Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Putting my leg behind my head makes me very hungry

It's true. I didn't really realize this until about half an hour ago. I was teaching class, standing at the front of the classroom leading a discussion. Somebody brought up the example of eating food at a buffet (I can't even remember what the example was supposed to illustrate; shows how hungry I am), and my stomach began to growl involuntarily. Gosh, I hope nobody else in the room heard it. At any rate, this is the image that immediately formed in my mind:

Damn! Even greasy Chinese buffet food looks heavenly when my stomach's growling...
[Image taken from here]

Given that I am not usually this hungry at this time of the day (I generally have a light lunch, which sees me through pretty much the whole afternoon), and given the addition of Ekapada Sirsasana to my practice the last couple of days, the most viable explanation for my increased hunger would be that doing leg-behind-the-head postures stimulates the appetite much more than usual. Actually, I've also written about the effects of LBH postures on the appetite before in the past, come to think of it (see, for example, this post).  So I guess none of this is really news.

But still, it's an interesting phenomenon. I don't have any yoga books on hand right now to look up, to pinpoint the exact explanation for this phenomenon; I'm guessing that being very deep forward bends, LBH postures stimulate the digestive fire more than ordinary forward bends, which results in greater appetites and greater hunger.

But then I hear stories about yogis of old who could live on just one fistful of food a day. How's that possible? Well, either (a) they have attained the siddhi of being able to survive on very little food while putting forth great exertion (as a result of their yogic practices, their bodies can metabolize/extract nutrients from food much more efficiently than those of common mortals), or (b) they simply don't do LBH postures!

I wonder which it is? Any of you out there have similar experiences with LBH postures and your digestive fires? Did you find yourself gaining significant amounts of weight after beginning to practice LBH postures? If you have anything to say about these matters, I would love to hear from you. In the meantime, I think I'm going to go get some food...   

10 comments:

  1. Hey Nobel:) I'm with you on the increased agni:) Yes, my appetite got a bit heartier when I started 2nd, I think Bobbie at the confluencecountdown blogged about that recently. It's not a constant hunger though. Usually about 20 min after practice, look out! It's time to eat, no ifs and's or buts, please keep all hands and arms inside the vehichle:) . But then, once I'm satisfied(lately it's been a good sized meal) then I'm happy with a small light dinner, so compared to most of the US, I still only eat 1-11/2 meals a day:) No I have not gained any weight, Mari D and Pasasana keep me in check:)and of course my jeans:) Just go with the flow Nobel, don't stress, eat and enjoy my friend:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the feedback, JayaK. Yes, I will go with the flow, but I will also remember to keep wearing jeans or any kind of lower-body wear that doesn't stretch. I made the mistake of wearing sweatpants for months on end when I lived in Florida (I was going through a wearing-yoga-clothes-even-when-not-in-yoga-class phase), and boy, do those things really deceive me about the true girth of my waistline... Wait, why am I talking about this? I seem to be in the habit of drifting off into neither-here-nor-there land lately.

      Delete
  2. Hey there. I've been really hungry the past few months while focusing on the practice of 2d, including the LBTH poses. Really hungry. I even took to eating a little something before practice for a few weeks there - just an energy bar - but I've backed off of that given the increasingly early wake up call. I always have coffee first and fill it with almond or regular milk. I gained a couple pounds at first, but things have evened out and it has come off without any additional effort on my part. I find myself eating several small breakfasts throughout the morning these days.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing, Kristen. It seems that many folks (including you, and Claudia over at Ashtanga Yoga Mother Earth) have established the habit of drinking coffee before practice. I think this is following in the fine tradition of Sharath's "No Coffee, No Prana" injunction. But I find that I manage just fine on a totally empty tank :-)

      Eating several small breakfasts throughout the morning sounds like a good idea. Actually, I had two breakfasts today: The first was a small breakfast, the second more like a brunch with a big bagel; yes, bagels, like many other things, come in very generous sizes in this part of the country :-)

      Oh, and I just remembered that you are going to see Kino and Tim in Miami soon. I miss Kino. Maybe you can tell her I say hi? Have fun!

      Delete
    2. Thanks. I had to change my plans due to unexpected business travel, but MLC graciously moved me to an opening in June. And since that will be an Old Shala style workshop rather than a 2d series course, my husband, the budding yogi, is going to come with me and practice too. Should be fun!

      Delete
    3. Sounds exciting. I have yet to practice in an old shala style workshop.

      I just read your latest blog post about going to India. Are you leaving for India soon? Sounds exciting, though potentially hectic too, if you are planning on traveling home every month or so. I'm happy (and also a bit envious) that you are going to India, but at the same time, I wish you were going to Mysore instead :-)

      Delete
  3. Hi Nobel,

    I can definitely relate. The LBH postures have had pretty dramatic effects on my digestion, both immediately in practice and in general. They seem to really squeeze out the digestive organs (pancreas, liver, intestines), which can result in fun squishing noises and squeaks, followed by voracious hunger.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm... squishing noises and squeaks? I'm happy to report that I have yet to experience these. But voracious hunger, yes. I actually am starting to think this is not a bad thing; I should embrace my hunger, and eat more :-)

      Delete
  4. Okay then, I cannot afford to learn how to put my leg over my head. My appetite is already ungovernable. Thanks for the warning.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm... maybe when you learn to put your leg over your head, the power of the digestive fire that is activated will be so great that your appetite won't even be able to keep up! Then you won't need to govern your appetite :-) Bon appetit (?)

      Delete