Kitchen Sadhana

sadhana is a spiritual practice, or discipline, done repetitively and consistently for the refinement of Self.  Kitchen Sadhana is the practice of conscious food preparation.

My yoga teacher says “yoga starts in the kitchen.” High vibe food, lovingly made with our own hands, or “happy food” as my teacher calls it, is the earthy, most tangible foundation of awake living.

The food we eat becomes the tissue of our physical body. Happy food makes for happy, healthy tissue. Junk food, or “grumpy food” as guru-ji likes to say, makes for unhappy and ultimately confused and sick tissue. If we fill our trunk with junk we can’t hope to thrive or experience our potential.

We want to nourish to flourish, and that means shining the light of awareness into our kitchen. Us Yogis like to take control of our biochemistry to experience the bliss that is our true nature. Our bodies are our laboratory, and so is our kitchen.

Kitchen Sadhana For Modern Times

I first came across the concept of Kitchen Sadhana in Maya Tiwari’s Ayurvedic book A Life of Balance. Her kitchen sadhana involves lots of hand grinding grains and spices. I’ve taken the concept and adapted it liberally for my preference for faster-paced food prep.

I don’t like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen daily, but I love spending a 1-2 hour chunk of time each week purposefully on my Kitchen Sadhana.

When I’m hungry I want to eat NOW. I don’t want to jump through the hoops of deciding what to make while looking through cupboards and the fridge to see what ingredients are on hand. But I also want to eat well.

Behavioural science shows us that if we want to take certain actions, like making better food choices, we have to make it as easy as possible for ourselves to do this. Otherwise, it just won’t happen.

I find this to be so very true.  If I’m trying to elevate my food choices to nourish myself better than I have in the past, I need to make decisions around how this is going to happen and what this next version of myself would like to eat ahead of time.

If I wait until the moment when I’m stepping into the kitchen after a long day working to decide what to eat, it’s already too late. I’m probably maxed out on decision fatigue and in the split second it takes to decide what to make I’m highly likely to step on the old, well-worn path and repeat old patterns, because that’s easy.

It’s much easier to make decisions and consciously plan better food choices for the week ahead of time. My kitchen sadhana is my opportunity to do this. To take some time, when I’m not hungry, in a rush, or needing to make food quickly, to align my kitchen with the sort of nourishment I want to gift myself in the coming week.

Why You Want a Kitchen Sadhana

Each time we eat we’re making an offering to our physical body. We have an opportunity at every meal to shape who we’re evolving into each day through conscious food choices.

A single meal might not seem like a big deal but consider this, we eat three meals a day, 265 days a year for an average lifespan of 81 years, that’s 88,695 opportunities to have a conscious and healing and nourishing interaction with food.

Each encounter is an opportunity to step into greater health and vitality, or to create inner sludge and toxins – ama in Ayurveda- that eventually leads us to disease. So there’s a lot at stake. The foundation of our future wellbeing lies in our kitchen today. Is your kitchen set up in such a way that that making the best possible food choices is the path of least resistance?

How To Create Your Own Kitchen Sadhana

Ask yourself:

  • How do I want to nourish myself in this next phase?
  • What do I want to eat this coming week?
  • What can I prepare ahead of time to make it super easy for me to do this?

My Kitchen Sadhana usually takes places on a Saturday or Sunday. I might stick some music on and get stuck into the fun of cleaning, tidying, soaking, drying, washing, chopping, and whatever else needs doing to pave the way for a healthy week full of happy food.

Here are some of the things I might enjoy doing as part of my kitchen sadhana time:

  • Clearing up cupboards. I find things can get a bit disordered in the busy-ness of mid-week so this is a time to straighten things out and put things away in an orderly fashion so I can quickly navigate the kitchen during the week.
  • Stock check: I check what I’ve got in stock so I can plan meals around what I already have and avoid wastage, or buying and stocking more than I need. I’ll also note what’s missing and make up my shopping list for the week as I do this. I shop with Ocado and find their app invaluable, I just add things to the trolley on the app as I go along.
  • Meal planning: I’ll write out some simple meal ideas for the week. Often I’ll browse through my recipe books for inspiration and perhaps pick out a new recipe or something I haven’t made in awhile. I don’t necessarily stick to the plan religiously but it helps me to have a range of options and ingredients so I can quickly pick something each day and do whatever food prep is needed in the morning  or the night before. This might not sound that useful but honestly, it makes it so much easier to stay on track during the week when you’re tired and maybe less motivated, if you can simply look at a meal planner and read the directions from the highly-motivated-weekend-version-of-yourself.
  • Food prep: I might use this time to actually prepare some of my ingredients, maybe washing and chopping vegetables, soaking beans or
    nom nom batches of sauerkraut, fermented beets and humous!

    nuts and seeds. I’ve been making tabouleh a lot recently so I might chop some carrots, cucumber and tomatoes and have those ready in a container so that I can simply add hot water to the bulgar wheat in the morning (1 minute job) and then mix in the veggies at lunchtime (another 1 minute) to complete the meal. So fast, so easy!

  • Batching food staples: I might also make up some batches of foods thatcan be combined with different meals for variety throughout the week. I like making a big batch of hummus for instance, or sauerkraut. This week I made a big batch of vegan coleslaw which spruces up any salad in an instance and adds a nice dash of colour to most meals.
  • I’ll usually buy bulk packs of grains and legumes so I might spend some
    mmm vegan coleslaw with nuts and seeds. I can chuck a few spoonfuls onto some kale or lettuce for a snazzy salad in an instant.

    time replenishing the smaller mason jars I keep on hand with this stock.

Kitchen Sadhana allows me to make quick, healthy meals on the fly, with minimal effort or thought on days when I’m busy and pinched for time. I like to see this time I spend prepping ahead as a gift to my future, busier, self.

As a new mum this practice has become essential in allowing me to continue rustling up healthy meals in the limited time I have available.

Author: Sam Vale Noya

Yoga instructor currently living and teaching in Reading, UK.