Fasting and Feasting – in the name of God

We first revered the Father (Shiva), then indulged the Son (Ganpati) and now as we dance and rejoice we pay our respects to the Mother (Shakti) during Navratra or Navratri. The word Navaratri means ‘nine nights’ in Sanskrit, nava meaning nine and ratri meaning nights. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shakti/Devi are worshiped, which represents the Divine Feminine Principle within us.

Many observe a strict fast during this period. Today fasting is frequently heralded as the “miracle weight loss” for those who have tried all else without success.

Actually Fasting in Sanskrit is called ‘Upavas’. Upa- means near and Vas means to sit. Thus Upavas is sitting next to or residing in close proximity to the Divine or simply a Connection with the Divine

A fast also is one of the best ways of controlling our mind and senses, especially our Tongue. They allow us to withdraw our senses from the outside world and become refocused on our own inner divine nature and our connection to God. Unfortunately today, most of us have forgotten much of the purpose of a fast. Today, we either see people feasting in the name of fasting. Or we see the exact opposite – starvation. People starve for various reasons – to please God or to even lose weight. Starving is the ideal way to increase your abdominal girth, as when we starve the adrenal gland kicks in, stores the fat and lets go off the muscle, bone and water. Though you may be few kgs lower on your scale, your Fat percentage just jumped further up, putting your body into more danger and more closer to a heart disease.

So just like on a normal day, even when observing a Fast, sensible eating is required. The food restriction during a fast is not a punishment, but rather to practice self-restraint. Fasting typically means to eat a healthy diet comprising of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, protein, healthy carbs and fat, which is essentially called a “Sattvic” diet in Ayurveda. This in turn leads to clarity and equanimity of mind while also being tremendously beneficial to the body – thus bringing us to a state of balance.

The so called restricted diet gives us a chance to get in touch with our tummy. Everyday everywhere we see a  variety of food on in front of us and somewhere we forget that the body needs only a certain amount of food for sustenance for the stomach can hold only so much physically. It is our senses continue to crave, and we give in to those cravings very often.

These fasts just come as a break for us to get in touch or rather friendly with our stomach, to get clarity of what we want to eat, when we want to eat and most importantly HOW MUCH to eat, for it is only we ourselves who know how much we need to eat in that moment – no doctor or dietician can tell us that.

So if you really want to fast – let go of your past. Give up criticizing yourself. Give up on the tags and labels you put up on yourself.  And ‘feed’ yourself only certain things then – put yourself on a diet of self – love. Nurture yourself. Celebrate yourself. Be thankful to yourself. Strictly follow a diet like this just for a Week and Witness the Wonders 🙂

Found this beautiful poem and just had to share –

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Rains and Pakora Cravings!

And its officially the Rainy season here 😀

The first drops of rain always bring a smile on our faces and we heave a sigh of relief – hoping that Picture-of-Mumbai-in-the-rains-Bombay-Monsoon-photo-4it will now cool the soaring temperatures

Bombay/ Mumbai is at its beautiful best during the rains! And the perfect way to celebrate this dreamy atmosphere around is to sit near the window – and not just watch the rains, but enjoy the soothing sound of rain, breathing deep – taking in the freshness of the air that only a fresh rainfall provides; watching children splash around in the puddles and making paper boats and rejoicing in the smell of fresh earth! Don’t we just want to sometimes just go out there and dance in the rain?

(Picture Courtesy – wonderfulmumbai.com)

To make it even more perfect – is to now sip on the hot mint-ginger chai with some fried yummies like pakoras or the king of Mumbai street food – Vada pav!! Don’t we all crave this? Did you know – it is not some silly fancy to crave these foods during rains – but there is an actual reason behind this. Our innate cravings that come from our gut have solid logic to them.

Most mothers know and some rather dread rains as they bring with it infections – both respiratory and digestive, fevers and various other issues. Why just children, don’t we also fall ill?

Now let’s talk logic – when or why do we fall ill? Why is it that some people fall ill more easily and others don’t? The reason is Immunity or the Immune system.

Immunity is the body’s natural defense system against illness and infections. Everyday several bacteria, virus and germs attack our body. Our body shows resistance against these attacks. This resistance level depends on how strong is our immune system. Strong immune system is a key for proper functioning of the body and to fight off most diseases. For staying healthy, our immune system should be really strong

Low immunity has become a major cause of concern today owing to changes in lifestyle and our eating habits! And one of the most overlooked reasons why our immune system collapses is insufficient calorie intake.

Be it at restaurants or at parties or in trains, anywhere for that matter – one of the hot topic for conversation includes counting calories and discussing our new discovered weight loss techniques or fad diets. So people want to avoid ‘the-so called-high-calorie’ food like the plague. And yesterday I overheard an even more fantastic gyaan (I am being sarcastic here!) – “we must never give our taste buds of anything that it wants.” And let me tell you – it did not come from a fit woman – rather from the exact opposite of fit!

Given that Aunty’s logic – means no garama-garam pakoras or vada pavs! And yes a pakka chance of catching flu or cold-cough and general dullness. Coming back to what I always say – our body or gut and our innate cravings are not our dushman (enemy)! Your body is not planning and plotting all the time to ruin your “weight loss” program!

In fact – we should revere our bodies for not reacting the way it should ideally have – for all the torture we put it through in the name of diet or exercise. Many people exercise as a way to punish their bodies for over eating. To them I would like to ask – did you eat the food or your stomach grew an arm and a mouth to eat it all! You were not mindful when you ate and you literally tortured your stomach into digesting all of that and if that was not enough you run like a maniac on treadmill to now burn it all off and punish yourself! Does this even remotely make sense? But so many people do this!

We should eat and exercise from the perspective of being FIT, HEALTHY and HAPPY and not to punish ourselves. And to be honest these punishing tatics never work – because most people who may have lost “weight” doing these things always put it back on!

Shouldn’t our diet and exercise plan aim to keep us fit for the rest of our lives? Or are we meant to yo-yo from losing weight and putting it back on? – and this seems to be like on a loop!

So again – your palate is not here to disrupt your your weight loss plans. It is only trying to protect your immunity – so that you do not fall prey to a whole range of infections. To provide the system with the adequate calorie surge needed to protect from bacterial and viral and other infections does our body urge us to eat fried food. And simply because it cannot speak in the formal way – do we end up craving for these.

To my thinking minds – tell me one thing – during summers does our body not quease at the thought of eating these same fried food! This is because our gut-feelings are intelligent enough! Give your body some credit.

So it is not you being crazy with your cravings and it has nothing to do with ‘control’ or ‘willpower’ as a few people feel.

There are essential fats, like in filtered groundnut oil – being rich in antioxidants (much more than your 1 cup of green tea) that help you fight free radicals and prevent illnesses and infections. These also make your skin glow and strengthen the roots of your hair. (Are we not told to oil our hair – when we face hair fall – same logic!)

And I am talking about the pakoras and vadas that you fry at home – so you know exactly what oil you are using and you will not re-use that oil – which happens outside!  And the craving for the ginger-mint chai with these is because ginger assists your intestines to break down fat and rids your stomach of gas. That way, your smart body has taken care of what-looks-like overindulgence too.

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(Picture Courtesy – http://goanewswire.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/chai-and-pakoras-at-grand-hyatt-goa-4)

So stop cursing your body – your cravings and your calories. Eat mindfully and eat in moderation and exercise right and you will find yourself enjoying your food and yet being Fit-Healthy and Happy!

Happy Eating 😀