Because the chicken sees.

Years ago, when I first started yoga, I noticed that most of the “serious yogis” I met had some fairly specific diets. They were vegan or vegetarian and anti-GMO and pro-biotic. They did detoxes and cleanses and only ate natural unrefined sugars. But why? Was it because they were health and fitness enthusiasts or was there something about yoga that was doing this to them?

I had to do a lot of reading and research to get to an answer that made sense to me because there are a lot of elements involved in answering the question, “what is the yoga diet and, OMG, why?

I came across this story Ram Dass tells while I was researching the yoga diet as prescribed by the old traditional yogis. They believed that a sparse diet consisting of fruits and a few nuts was required to achieve spiritual enlightenment (or hunger hallucinations which may have been mistaken for the astral plane).

The story goes something like this:

A holy man gave two men each a chicken and said, “Go kill them where no one can see.” One guy went behind the fence and killed the chicken. The other guy walked around for two days and came back with the chicken. The holy man said, “You didn’t kill the chicken?” and the guys said, “well, everywhere I go, the chicken sees.”

There seem to be 5 straight forward rules when it comes to eating like a yogi.
1–Don’t eat too much.
2–Eat light, healthy, unadulterated foods which are easily digestible.
3–Eliminate foods with strong flavors and smells and reduce consumption of stimulants like caffeine and booze (um, okay).
4–Be aware of where your food comes from and how it is prepared. Avoid foods that involve violence in the sourcing. Obviously, meat requires some killing but this also applies to harvesting fruit or vegetables from a plant before it has fallen to the ground of its own accord.
5–Consecrate the food before you eat it.

The first three rules seem like what the American Heart Association has been telling us for decades–eat healthy portions of a balanced diet and you will be all set. But in yoga, it is more than that.

Those first three rules are about maintaining the physical body so it is ready and able to complete the eight limbs or stages of yoga in the quest for enlightenment. Inherent in those rules are directions for abstinence, austerity, discipline, generosity, and a breaking of bad habits with the idea being that a self-controlled person can better attain spiritual freedom.

The last two rules about awareness and consecration are clearly spiritual in nature. Most of us are good with consecrating our food before we eat it; in Christianity, that is the equivalent of saying grace at the dinner table. Amen. Done. Let’s eat.

However, remember the dudes with the chickens? Well this is where the vegetarians and vegans get on board. Yoga says that GOD is everyone and everything. He is you and me and the apple tree in the front yard–and that chicken.

In yoga, a violent act is a violent act against GOD, and the chicken sees.

This article originally published on



Yoga and the Medical Never Event

My career in the medical malpractice insurance industry has made me a discriminating consumer of healthcare.

As I write this, I am sitting in room 4423 at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, CA, with my husband who is three days orthopedic post-op. The surgery went as planned and was successful, as most procedures in American healthcare are. But on Tuesday morning, as I sat near the fishtanks in the surgical waiting area, I could only think about the procedures that don’t go well.

And in my line of work, those kinds of thoughts aren’t general in nature. They are incredibly specific; like what if the anesthesia alarms aren’t turned on and his oxygen levels drop, or what if there is an operating room fire, or what if they perform surgery on the wrong leg, or leave something behind in the surgical site, or infuse with the wrong blood type?

I think about the Never Events, because that is often what you see. In healthcare, a Never Event, also known as a Sentinel Event is an unanticipated event in the healthcare setting that results in the death or serious physical or psychological injury of a patient, not related to the natural course of that patient’s illness. In other words, an accident.


I had decided to enhance my enlightenment by working my way through Be Here Now by Ram Dass while my husband was in surgery.

I thought I chose this book because a graphical account of a Harvard psychologist on LSD who follows holy men through India seemed like less work than another book by B.K.S. Iyengar or Patanjali (no offense guys). But Ram Dass would say that the book was chosen for me and it was predetermined that I would read this book on Tuesday, August 9, 2016.

 “If you could stand back far enough and watch the whole process you would see YOU ARE A TOTALLY DETERMINED BEING. . . There are no accidents in this business at all.”–Ram Dass

The mention of accidents brought me back to Never Events because what this said was that the results of my husband’s surgery were already determined. By what or whom? By the law of karma.

The idea that my life could be governed by a Hindu system of cause and effect, like karma, in which my past actions, even past lives, determine my future isn’t really that far off the mark from what I was taught as a Christian. We have been “reaping what we sow”, per the Bible for hundreds of years.

But did that mean that a prayer for my husband during surgery was pointless because my husband’s karma had already determined the result and we were just waiting for “thy will to be done?” I was starting to see why so many Christian leaders are less than excited about the expansion of yoga in the West. Not to mention the fact that in Christianity, the only way for a person to receive forgiveness is through the grace of God. Karma is more of a bank accounting system based on debits and credits. But isn’t God still the bank president?

The good news is that my husband’s karma account must be pretty good, because he is just fine. There were no accidents.


This article was originally published on

Photo credit: Be Here Now; Ram Dass; From Bindu to Ojas; p.14