Still hungry? Yoga, TCM, and the 5 Tastes

Food and nutrition is a spicy topic in wellness.

And it should be, right? Nourishing the body has many meanings and we can’t ignore that what we put into our mouths effects our energy level, weight, mood, sleep, digestion, and overall health.

We all have strong opinions about what to eat, how to eat, and when to eat.

An insight from yoga practice is the realization that we are energetic beings and that everything we do, from what we eat, to what we think, to how we move and behave, either nourishes this energy or depletes it. We glean a new understanding that "we are what we eat" and begin to subconsciously shift food and lifestyle decisions. 

TCM's 5 tastes can guide those choices. 

According to this ancient wisdom, incorporating all 5 tastes (which correspond with the 5 Elements) into a meal satiates the palette, regulates emotions, strengthens the internal organs, aids digestion, and improves immune function.

The 5 tastes are:
  • Sour
  • Bitter
  • Sweet
  • Pungent/Spicy  
  • Salty

Next time a meal feels bland, boring, or unfulfilling, examine which of the 5 tastes are missing from the meal, especially the current season’s taste.

Late summer season’s taste is sweet.

Think of all of ripe fruits, vegetables, and herbs in season now, juicy and fragrant.

Doesn’t a refreshing sweet summer ice cream, fruit smoothie, or garden salad both feel and taste the best at this time of year over another season?

And it’s likely many of us are still enjoying the early summer taste of bitter — think of that as a charred taste like a summer bbq, a chili cook-off, or enjoying raw vegetables to cool down on a hot summer day. 

As we move later into the the fall harvest, the Element changes with the season to welcome spicy/pungent foods to the table like root vegetables, stuffed peppers, garlic, and onions. The traditional Thanksgiving feast is a great example of eating for this season and the Element!

Winter moves us in the salty taste and spring, the sour taste. (I’ll write more about each of these as they approach.)

While certain tastes will be more prevalent depending on the seasonal foods available, strive to activate all 5 flavors throughout the year to feel nourished from the inside out and have a few culinary adventures to boot!

The seasonal nature of the 5 tastes helps us eat fresh, locally, and sustainably, for the body, mind, spirit and Mother Earth!

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