Friday, October 8, 2010


The US mascot is a scavenger? Yuk.

Here are several eating modalities to which I've been exposed during my time practicing ashtanga vinyasa yoga.

The word "diet" has been emptied of relevant meaning, so I'm going with "eating modalities" until I come up with a better one.

My friend Tony's roommate was a scavenger --- someone help me with the correct name for this subculture --- but Tony's roomie was essentially a vegetarian. Except for scavenged meat.

As you can imagine, the scavenged-animal food sources in Southern California amounted to road-kill --- squirrels, dogs, the occasional coyote.

I heard there were Raw scavengers, too, as in: they ate uncooked meat.

When I lived in San Francisco, friends practiced with "The Watermelon Man." He ate only watermelon for four months.

Apparently, at one point "The Watermelon Man" switched to oranges. I didn't hear for how long; I did hear the citric acid stripped the enamel off his teeth.

Stripped the enamel right off.
In the same family as the Watermelon Man are the fruitarians, who eat only fruit. I'm not sure if they can cook the fruit, so perhaps they're also considered Raw?

Of note, I met a Fruitarian outside the yoga world. I was at a Fourth of July barbecue some years back where I met this kid with a shall we say interesting smell and glazed-over, sunken eyes.

He'd ridden a bike from Vancouver, Canada to San Diego down the 101. He ate only fruit, and mostly bananas. When was served at the barbecue, he pulled out a bunch of bananas and ate five.

I asked him why he ate only fruit, and he declared that one, the brain ran on sugar, and two, fruit is sugar. Therefore fruit was the ideal brain food.

I have a rough grasp of neurobiology, enough to know there were gaping holes in his logic as well as his knowledge of nutrition and anatomy.

He aggrieved a group of Southern California barbecue-goers, all with veggie burgers in hand, by telling them, "I used to feel like you did --- but I'm beyond that now. You wouldn't understand how I feel. You're just not capable."

These dudes are vegetarians who only eat uncooked fruit and vegetables. I'm not sure their dairy intake --- I imagine there are sub-groups within groups.

Alien fruit that smells like rotting corpses.
I met Doug in Mysore; he's a very charismatic raw foodist who once had the chance to meet George W. Bush. He shook the former President's hand, looked him dead in the eye, and said, "Mr. President, I believe raw food is the future American diet." He also told stories of utterly depraved orgies of durian consumption.

In his house in Mysore, there were hundreds of coconuts in the kitchen, stacked floor to ceiling and completely covering one wall, a feat I'd only ever seen accomplished before in a dorm room with empty Pabst cans.

Once a week, Doug had a truckload of coconuts delivered to his house. He'd also visited local machine shops to have fabricated a unique coconut puncturing device that let him quickly get the juice. This way, he didn't risk severing his fingertips with a machete.

There was also a fairly healthy sized raw community in San Diego, with several teachers and practitioners at the Ashtanga Yoga Center practicing this eating method. A couple guys who used to practice at the studio maintained a raw house, in which all members agreed to follow raw principles.

Oh man. Just like a
straight-edge X: bad idea.
This is no meat, seafood, or dairy. I've met a few vegan ashtanga practitioners through the years, but I don't know any who have stuck with it --- doubtless they're out there, though.

Veganism appears to be very threaded in Portland culture, as many restaurants and cafes offer vegan menu choices and baked goods. Prasad Cafe, at Yoga Pearl, offers a vegan, mostly raw menu. The Bachelor Bars and the raw cheesecake kill!

The ancient Indian system of wellness emphasizes a healthy digestive system through eating according to one's dosha, or constitution type. What's interesting to me is that it's not inherently vegetarian or vegan, and diet is one of the first variables its practitioners adjust in order to address health issues.

I want to do a bit more reading to see if its principles are truly cross-cultural --- I'm sure Michael Pollan would agree that laying off over-stimulating and processed foods is a good thing.

I haven't honestly run into many macrobiotic yoga practitioners --- perhaps this manner of eating never gained popularity in the yoga world? I do recall hearing Mattew Sweeney jokingly refer to it as "macroneurotic."

There's a macrobiotic restaurant in Tokyo in which, to the horror of the assembled wait-staff, I attempted to eat my bodyweight in gobo root/burdock.

No meat! This is a popular lifestyle choice within yoga circles. It's the food mode that appears to be the most popular first transition one makes when the practice of asana initiates a deeper look at other quality-of-life factors.

The "standard American diet." I'm not sure what this constitutes, though I imagine it means simply to eat "whatever, whenever." Most consistent yoga practitioners seem to think a bit about what they eat, though, so I'm not sure how common this modality is among yoga students. Certainly it doesn't seem to hold for long once a regular yoga practice takes root.