What do you eat on a yoga retreat?
One of the most common questions asked of retreat organisers is ‘what do you eat on a yoga retreat?’ And, depending on who is leading the retreat, and where you will be staying, the answer will differ. When you choose a yoga break it is generally assumed that you want to eat in a way that will help restore and recharge. If your retreat is in a hotel or guest house however, there may well be a full menu with some ‘healthier’ options.
Yogic outlooks on food
On the other hand, if you are staying in group accommodation, and have a resident cook, the menus usually reflect yogic values. These will almost certainly mean eating fresh health giving foods. But many yoga teachers and schools follow the yogic directive of ‘Ahimsa’ or do no harm, so offer only vegetarian or vegan food, often organically grown.
I’m on a special diet – will I be catered for?
The good news is that if you follow a special diet you will almost certainly be looked after. My experience is that retreat chefs and leaders expect to cater for a range of dietary needs and preferences. Good nutrition is part of a yoga teacher training. Many yoga teachers avoid foods that are difficult to digest, such as gluten and lactose. But it is always worth informing the organiser of your needs at the time of booking. And nut allergies can be a problem if a chef is cooking for a group so do check.
I’m a fussy eater – will I go hungry?
Yoga retreats are about nurturing and nourishing. Again I can only speak from experience and mine is, that unless on a detox like our Ayurvedic Ama Pachana, you will find that you eat more than at home. And you will have time to enjoy and digest your meal. Even with set menus, there is usually a good choice of dishes and something for everyone. And most cooks will be only too happy adapt dishes to cater for fads and phobias.
Why we are Yoga AND Spice!
Food is an important part of the Yogandspice philosophy and all retreats at Valley View. The quality of our energy is directly related to the air that we breathe. If food is not freshly grown and freshly cooked then it lacks energy, also known in the yoga world as Qi or Prana. There is an anecdote which highlights this in Why The Chinese Don’t Count Calories. When living in Beijing we had an unfortunate invasion of little creatures – but they left the processed and packaged foods untouched, knowing it had no nutrient value!
Ancient teachings from both East and West agree that the energy of an ingredient (whether it heats or cools the body), and the balance of flavours in a meal, impact our health. This is a big subject, so suffice to say here that we use herbs and spices to create dishes that are tasty and nourishing for the whole body.
Gut health is a massive subject at the moment. Chemists and health food shops abound with products to help achieve it. Simply eating locally grown food in season as in traditional diets can bring back the balance naturally. We do use spices from other cultures which have a tradition of eating for health. And you’ll find your fair share of pulses and rice on the menu in tasty dhals and stews. However, our main ingredients are those most suited to our own soil and climate – and your digestion. We host yoga retreats in North Yorkshire so, while Yorkshire pudding might not be on the menu every time you’ll be amazed what we can do with cabbage, potatoes, courgettes and beets! And our greens selection includes radish, beet and turnip leaves. Some of the most nutritious greens available but seldom served in shops as they just don’t travel.
Something to keep you sweet
And we do believe that we all need a little sweetness to keep us sweet so there is usually a daily treat on offer. How could you have a yoga retreat in North Yorkshire without some home baking? We use our own pumpkins and apples to make pies and cakes – and our vegan chocolate brownies are legendary.
There is always an option
At Yogandspice we try to follow the yogic teaching of Ahimsa, do no harm. To us that means not eating meat and only using our own eggs and a limited number of organic dairy products. And we find that for most guests, even confirmed meat eaters, a vegetarian or vegan interlude is a positive experience. But if not, it’s just a ten minute walk through the woods to the pub.