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Yogic Diet: Nourishing Your Body, Nurturing Your Soul

 

From the topic, you must have already understood, that there is more to yoga than just poses and breathing techniques. To be exact, yoga is a spiritual philosophy, like some of the other schools of philosophy. And, it sinks its roots in yogic wisdom that facilitates the adoption of a healthy lifestyle and spiritual practices. In this context, you should know that yogic nutrition plays a big role in promoting a yogic way of life. 

 

You will come across yogis who are completely vegetarian or vegan, having eliminated meats from their diet. Some also stay away from stimulating foods like coffee, tea, and alcohol. The main reason behind following a yogic diet is that it leads to better absorption of the divine energies. So, let us dive straight into yogic diet, and find out the basis of such diets and different types. It will aid you in your spiritual journey. 

What Is The Yogic Diet All About?

Yoga scripts from ancient times, stress unprocessed, fresh food which aids in all sorts of growth. It also aligns with the philosophy of yoga. There are certain yogic principles that trace the path back to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. The main principles herein are:

  • Sattva – It means purity and goodness. It is one of the three ‘gunas’ as laid down in yogic texts. One who has this quality will be drawn towards Dharma and Jnana. Many yogis also call it the realm of the creator. If one is under sattvic influence, the mind remains steady and centred. Sattva is mainly the balance of the other two gunas, Rajas and Tamas. 
  • Ahimsa – This is another quality that most of you may be aware of. It is better understood as non-violence. According to it, the world can be a better place, if we humans stop harming and killing farm animals like cows, buffaloes, goats, sheep, etc. for produce. If you stop the consumption of meats and rely more on plant-based foods, it can help in the attainment of the ultimate goal of yoga. 
  • Saucha – This points towards the practice of cleanliness. Eating plant-based foods can help in the reduction of impurities in the body. Moreover, if these are organically grown, that is purer. Organic food is devoid of chemicals and fertilizers that contaminate the environment, even after the food has been consumed. 

According to yogic principles, it is said that light, plant-based food can be digested easily. This allows the yogi to divert the body’s energies to more fruitful tasks of the higher order. 

So, this brings us to the question, ‘How to follow this yogic food diet? Let us find out the answers here. 

Guide To Following The Yogi Diet 

You can bring about the desired changes in your life, by following a yogic diet. It is one of the best pathways to get the mind, body, and the soul onto one plane. 

  • A yoga practitioner can start right away by switching to a seasonal fruits and vegetables diet. Organic foods do best, as they are grown without fertilizers. You can also grow your own, if you have a small land or a backyard. There are opportunities abound in the market today, to grow fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables on roof tops, as well, through hydroponics. Packaged and stale food items are best avoided. 
  • You must avoid stimulants like coffee, tobacco, and artificial sweeteners as well, to eliminate chemicals from the body. These additives may be more harmful, than useful in the long run. 
  • According to Ayurveda and yogic principles, you must keep a gap of five hours between each meal. This allows your digestive system to completely digest the food that you had eaten earlier. When you follow a regular schedule to eat, the meals are digested better. Avoid eating, when you are sad or bored. 
  • The yogic diet recommends eating cooked food for dinner. The reason behind the same is that, the body digests cooked food better. However, you should ensure to use very less oil, or use natural ghee. Blanching, boiling, and steaming foods is a far better option, than frying them. As these processes retain the nutrients, without making them evaporate or burn like in the case of frying or grilling. 
  • According to yogic principles, you must gorge more on herbs, spices, and natural condiments, like cumin, fennel, cardamom, cinnamon, mint, basil, and cilantro, to name a few. These aid in proper digestion and keep you from bloating. Moreover, these also have a healing and cleansing effect. Herbal teas with spices and condiments are also a great option. Moreover, you can have them hot or cold, according to the season and time of the day. 
  • The concept of fasting also assumes a lot of importance in yoga. It helps in focussing the mind, before you move ahead towards its accomplishment. There are different kinds of fasting methods, like completely water-less one, or one that involves intake of just fruits and vegetables in raw form. 

If you follow the above guidelines, then your yogic journey will be very fruitful.  You can gain complete knowledge of yogic nutrition, as a part of the course in yoga at Namaste Yoga School. It has been laid down in a separate chapter altogether, due to its important nature. 

Diets Based On Three Gunas

So, by now, you may have attained a lot of knowledge on the sattvic diet, which is for yogis. However, as a practitioner or enthusiast, it is also very important for you to know about Rajasic and Tamasic diet. 

A Rajasic diet mainly consists of hot, bitter, dry, salty, and sour foods. These if ingested in excess, can destroy the equilibrium of the body. However, too much of these, like onions, garlic and chillies can throw you off balance. You must keep in mind, that hurried eating is also Rajasic. 

Secondly, a Tamasic diet draws out every bit of ‘Prana’ that you generate with yoga practice. It is the reason behind inertia and bad thoughts, as well. Alcohol, tobacco, and fermented foods like vinegar fills one with dark emotions. So, you must avoid these altogether. 

Understanding the Sattvic, Rajasic, and Tamasic Diets:

Characteristic Sattvic Diet Rajasic Diet Tamasic Diet
Quality Pure, fresh, light Stimulating, intense Stale, heavy, over-processed
Taste Sweet, mild, bland Spicy, sour, salty, bitter Pungent, bitter, excessively salty or sweet
Effect on Body Promotes clarity, calmness, detoxification Increases energy, motivation, heat Creates sluggishness, dullness, heaviness
Effect on Mind Promotes peace, focus, well-being Increases passion, ambition, competitiveness Creates negativity, confusion, laziness
Examples Fresh fruits & vegetables,Whole grains (brown rice, quinoa)Nuts & seeds (almonds, sunflower seeds)Dairy (milk, ghee)Honey Spicy foods (chili peppers, onions, garlic)Meat,Coffee & tea Eggs,Chocolate Stale or processed foods<br>Fried foods Excessive sugar or refined carbohydrates Leftovers,Overly salty foods
Digestion Easy to digest, promotes regularity Can be stimulating to the digestive system, may cause heartburn in some Difficult to digest, can lead to constipation and sluggishness
Seasonality Emphasizes seasonal and local produce for optimal freshness and nutritional value May not prioritize seasonality, focusing more on the stimulating qualities of the food Less emphasis on seasonality, may include processed foods available year-round
Ayurvedic Herbs & Spices Light herbs like fennel, cardamom, and coriander are favored Heating spices like ginger, black pepper, and chili peppers are commonly used No specific recommendation, may include leftover spices that have lost their potency
Ideal For Meditation, yoga, spiritual practices Active lifestyles, athletes, creative pursuits Not recommended for regular consumption
Overall Impact Promotes overall well-being, vitality, and longevity Can be beneficial for short bursts of energy but may lead to imbalances if consumed excessively Detrimental to health and well-being in the long run

Finally…

Make healthy choices in food and lifestyle as a yogi. Conscious choices will help you to remove all sorts of attachments that serve as an impediment in your yogic journey. Instead, create fruitfulness in every aspect through a Sattvic diet. Namaste Yoga School is the place to go to, if you want more knowledge on these aspects. 

Abhrajita Mondal

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