Last week, a friend of mine commented that I was a very disciplined eater. Admittedly, I normally avoid deep fried food and pay attention to how much chocolate enters my body. However, just this past weekend, I had 3 pieces of a heavenly "fruit" pie/cake. Mostly it was a lot of frosting. There are times when I am definitely full, and then the "hollow" leg comes out to fit in some popcorn or dark chocolate covered almonds ( Trader Joe's has the best!).
I've been known to come home from teaching and eat at 9 pm knowing full well that I'll be passed out in bed by 10 pm.
Point is, I disagreed that I'm a disciplined eater. More than some, but if the fate of India was based on my ability to fast, I'm afraid things would have turned out very differently!
Mike, my partner, and I were talking about this and he said that I might not always be fully disciplined, but I was always very aware. This is definitely true. See the bag of pretzels at the top of this post? They were bought when I was gone and as soon as I got home I noticed that they were artificially flavored with butter (fake butter). The peanut butter that was selected without me had sugar (or was it corn syrup) in it. Point is, I notice these things and avoid unnecessary artificial flavors, sweeteners, or preservatives.
Awareness, abhijja, is one of the goals of Yoga. Through the use of intimate awareness of the body, breath, and mind via asana, pranayama, and meditation, our senses are heightened. During the practice or sadhana, pratyahara or withdrawal of the senses occurs naturally.
However, after the practice this respite in time brings us more present, more in the now. All senses are stimulated and the mind realizes everything that is in the current moment in time. I think this is how we become more aware.
Aside from growing in awareness, there is the first Yama and the first Niyama of the Yoga Sutras: Non-Violence ( Ahimsa ) and Cleanliness ( Sauca ). Both of these can be seen in our diets and what we put into our bodies.
Life is a choice. How we live is a choice. But to come out of ignorance and at least know what we are choosing, I believe is the first step to making wise choices. We may not always select the best option, but at least we know what we are doing and decide with open eyes.
So, know what's in your peanut butter and your pretzels. Know how the chicken and turkey are raised and treated before you eat them or their eggs. Find out where those cut flowers come from and how the farmers are treated and are the mere children?
Part of the Yoga path is to stamp out ignorism, and that starts by being aware, abhijja.