In our fast-paced world, we’re always racing toward the next thing. This may make us feel productive, but when we live in chaos we sacrifice the blissful benefits of slowing down. This idea isn’t new to yogis. Most yogis carve out a few hours every week to find patience, take things slow, and relish the here and now. The ability to be truly present, to truly live in the moment, is something we strive for both on and off the mat, and this includes mealtime.
For thousands of years, food has been a form of communication between people—fulfilling both a physical necessity and an emotional activity. In the highlands of Ethiopia, friends and families would sit around a large table and eat from one large communal tray, using pieces of injera to scoop up a variation of flavorful stews. Traditional Hawaiian luaus are known for their celebration of food, music, and friendship. These time-honored traditions are more than just nourishment for the body—they feed the soul as well.
Feeding the Soul Through Process
But it's not just the shared experience of communal eating that relates to the emotional aspect of mealtimes. There's a reason that the Slow Food movement
has gained traction in recent years: People are beginning to tire of racing from one thing to the next. Many people—not exclusively yogis—are seeking a more intentional lifestyle, and this pertains to the food we eat.
Intentional eating can seem a daunting task in a market saturated with confusing labels and delineations. In nearly all cases, it's best to seek out the basics—to look for identifiable ingredients and proven methods. Oftentimes, food companies that have stood the test of time stand out... Even as the companies have grown and changed, craftsmanship has not. Maille is one of these companies.
In 18th-century Paris, marketeer Antoine-Claude Maille set out to get his line of mustards and vinegars into the hands of royals, knowing that if he had the monarch's approval it wouldn't be long before they were must-haves for civilians as well. To do so, his products had to be the finest in the world—so he pushed barriers until he had landed on the perfect recipes and hand-crafted processes. A lot has changed since 1747, but Maille's methods have not. Ever since the king threw his support behind a bottle of Maille mustard, the company (specializing in mustard, cornichons, dressings, and vinegars) has consistently maintained a loving and mindful attitude towards their products.
Tradition, Not Stagnation
Despite its appreciation towards tradition, Maille remains one of the most innovative brands in the foodie world. They created the mustard-seed cutting method over 200 years ago, a technique that leads to superb and flavorful products. While the company remains loyal to a time-trusted process, the mustard base is continually evolving as Maille mustard experts play with different flavors to create a delicious portfolio of condiments. In other words, they paid respect to the tradition while still finding ways to evolve their products.
Many of us apply a similar mindset to yoga. Though we keep the “base,” the tradition of yoga, we also find ways to innovate and grow our practices. Acro yoga, for example, may not have existed hundreds of years ago, but its creation allows yogis the opportunity to develop new boundaries and connect with a partner. Though the poses may differ, the heart of yoga remains largely unchanged. It’s as alive as it always was, thriving and blossoming as more and more people garner a practice.
Why Keep Traditions
But traditions aren’t just a way for us to pay respect to our heritage—they can literally make us happier. Maintaining tradition helps promote communication and connection. Research has shown that rituals, from annual camping trips to daily dinners, can help families bond and form a strong group identity. On a larger scale, this helps instill a sense of belonging and allows us to think of souls other than our own. We can welcome these traditions, whether it’s lighting the Menorah or going for ice cream before the first day of school, with a respectful and open mind, allowing them to grow along with their practitioners.
In the same way, when a company like Maille follows the same methodology for hundreds of years, that spirit of tradition infuses its products and intention carries over. Ever wonder why you're just happier eating products that are made right? Now you know.
Rather than rush through your next meal, savor the many flavors of the moment. Focus on the soothing process of preparing a stew, or enjoy many sensations that come along with sharing a pot of coffee among your family members. Whether you’re making mustard or a Friday night dinner, tradition and mindful eating allow us all to relish the simplicity of the present moment. What could taste any better?