We all want to be healthy, but all of us have their own motivation. If we choose to follow the way of yoga and we strive to achieve self-knowledge, our healthy body will promote greater awareness and sustained concentration. Our body needs regular cleansing due to bad ecology, air pollution and food contamination. This is only a rough component, not to mention the unobvious influence of electromagnetic radiations and information flows. How can we preserve purity and health of our body and mind in such an environment? Is there a method for solving these tasks? How can it be connected with yoga?
The main principle is the correct approach!
The right approach to fasting implies a very thorough preparation of both our body and our psychology. It is essential to start fasting step by step adjusting our nutrition and the work-life balance, being in the right spirit, not feeling offence, sorrow or sadness. Our approach should be the most positive.
Physiology of fasting
During fasting, our body converts from external feeding — nutrition through the digestive system — to the internal one by disintegrating its own cells. On internal supply, lipids and unhealthy cells are broken down in the first place. Wherein, the time needed for healthy benefits to come into effect will depend on body weight or fat deposits: the more fats we have, the longer we need to fast for a visible result.
The first few days (on average three days), the body switches from external feeding to internal. During this period, we can experience more discomfort than after a complete transition to internal supply. Fasting is likened to a most skillful surgeon, as it removes diseased tissues. Moreover, deep-seated processes for optimizing the usage of vital resources are deployed. This contributes to a proper reconfiguration of all body systems. The body actively discards waste substances through the excretory system, including through our skin, therefore it is recommended to do a water cleansing procedures, including bowel cleansing. Otherwise, self-poisoning may occur.
Fasting and Yoga
Abstaining from food for a while stimulates several important, underlying processes that simultaneously happen inside us. Time seems to compress, and even within two or three weeks, we can achieve the results that can take months or years to achieve through other practices.
What happens during fasting from a yogic perspective? The mind calms down, the life-energy slows down, the fluctuations of the mind are spontaneously reduced.
“When the energy wanders [i.e. is irregular], the mind is unsteady, but when [the energy is] still so is [the mind] still and the Yogin obtains the power of stillness. Therefore the energy should be restrained.” Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Moreover, during fasting we break unnecessary associative links. According to yoga, we are not our bodies, but only identify with them out of ignorance and feel ourselves dependent on their condition. This identification occurs due to associative links.
They are like invisible threads or channels through which prana (our life-energy) flows from the Higher Self — our true essence — to certain objects and phenomena, connecting us with them. The associative links can be appropriate — those that are vitally indispensable, and inappropriate — unnecessary, that consume our vital power (prana). The causes of all diseases and of various states of our consciousness originate in this phenomenon.
During fasting, unnecessary associative links are broken. Thus, we can quickly get rid of bad habits and stop the unconscious loss of prana. We start to understand that “we are not our body, our emotions and even our thoughts.” We are closer to self-awareness, to realizing our Higher Self (Atman). While fasting, we also practice asceticism, which gives strength and awareness in fighting against inappropriate associative links.
What rules should be followed during fasting?
- First, we need to understand why do we want to fast: to prove something to someone or because we want to actualize ourselves in the best way for us and the world around.
- It is necessary to abide by the first principle of yoga which urges us not to cause harm and suffering to our body and mind, as well as to everyone around us, who can be affected by our irritation arising during fasting. We must consult a specialist to determine the state of our health and discuss the possibility of fasting — this is not a practice for everyone.
- Then we abide by the second principle of yoga — we approach fasting with complete responsibility towards ourselves and apply common sense both during fasting, preparing for ingress and egress. It is better to fast under the supervision of experienced practitioners, or to thoroughly study this topic and practice gradually by starting with fasting for a couple of days.
- It is very important to listen to the reaction of our body and mind. We need to consider our weight, psychological traits and our fitness level, otherwise we can seriously damage our health instead of improving it.
- It is recommended to fast in a retreated place outdoors, where no one can disturb us.
Fasting sharpens our senses!
After fasting our perception is quite different. Everything is perceived as more intense and richer. Ordinary food has a very strong taste. Scents of flowers and plants become more pronounced, even vision and hearing can become more acute. Emotions manifest as positive. We feel an inflow of vital energy, which we usually are not aware of. This brings a lot of joy.
Fasting is one of the most powerful methods of our transformation. It changes our body, habits and our opinions about ourselves. Fasting not only cleans our body from pollution, but also our mind from unnecessary thoughts. We get prana to achieve our goals, to become more energetic and positive. We get rid of negative habits and we find calmness and relaxation. Improving the physical body, reconfiguring fine structures and spiritual experience — all in one package.
Keep your mind and body clean in achieving
awareness of a higher state of being!
Author of the article: Andrey Medin
Editors: Evgenia Agni, Ksenia Nauli, Olga Belous, Eva Rati
Chief editor: Mirra
Curator of the project: Kerigona
Translators: Natalia Coscodan, Marina Amara, Teya Sweet