I’ve decided to fast this week. Usually I start my fast in the evening – skipping supper but we took our visitors to dinner at relatives last night so that was not going to happen. So instead I’ve started today in the morning with a breakfast that I did not break.
I have fasted once or twice a year for the past two or three years. My last was just before Christmas (after Christmas would have been a better idea!). The first day or two is tough – the occasional headache and pastiness in the mouth are particularly unpleasant. After that it’s ok and the way I feel after day 2 makes up for it. It’s hard to explain but basically my focus, alertness, energy levels and general well-being seem to increase. Essentially I feel content. I don’t think you need to fast to feel this way – just stop eating the crap out. But fasting gives the digestive system a break and make sure that no junk is going in. My desire to improve my diet and make it simple and cleaner is reinforced by what I feel during my fasts.
The unexpected fringe benefit that I discovered when I first fasted was the extra time I had – it’s amazing how much time we spend cooking and eating. Also, it makes me appreciate all I have and brings perspective. In comparison to the real deprivation some people suffer, what I subject myself to amounts to a small discomfort – and yet after my fast I come again to appreciate how fortunate I am to have what I have, and how good it is to have something, anything, to eat.
My fast is based on the Sivananda approach to Yoga. I’m going to abstain from food completely for three days and follow with a day of fresh fruit/juices (no citrus or bananas though), a day of salad vegetables, and finally a day of steamed vegetables and millet/buckwheat before easing back into the my usual diet. Let’s see how it goes.
It was a late night again and no practice this morning but I can practice this evening anytime after work as I don’t need to worry about the two-hour gap after eating (since I’m not eating). I’ll practice Ashtanga style for a day or two and see how it goes. I may need to tone it down to Hatha. Strength-Training is obviously out of the question for the next week.
Practice on Sunday morning was strange as I’d practiced Saturday evening – to be on the mat for two 90-minute sessions in a 12 hour span felt like a lot of asana. My session that Saturday evening was poorly focused. A decade ago, I had a hamburger a year or so after becoming a vegetarian. I reacted immediately – I broke into a sweat and my throat felt rough. I also remember feeling a kind of buzz – like you might get from caffeine. This episode was the catalyst making me a vegetarian for good. The shock I felt about the way the burger made me felt has kept me off meat for 9 years. Now that isn’t even a factor – after not having had it for so long, I just don’t want to eat it.
Anyway, something similar happened to me this weekend. I had a pre-natal class on Saturday with my wife. A half hour into the class I was close to falling asleep. So during the next break I went across the road to a Tim Horton’s get coffee. I got a large, black no sugar – my first since December. 4 sips into it I was wired – my attention and energy levels were now sky-high. But 9 hours later I was struggling harder than ever to maintain focus for my asanas – I was all over the place mentally and my concentration has never been so poor. And 13 hours later I had trouble getting to sleep – this is something I have hardly ever experienced (usually fall asleep so quickly that I don’t remember lying in bed). I felt crap the next day – I felt as though I had hardly slept at all. I’m pretty sure I won’t be drinking coffee again for a long time.
In response to my last blog, somebody commented on my use of Roundup to clear my brush before replanting with wildflower and wild grass seed. They questioned my calling it eco-friendly; I referred to it as such because I understood that Roundup was biodegradeable and that all traces of it were gone in 7 days – I don’t know this for a fact; I relied on what The Wildflower Farm (the place I bought my seed and consulted with) say about it. I don’t know enough about the product or the company (Monsanto) that brands, markets and sells the product (although I do know what a lot of people have to say about them!) to comment one way or another on the product or the company. Therefore I will remove the reference to Roundup as eco-friendly.