Diet And Yoga
A diet that is wholly conducive to the practice of yoga and spiritual progress is called a yogic diet. Diet has an intimate connection with the mind. The mind is formed out of the subtlest portion of food. It is said that a man becomes what he eats. In Hindi we say ‘jaisa khaye ann, waisa bane man’. For that, we here classify the food.
Classification Of Yogic Diet
Food, according to yoga, is of three kinds:
- Sattwic Food
- Rajasic Food and
- Tamasic Food.
- Milk, barley, wheat, cereals, butter, tomatoes, honey, dates, fruits, almonds, and sugar-candy are all sattvic foodstuffs. They render the mind pure and calm.
- Fish, eggs, meat, salt, chilies, and asafoetida are rajasic foodstuffs. They excite passion.
- Beef, wine, garlic, onions, and tobacco are tamasic foodstuffs. They fill the mind with anger, darkness, and inertia.
In Bhagwat Gita, Lord Krishna says –
- Foods which increase life, purity, strength, health, joy, and cheerfulness, which are oleaginous and savoury, substantial and agreeable, are dear to sattvic people.
- The foods that are bitter, sour, saline, excessively hot, dry, pungent and burning are liked by the rajasic people and are productive of pain, grief, and disease.
- That which is stale, tasteless, putrid, rotten and impure refuse, is the food liked by the tamasic people.
- In short, it is said in Yoga ‘jaisa khaye ann, waisa bane mann’, which means – you become what you eat.
Some Important Points –
Foods That Affect Meditation
- For purposes of meditation, the food should be light, fibrous, nutritious and sattvic. A yoga seeker who spends his time wholly in pure meditation needs very little food, while a yogi who ascends the platform for vigorous, active work requires abundant, nutritious food.
- A vegetarian diet has been acclaimed to be most conducive to spiritual and psychic advancement.
- Although a doctor or modern science may not recommend fasting, however, occasional, mild fasts are highly beneficial.
- It will overhaul the system thoroughly, give rest to the stomach and the intestines, and eliminate uric acid.
- The energy which would have worked to digest the meal is now free and will now work to or repair the ailments or drawbacks in the body.
Secret To Long Life – Eat less live longer
- In Yoga, we say ‘kam khana khoob chabana, Yahi hai tandurusti ka khazana‘ which means that eat lesser and chew more and live longer.
- This will reduce the workload of digestive organs, will help better mixing of saliva with the chewed food and hence help in digestion.
- The appetite will be satisfied with lesser stuff.
Time Gap Between Yoga And Food
- The timing of meals is also important. Before beginning the practice, some milk and butter may be taken.
- But if you have had a good diet, there should be a minimum gap of three and a half hours before you practice Yoga.
- Yogic students may take one full meal at eleven in the morning, a light meal with a cup of warm milk in the afternoon and half a liter of milk and some fruits at night with much advantage.
- It is widely said – ‘take breakfast like a Prince, Lunch like a king and dinner like a beggar’.
- The night meal should be very light.
Moderate Diet Plan
- Hath Yogi Nikam Guruji of Ambika Yog Kutir has written in his book ‘swasthya yoga‘ that take a half-stomachful of food; fill a quarter of the stomach with water and allow the remaining quarter to be free for expansion of the gas.
- Only one who takes a moderate diet can become a Yogi.
The Desired Diet Plan
- Milk is an ideal food for Yoga aspirants. It is a perfect food by itself.
- Fruits are tremendous energy producers.
- Fruits and milk help concentration and meditation.
- Barley, wheat, milk, ghee, and honey promote longevity and increase power and stamina.
- Almonds keep the heart healthy, reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. Almonds soaked in water work as an antioxidant.
Swami Sivananda Quote
- Swami Sivananda said – eat food like the medicine or else you will have to take medicine like the food.
Foods To Avoid In Yoga
- All food that is putrid, stale, decomposed, unclean, twice cooked or kept overnight, should be abandoned.
- Aspirants should avoid all narcotics, coffee, tea, alcohol, and smoke that stimulate the senses.
- It has been found that meat augments animal passion and decreases intellectual capacity. It brings in a host of ailments such as tape-worm, albuminuria and other diseases of the kidneys. Besides, killing of animals for food is not advised. Ahimsa (non-injury) is the first virtue that a spiritual aspirant should possess.
The Rule Of Moderation
In your zeal to follow a yogic regimen, however, do not make much fuss about your diet. You need not boast and tell everyone that you are able to live on a particular form of diet. The observance of such rules is for your own advancement on the spiritual path and you will not be spiritually benefited by publicizing your practices.
Live a natural and simple life. Take simple food that is wholly agreeable to your system. You should have your own menu to suit your constitution. You are yourself the best judge to select a diet that will aid your sadhana. Simple, natural, non-stimulating, tissue building, energy producing, non-alcoholic food and drink will keep the mind calm and pure and will help the student of yoga in his practices and in the attainment of the goal of life