The Link Between ‘Healthy Eating’ and Yoga

The Link Between ‘Healthy Eating’ and Yoga

As the popularity of yoga grows, it seems to be accompanied by an onslaught of ‘healthy eating’ ideologies and the simultaneous rise of vegan, vegetarian, organically-conscious lifestyles.
While it may seem that every second yoga studio is now all of a sudden expanding and exhaling coffee machines, fruit juicers, tables, chairs and funky hipster tunes from the depths of their cashew-nut strewn duffel bags, the trend of new health food cafés emerging in cohorts with yoga studios (and vice versa) has far deeper-rooted sit bones than you may think.

Yoga teaches us to slowly but surely begin to allow only the positive, healthy, and beneficial thoughts and beliefs to enter into and pass through our minds. It makes sense, so, that in order to propel these thoughts into action and help our bodies manifest them outward into the world, we must enlist the help of the fuel which we take in – the catalyst for these reactions, interactions and experiences; our food.

External Influences

The food we ingest has just as much an effect on our minds and bodies as the experiences we ingest, and vice versa – the relationships we have, the environment in which we live, conversations we engage in on a daily basis, and our senses (the yogic concept of ‘Pratyahara’ explains more about this). It’s not often that these aspects are displayed in parallel to one another, and yet they are eternally intertwined and so integrally linked that we very often find ourselves feeling the effects of an imbalance in one area without being able to pinpoint exactly which or where it is.

It is precisely this awareness and ability to correctly identify where we are suffering a surplus or deficiency of energy – be it physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual – which yoga helps us to cultivate.

“Healthy Eating” and Yoga


The increase in popularity of veganism, vegetarianism, and health food based diets and cafés amongst yogis (a title I think it’s fair to give anyone who frequents a yoga studio on a regular basis) therefore can be seen as a means to further engage with their practice of yoga; to deepen the connection to both our bodies and minds, and to nourish all those relationships, exchanges, and actions that can only successfully be carried out when sufficiently balanced.
By ingesting naturally sourced, uncontaminated and organic foods which have not already been processed or passed through their own experiences and external influences (many mass-produced products/animals/animal-related products), we are minimising the processing and energy which our bodies and minds must expend in doing so. This and the fact that most organically-sourced products have a very nutrient-dense composition means that most (if not all) of our required daily intake can be obtained from a balanced diet of good-quality natural produce.

I’ve avoided this topic for a while as this balancing of energy is something I’ve struggled with a great deal myself, yet which has drastically improved since becoming deeply engaged with my yoga practice and observing a vegan diet. It has honestly changed my entire perception not just of veganism but of ‘healthy eating’ as an entire concept, and also made me realise that there are many reasons why more and more people are choosing to further engage with it – this link with yoga is just one of many.

Conscious Living

The fact that yoga studios are now using this branch of yogic thought to further expand their businesses and create great cafés, great food, and great atmospheres for like-minded people to socialise and communicate I see only as a good thing, serving as a great means of exposure for the yoga side of their business and if nothing else a great way to promote a healthier, more conscious lifestyle.

The Secret of 61 – Dublin’s Stop on the Subway

Foodswings Reviews

Platform 61 – South William Street

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Barely a subway stop away from St. Stephen’s Green, your ticket to Platform 61 is finally here as the newly-opened underground kitchen cooks up some of the tastiest grub South of the city, providing a service worthy of the VIPs catered for at the elusive ‘Platform 61’ on the New York subway for which it is named. They don’t take Leap Cards, but you’re sure to be warmly welcomed on arrival!

Reserved for presidents and art-enthusiasts lucky enough to be on the guestlist for one of Andy Warhol’s famous ‘underground parties’, the story of the secret platform beneath New York’s  Waldorf Astoria Hotel is a treat in itself to listen to, the various Warhol quotes around the walls and abstract banana signposts in the bathroom reminding you at regular intervals that there is more to this restaurant than meets the eye.

 As you enter through golden doors reminiscent of 1960s New York elevators and decor Don Draper (Mad Men) would be proud of, you can’t help but feel slightly disorientated as the black marble walls mirror one another, making great use of a small space yet still succeeding in coming across extremely classy.

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Only in it’s third week of business here in Dublin, there was no sign of any maintenance work or staff ‘only learning’ the ropes, and the service ran smooth and punctual from one course to the next. A mixture of options on the menu caught my eye as we debated over what direction to take, eventually settling on the ‘Italian Mozzarella and Tomato’ dish and the ‘Shrimp Gambas’ to start. I’m a fan of small menus as it minimalises decisions, but to be fair everything looked very good and we weren’t disappointed, each dish being served promptly and proving realistic portion-sizes, unlike many of the new food-stops that have sprung up recently around Dublin.

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 The steak was sampled, as was the Superfood Salad with added chicken, and although prices slightly outreached that of the average commuter dinner it was made up for in taste and quality, the sweet potato fries on the side adding a delicious kick and nice reminder that eating out doesn’t always have to mean greasy, unhealthy & unnecessary indulgence.

 Our munching on the shrimp and subsequent pomegranate seeds in my Superfood Salad was accompanied by an absolutely killer playlist in the background, the likes of Alt-J and Foals providing the icing on top of the dessert that we were too full to order, though in hindsight I would have liked to try the Flourless Nut Brownie.

The lunch and brunch menus also looked incredible, the ‘Stun Bun’ in particular catching my eye, a ‘grilled chicken fillet on a brioche bun with guacamole, tomato, onion, baby gem and homemade tomato relish served with spicy potato wedges’. Due to it being still in the early stages of the restaurant opening, however, the waiter informed me that they had yet to start serving this menu, instead focusing for now on the dinner options. I will definitely be back to sample a Stun Bun when they do!!

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A glass or two of Chilean White wine and a house speciality beer cocktail later (a delicious concoction of Luxembourg-brewed beer, lime and apple juice) the whole experience was over too soon as we had to leave to catch the next train home.

Navigating our way out to the world back above ground it was easy to see how Platform 61 would go unnotticed, a haven glowing golden down below one of the busiest streets for bars and restaurants in the city.

Overall we were extremely pleased with the experience, and will definitely be recommending the service for anyone wishing to be transported back in time as they chow down on great food, the journey from starters right through to a final farewell complimentary glass of wine proving comfortable and enjoyable, in a stimulating and artistic environment.

 ‘Mind the Gap’ and be wary of the steep steps on the way out of the platform – especially if you’ve sampled some of the beer cocktails!!

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Useful links:

Platform 61 on Facebook
Platform 61 on Twitter (@Platform61)
Platform 61 website

Making Banana Matoke in Uganda

Matoke, or ‘banana-mush’ as I christened it during our short trip there in October 2013, is one of Uganda’s staple dishes. The consistency of mashed potato with a distinct flavour of banana, this complex carbohydrate serves as the main source of sustenance for many poverty-stricken families in Kayunga, Uganda, and is regularly eaten straight from the leaves in which it is cooked.
As we carried the newly chopped branch of banana-tree back through the shanty village of rusting huts and makeshift washing lines sporting colorful arrays of materials, a gathering a of local semi-naked children gathered pied-piper like behind us. Jumping and hollering and swatting one another out of the way to allow themselves a better view to stand briefly in front of the giant metal contraption they somehow knew was recording them, the din of their excitement and swarm-like congestion around us almost caused me to drop the 2-metre long waxy leaves of the banana tree I had been entrusted with. My charge, a 17-year-old girl named Jan, looked back over her shoulder and laughed heartily at my struggle, as she had only minutes earlier when I had failed to muster the strength required to chop through the 2-foot width of trunk, even after repeated hacking and several grumbles of frustration. She had simply taken the machet from my hand, tipped the spot on the tree where she planned to chop, and in one large swooping motion far more powerful than any of us could have anticipated from her, amputated the thick branch from it’s bark.
“Like that!” she proclaimed proudly.
The brief respite from shame which followed my failure was broken as I tried to move the large bunch of bananas that had fallen with the branch. A sensation akin to taking that extra step in the dark at the top of the stairs when there is none, I found I had severely underestimated the weight of the cluster of 30 or 40 bananas. It wouldn’t budge.
Again Jan chuckled happily to herself and, having fashioned a circular crown-like base for herself out of the thick leaves on the ground, hoisted the bunch of almost-yellow fruit atop her head, and proceeded to walk steadily back through the trees the way we’d come. I was left, cheeks burning, to wrap several long waxy leaves in strips and bind them securely together, following my guide like a lost puppy as I struggled with the substantially lighter option of the leaves of the tree upon my head.
Once we’d made it back through the herd of local children, we set to work on the front porch of the shed-sized dwelling where Jan lived and supported her widowed mother, and 5 younger siblings. Skinning each banana, and placing it inside a pot-shaped weave formed from several of the branch-leaves, the process itself was fairly straightforward, yet it was the pace at which Jan worked which shocked me. I had barely finished skinning my third banana, and she had already moved on to her second bunch.
When all had been successfully added to the pot, I was put on clean-up duty while Jan skillfully lit a small fire inside the doorway of the homestead, and placed the ball of leaves containing the raw bananas upon it. Straightening herself up and casting a pitying glance as I scrambled to collect all the stray banana-skins, she announced with a sigh;
‘And now we wait’.

Seaweed and Martinis

Foodswings Reviews – The Meeting House

Burmese Cuisine in the heart of Temple Bar!

This place has been on my ‘must-try-sometime’ list of restaurants and bars in Dublin that I walk past regularly for a while now, although for no particular reason– it just looks very cool from the outside. Graffitied exterior and prime location off Meeting House Square in Temple Bar (hence the name) aside, as soon as you walk into The Meeting House it’s clear the place means business with it’s colourfully decorated and well-lit walls scattered with Marilyn Monroe-meets-The Joker quotes and pictures that are guaranteed to get even the most awkward of Tinder-dates talking.
That’s not all there would be to discuss, as every single option on the menu contained something we found very difficult to pronounce, and we mused for a good fifteen minutes over all the exotic looking choices. As there were 3 of us, we decided eventually to go with the menu option of 6 dishes for €36 (it was a Monday), as opposed to the 3 for €21 that would have suited just two. We were chuffed to discover that all prices were €3 cheaper on Sundays and Mondays, a fact which greatly influenced our decisions and indulgent sides!
I must point out here that all the portions themselves were quite small – think 3 tapas between 2 people, 6 between three – but let’s not get ahead of ourselves, it was dinnertime!
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My choice, which was also to share (when it comes to tapas, I find things generally don’t get too heated so long as everyone is on mutual terms about the whole ‘sharing’ thing!) was a Fillet of Sea Bass with Stem Broccoli in a fish broth infused with Lemongrass, and the Crab Salad with strips of Mango and Peanuts. This was extremely tasty, however slightly small, and definitely would not have served as a full dinner.

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As we had all agreed we would try each others’ dishes, I also succeeded in tasting the Tuna Sashimi on a bed of seaweed, Prawn Tempura, and the Organic Chicken Coconut Curry, all of which were delicious – the chicken curry was probably the only dish big enough to be considered a satisfying full meal in itself, but we enjoyed picking and tasting, also ordering a side of Sweet Potato Fries because let’s be honest, who doesn’t order Sweet Potato Fries when they’re on the menu?!
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Although initially being refused entry as we had arrived ten minutes prior to opening at 5.30pm (talk about eager eaters!!), the service proved itself both speedy and cheerful, with our drinks order arriving promptly before the food, and being checked back consistently every 10-15 minutes to ensure our continued satisfaction.
A good selection of craft beers such as Brew Dog and Five Lamps Lager kept us chirpy throughout the meal, and instead of asking for a dessert menu we decided to indulge in some of the extremely attractive-looking cocktails following the 6 empty plates’ hasty departure from the table in the arms of the attractive waiter. The ‘Pornstar Martini’ came complete with half a passion fruit floating on the top, while the decision to sample a classic ‘Old-Fashioned’ really allowed us to channel our inner Don Draper from Mad Men, with a curled orange-rind and crystallized glass only partially masking the strength of the whiskey.
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Overall, our group thoroughly enjoyed the visit to The Meeting House, and our decision to move elsewhere for a final drink was only made because we felt another ‘Old-Fashioned’ would have sent us too far over the edge! The fact that it was a Monday and everything was a whole 3 euro cheaper (€6.66 for all dishes and drinks on Sundays and Mondays!!) really added to our cheerfulness as we bid farewell to the establishment, accidentally spilling some candlewax on the counter as we tried to read some of the other quotes written on the walls inside.

While we were lucky that our choice of day was in accordance to the cheaper menu prices, Tuesday-Saturday prices would still warrant a visit, with all dishes and drinks standing at €9.99. If you’re seeking a bigger feed however, you’d be better off ordering the 3 or 6 dishes deal, depending on the size of your company – Burmese Tapas would be a better description of the single menu options, but for light and exotic bites The Meeting House succeeds in every way. Overall atmosphere was extremely pleasant and welcoming, despite the rain outside, and the playlist was great. Will surely be returning soon – if only for the generous cocktail sizes!

Useful Links:
The Meeting House on Facebook 
The Meeting House Website