Soya milk

Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth. It’s fresh and filling!




Fruit bread

1/3 cup orange juice

1 cup dried cranberries

2 tsp agave nectar

Place these ingredients in a bowl and soak for an hour to two hours, stirring occasionally.

1 cup raisins

1½ cups finely chopped almonds or cashews

1 cup flaked coconut

¼ cup lemon zest

1½ cups oat flour

1½ tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cardamom

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp ground ginger

Pinch of salt

Mix these ingredients together in a different bowl and when the orange mix is ready, stir that into the dry ingredients.

1 cup blended pineapple

After all the ingredients have been mixed in, fold in the blended pineapple and then place it a bread pan. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius and bake for 40 – 50 minutes. Remove after testing with a fork and leave to cool before slicing.


Lentil hummus

1½ cups lentils

1 tsp ground cumin

½  tsp turmeric

½  tsp salt

2 tbsp grape seed oil or olive oil

3 tbsp tahini

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

cayenne pepper or paprika to taste

1¼  cups filtered water

Prepare the lentils by soaking and cooking it. Use it only once it has cooled completely. Then, in a dry pan, lightly roast the spices, taking care not to burn it. Remove it from the heat as soon as it becomes aromatic. Place the ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth. For variety, try adding sundried tomatoes or roasted peppers. Once cool, place in an air-tight container and refrigerate. This marmalade stays fresh in the fridge for about a month.


ChantelleChantelle Roelofse teaches yoga in Muizenberg and co-owns a vegan restaurant, CLOSER, in the area as well. When she isn’t in an asana or thinking about food, she runs, plays piano and writes. She is interested in the philosophy of yoga and how we can incorporate it in modern living. Chantelle supports ethical living and veganism.


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