Why the Yogic way for Food?
Yoga is the only science that has laid great emphasis on food
over centuries. In fact, there is a whole branch – called Anna Yoga –
devoted to food for health and happiness.
Yoga over centuries has
developed a concept of a balanced whole foods diet and an eating
philosophy. These principles of good eating use powerful techniques which
help in maintaining a strong and health body, a stress-free mind and a
positive spirituality within this mixed up world.
Never has this yogic
philosophy of a balanced whole foods diet been felt more than today when
97% of all health disorders can be traced to a faulty nutrition and diet.
It has been observed
that (East) Indian civilizations suffer least from bowel problems,
constipation, indigestion and other food related disorders such as
obesity. Do you know why? Because the Indian philosophy of cooking and
eating draws heavily from the yogic philosophy of eating!
Yoga does not dissect
food into vitamins, minerals, protein etc. The yogic philosophy is that
the true benefits of these ingredients can be had only when they are NOT
isolated but as much in their natural form as possible.
The key to true health
is to have a balanced whole foods diet. A balanced diet ensures that all
the faculties of digestion work smoothly – absorption, assimilation and
elimination. A balanced whole foods diet ensures a healthy you!!
It is extremely
important that all these 3 aspects work well together. If all these
aspects work in harmony it is extremely unlikely that you’ll suffer from
health disorders and even obesity. Often “synthetic” or “processed” foods
create conditions that disrupt this balance. This leads to several
physical and psychological problems. Over years, this can have dangerous
Food for the Body That's
Good for the Soul
A real yogi eats to live, rather than living to
This doesn't mean your food has to
be tasteless, though.
So what do yogis eat? A vegetarian
yoga diet, of course, consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables, beans
and grains, nuts and seeds, and a moderate amount of dairy products. You
can prepare countless dishes using various combinations of these
nutritious foods. Fry up some spices and turn a plain vegetable dish into
a savory Indian curry. Add herbs for a Mediterranean flavor or ginger and
coconut milk for a delightful Thai entree. With scrumptious and
satisfying dishes, even the die-hard meat-eaters in your family won't
miss the meat.
A Spiritual Diet
You don't have to be a vegetarian to do yoga, but
as you become more aware of your body, you'll find that eating meat makes
you feel heavy. A vegetarian diet, on the other hand, helps you maintain
the light and energized feeling you get from practicing yoga. Just go
easy on the fried spring rolls and cheese dishes—they can put on the
pounds. The yoga diet is especially important if we want to elevate our
consciousness to the stage where we're feeling love and compassion for
all living beings—including animals. Eating them, rather than respecting
and caring about them, simply hardens our hearts, moving this goal beyond
scientists, yogis are not interested in the chemical content (protein,
vitamins, etc...) of the food. Instead, food is traditionally classified
according to its effect on the body and mind, using the the three Gunas:
Sattva (the quality of love, light and life), Raja (the
quality of activity and passion, lacking stability) and Tamas (the
quality of darkness and inertia, dragging us into ignorance and
- Sattvic food
promotes clarity and calmness of mind and is favourable for spiritual
growth. It is "sweet, fresh and agreeable" and includes most fruits,
nuts, seeds, vegetables, particularly green leafy vegetables, whole
grains, honey, pure water and milk (with the reservation that
commercially produced milk may not nowadays be so sattvic...). Given
the amount of pesticides and chemical fertilisers used on commercial
crops, only organic products still qualify as Sattvic, and tinned or
frozen food certainly don't.
- Rajasic food
feeds the body, but promotes activity and therefore induces
restlessness of mind. It disturbs the equilibrium of the mind and is
generally to be avoided by yoga practionners. Rajasic foods include
most spicy foods, stimulants like coffee and tea, eggs, garlic, onion,
meat, fish and chocolate, as well as most processed food. Eating too
fast or with a disturbed mind is also considered rajasic. Rajasic food
should be avoided by those whose aim is peace of mind, but will benefit
people with an active lifestyle. A little rajasic food can be sattvic,
for example, hot spices can help digestion, and therefore help create
peace of mind!
- Tamasic food
(to be avoided) induces heaviness of the body and dullness of the
mind, and ultimately benefits neither. It includes alcohol, as well as
food that is stale or overripe. Overeating is also tamasic. The
traditional advice is to fill the stomach half with food, one quarter
with water, leaving the last quarter empty.
nature of food can change. Cooking is the most obvious way to change the
nature of food. Grains become sattvic only after cooking. Honey becomes
tamasic (poisonous) with cooking. The nature of a food also change by
being in combination with other foods and spices, or if it is stored for
periods of time. Generally grains should be aged a bit (they become more
sattvic) but of course, fruits shouldn't (they rot and become tamasic).