Inspiring people offer their perspective on what it means to Eat Like a Yogi, and how we can all better serve the planet and each other.
“Food is the most basic medicine that exists on the planet.”
Nicki Doane is an American yoga teacher and co-founder and co-director of the Maya Yoga Studio on Maui, HI. I recently met up with her on Maui to talk about food, teaching yoga, and how we can all do our part to improve the current state of affairs.
Q: When and how did you come to yoga?
A: I took my first yoga class in the Winter of 1988 at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where I was enrolled. It was life changing, to say the least. The class was a general Hatha yoga class and I quite literally fell in love with the practice. It all felt so familiar to me somehow…
I ended up taking two other yoga classes that the University offered and the last one was an Ashtanga Yoga class in 1991, which led to me traveling to India in the fall of 1991, after I graduated college. The rest is history!
Q: Do you have a favorite pose?
A: My favorite pose is savasana, because it is the culmination of the entire practice, and it is only amazing after a thorough and satisfying yoga practice.
Q: What does it mean to you to Eat Like a Yogi?
A: For me, eating like a yogi means to eat the food that makes you happy. That was a direct teaching of Krishnamacharya, who was my teacher Pattabhi Jois’s teacher…he was also the teacher of BKS Iyengar. The food that makes us truly happy is nutritious, delicious, and made with love.
I also am a vegetarian, which follows the yogic principle of ahimsa, or nonviolence.
Q: Is there a correlation between the way you eat and your yoga practice?
A: I rarely eat before I practice yoga, unless it’s an afternoon practice or a restorative practice. Also, I am conscious of not overeating, as that makes me feel sluggish, and I prefer food give me energy—not take it away. Although every once in a while, overeating has its place, too!
Q: What ideas or initiatives that are taking place around the world right now do you find most encouraging?
A: I am fascinated by the people who are looking to find alternative protein sources that are not animal related. The amount of resources that the meat industry uses is shocking. It is an old paradigm that desperately needs to change. I am also thrilled with the electric car industry…now if only I could afford a Tesla, haha!
Q: Which item in the Manifesto do you feel is most relevant right now, and why?
A: The last one, number 10: The most important ingredient is love. Love truly is the most important thing ever. It is the single greatest soul food. We are not really alive if we don’t have love in our lives.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A: Food is the most basic medicine that exists on the planet. How most industrialized nations eat is frightening. Between the advertising and the fast food industry, most people don’t stand a chance. I think all fast food and all sodas should have a massive tax on them and healthy whole foods should be subsidized.
I just did a 10-day transformation cleanse and the hardest part of it was not eating sugar for 10 days. I would say that most of us are addicted to sugar and it is in most processed food. It’s worth taking a break from, as things like cancer and many other diseases feed off sugar. And the freaking government actually still subsidizes it!
Be an example and share your food choices in a loving, non-judgmental way. And then just wait. Not everyone can change easily. Most people would rather amputate a toe than change their diet. So much emotional stuff is tied into our food choices. But eating well is the best defense we have against disease!