Eating with Your Hands – A Practice to Explore

pallavi_damera- food cooked by meWe are intending to explore mindful eating at our upcoming Weekend Yoga Intensive, Rooted in Practice. Rooted in Practice is intended to be a mixed-level, urban yoga retreat and a chance to dive deeper into the practice and conversation of yoga. Read more about Emma’s experience with mindful eating in this week’s post.


I generally try to avoid starting stories with the sentence “When I was in India…” because I’m a yoga teacher that tries to show that not all yoga teachers fit the stereotype of yoga teachers. What’s the stereotype? You know: did their teacher training in India, is a vegetarian, wears mala beads all the time, drinks smoothies, basically everything in this hilarious video. I try to drink coffee and eat meat in public, and wear something other than yoga pants, and talk about things other than yoga. But, I have been to India (though not for my yoga teacher training), so sometimes I do need to start stories with the sentence “When I was in India…”. So here we go.

When I was in India, I learned to eat with my hands. It was awesome. At first I was kind of uncomfortable eating with my hands (because the food was served super hot! Ouch!) but when I got used to it, I didn’t want to go back to utensils. There was something wonderfully sensual about eating with my hands. My fingers got to feel the true texture and weight of my food. It was neat to feel the slipperiness of oiled foods, the texture of leaves and grains, the heat and fibres of meat.

Another practice I was introduced to while in India was eating silently for the first ten minutes of a meal. It was this combination of eating with my hands and concentrating on my food without talking to others that really opened up my experience of food. I felt like I had never really tasted anything before! When the first ten minutes of silence was over and people started to talk, I sometimes felt disappointed, because as conversation began, I felt like the flavour of the food receded.

When I got back from India, I stopped eating with my hands. I kept at it for a few months, because I enjoyed it so much, but eventually I was getting so many questions about it, that I gave it up. The enjoyment of eating with my hands was lost in having to explain it all the time. Now (when I remember) it’s something that I enjoy when I’m eating alone. It’s delightful to navigate slippery oatmeal or eggs in the morning. Green salads are definitely easier to eat with hands rather than forks. I still have a hard time with rice, but I’m slowly remembering the various techniques I learned in India; making a ball of food in my palm and then popping that into my mouth, stirring the food with my fingers to reduce the heat.  

rooted in practice may intensiveAt our upcoming urban retreat, Rooted in Practice, we will share lunch together and explore different styles of mindful eating. Leena and I look forward to the group that will form over the course of this weekend and will include meals together as part of building community and connection. We hope that you will join us for this connective weekend together. 

2012-11-02-09-09-42 copyEmma Dines is the manager of Queen Street Yoga. She loves writing, visiting thrift stores and going for walks in the woods. She also loves cartwheeling, sewing and making her own kimchi.


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