Yoga food

Yoga is a system, the purpose of which is to achieve higher states of awareness, through physical and spiritual elaboration and purification. Once we reach these higher levels, we can rediscover our relationships with other human beings, and with the universe as a whole. There are many components in the achievement of this goal: physical exercises, breathing, concentration, meditation, control over the thoughts and deeds, and, not least, the food we eat.

The yogis are very careful with the food they choose – and with the way they consume it. The motto they follow is: “Eat to live, don’t live to eat.” This maxim gives a clear idea of what food is for the yogi – a means for a more qualitative and healthy life, and not just an end itself, which can turn eating into our enemy. Food serves to give us energy, to increase the power in ourselves, to develop the mind.

There are a few basic principles of healthy nutrition, according to yoga:

  • We must eat slowly, chewing the food well – each bite must be chewed about 40 times before being swallowed. As some yogis say, the firm food must be drunk, and the fluids must be chewed.
  • When eating, try to focus on the food and be thankful. During meals your thoughts must be occupied only with the eating process. Thus you can benefit most from the food.
  • It is not advisable to have a meal when feeling tense, angry or anxious. It is better if we wait until these intense emotions fade away before we sit down at the table.
  • We should break the habit of eating too much – according to some yoga followers we have only to fill 50% of our stomach capacity during each meal. This way we help the digestion, and most of the food is assimilated.
  • The yogis encourage eating vegetarian food, but they are not categorical about it. Some say that if we have an irresistible craving for meat it would be better not to refrain and to eat it moderately. In the process of practising yoga, these cravings gradually decrease until a natural reluctance of consuming meat arises. Yoga transforms our bad habits and we become more and more willing to eat healthier food.

According to yoga, the food can be divided into three groups: Sattvik, Rajasik,and Tamasik.

Sattvik food includes fresh fruits and vegetables, cereals, nuts, seeds, honey, herbal tea, diary products.

The rajasik food comprises meat products, fish, root vegetables, seasonings, coffee, tea, chocolate... This food is hard to digest and accumulates a lot of waste products. The fast food is also considered rajasik.

The third group – tamasik, includes the food we should not consume – pork, eggs, fried fats, spoiled and fermented foods, vinegar and alcohol.
Eating too much is also considered tamasik.

After consuming tamasic food our bodies start excreting bad smells, gases and toxic products, the spiritual and elevated attitude to life is replaced by more materialistic one.

Yoga recommends eating mainly the food from the first group, these from the second group should be avoided, and the tamasik food has to be completely excluded from your daily meal.

Ideally we should be eating food that takes minimum energy to digest, so the rest of it can be used for more productive and important goals to achieve in our lives.