The subtle link between yoga and veganism. By Sharda ten Hove
When I was 10-years-old I saw a documentary about modern animal farming. It was the last time I ever ate meat. From that day onwards I did not look at a hamburger as a piece of meat but I saw the naked truth: a dead animal that suffered dearly throughout his or her unduly-short life. This was almost 35 years ago.
Back then, if you wanted to know about animal (lack of) welfare, you had to search deep to find the answers we take for granted nowadays. Today, there is no one who does not know that animals raised for consumption suffer. Many choose to avert their eyes from the extent of that suffering, however.
This choice leads only to more suffering: first, the intense agony that more and more animals have to endure because we choose to ignore reality (which is a bliss to factory farm corporations); and second, our own suffering – for running away from oneself can never lead to truthful happiness or inner peace.
The yoga shift
From a young age I have always been quite aware of the suffering in the world, whether this concerned animal rights or human rights. It was hard for me to see that my friends or family were not overly occupied with the unequally divided happiness in the world. People are often far too busy with their own lives and are all too quick to shut out a lot of things that don’t necessarily affect them.
However, I have seen people change their lifestyle when they start practicing yoga. People take up yoga for all sorts of different reasons: whether this is fitness, losing weight, staying healthy or looking for something that helps them through more difficult times.
Whatever the reason that draws a person to this practice, at some point, something starts to shift from within. Yoga makes us more aware of our body, our thoughts and actions and about the world we live in. You can say that yoga is a process of examining our habits, behaviours and their consequences. We start seeing things as they truly are, as if a veil is lifted. We might not like the picture we see, but we are given the opportunity to truly face ourselves, each and every time we step on our mat.
And every time we step off our mat we are given the choice to make changes in our daily lives which we know are good for us and very often righteous for others.
The aim in yoga is to bring about a change in the quality of the mind so that we can perceive more from a place within – a place in which there is no separation between me or you or the animal you eat.
That also extends to a much wider level too. In this sense, all things are connected on some kind of universal level. It’s pretty deep, but the simple bit is to merely give yoga a try and stick with it for a while to see how you get on.
Not all yoga students are vegans, and not all vegans are yoga students. And that’s fine. But there is a tendency among yoga followers to gain that heightened perspective, a sense of introspection, that then allows them to make more informed choices.
Give it a go. If nothing else, yoga is really good for you anyway and your body will love you for it. Namaste.
Taken from March/April 2015 (Issue 4) Vegan Life Magazine