Beginner’s Guide to Yogic Diet
You’ve been learning all the yoga postures, breathing exercises, and meditation to keep yourself healthy. But all those things won’t save you if you don’t have a healthy diet.
In this article, we will discuss the key concepts and practices of the Yogic diet and how yoga divides food into three categories.
Some practices which help you utilize all the benefits of a yogic diet are listed below:
Many of us, when we sit for lunch or dinner, have a habit of turning on the TV and distracting our attention from the food we are eating. This is the wrong way to eat. Mindful eating is when you pay attention to your food in a meditative manner. Become aware of the smell of the food, look at its texture, bring your awareness to its taste and consciously chew, and swallow your food. Mindful eating is a great spiritual practice.
YOGIC DIET IS A PLANT BASED DIET
A yogic diet encourages you to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and restricts the consumption of meat, eggs, onion, garlic, fried foods, etc. A yogic diet prohibits eating non-vegetarian food because animal protein contains too much uric acid which gets deposited in the tissues and joints which can lead to arthritis or even cancer. Better sources of high-quality protein would be milk and legumes, which are also easily digestible.
RIGHT QUANTITY, RIGHT TIMING
Eating the right food is not enough, other things which you have to get right are quantity and timing. Often our stomachs are full but we eat more than necessary to satisfy our taste buds. This is condemned in Yoga. It is also mentioned in the 16th verse of the 6th chapter of Bhagavad Gita (the ancient scripture of yoga):
“O Arjuna, he who eats too much cannot achieve yoga. Nor he who doesn't eat at all. Nor he who sleeps too much, or stays awake too much”
Other than eating an appropriate quantity of food, not stuffing yourself with too much food nor eating too less, having a definite time for the meals in your day is recommended. Irregular timings for breakfast, lunch, and dinner hamper the rhythm of your body.
TYPES OF FOOD ACCORDING TO YOGA
Yoga classifies food into three categories depending upon the effects they have on your body. These three types are Satvic, Rajasic, and Tamasic food.
1. Satvic Food
Eating Satvic food makes you feel lighter, energetic, and enthusiastic. Satvic food is usually consumed between 3-4 hours of cooking. But the best Satvic food is consumed raw and uncooked such as fruits and nuts. Examples of Satvic food are fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds black pepper, honey, ash gourd, ghee (clarified butter), sprouts, Jaggery, whole grains, lentils, cereals, etc.
2. Rajasic Food
Rajasic food is that which brings about over-activity or restlessness. Although Rajasic food can be very tasty, its consumption leads to hyperactivity, restlessness, anger, irritability, and sleeplessness. Some examples of Rajasic food are red meat, red lentils, toor lentils, white urad lentils, black and green gram, chickpeas, spices such as chilies and garlic, tea, coffee, tobacco, soda, alcohol, chocolate, sour apples, pickles, and redefined sugars.
3. Tamasic Food
You might have noticed that eating certain kinds of food makes you lethargic, they fall into the category of Tamasic food. Consumption of Tamasic food leads to the inertia of the body, dullness of the mind, confusion, and disorientation. Foods that contain artificial preservatives are also considered Tamasic. Examples of Tamasic food are meat, fish, onions, garlic, mushrooms, overripe and under-ripe fruits and vegetables, fermented foods like vinegar, bread, pastries, cakes, alcohol, and even leftovers and stale food are considered Tamasic.
Right after you’ve had a meal, it is advised that you sit in Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose) for 10-15 minutes. It is one of the few Asanas that can be practiced with a full stomach. Sitting in Vajrasana improves your digestion and makes you feel lighter. It helps even more if you meditate along with sitting in Vajrasana.
Today we discussed the first of the four aspects of holistic living according to the Yogic science which are Ahar (Food), Vihar (Recreation), Achar (routine), Vichar (thoughts). A balanced yogic diet will improve your health to a great extent and boost the benefits you are getting from practicing Asanas.