Yogic diet originated in India, but not every Indian food is yogic! But what exactly is yogic diet?
Why Yogic Diet?
Yoga is still popular in the West as a fitness trend. But meanwhile, more and more people are discovering the deeper levels of yoga. In addition to meditation, breathing exercises and purification techniques, this also includes the yogic diet.
Your diet should be healthy for all levels – the physical body, the energy body, the intellectual body and the emotional body. This requirement, unlike many other nutritional systems, is fulfilled by the yogic diet.
Yoga does not see the human as a physical body, but as a soul possessing a body and a mind. Yogic diet thus also looks at the effect of food on the life energy (Sanskrit: Prana) and mental function.
Proper nutrition is an important part of yoga. With nutrient-rich and vegetarian food we bring Prana into our body and improve our yoga practice.
Everything in the universe is food. Everything what we see is food for our soul. The development level of our soul determines which food we can digest. Consequently, the food we like reflects our level of development.
You have no soul. You are a soul. You have a body. – Buddha
The three types of food
According to the teachings of Ayurveda (“knowledge of life”) food (Sanskrit: Anna) can be divided into three groups.
Tamasic food is not good for you. It reduced the Prana in your body and will fill you up with strong, dark urges such as greed or anger coupled with a lack of proper skills.
Tamasic food includes:
Meat, fish, alcohol, drugs, too much medication, onion, garlic, immature, overripe or even rotten foods, fermented food, canned food, frozen food (ice crystals damage the cell walls), warmed up food (prana escapes) and, above all, too much food.
Rajasic food makes you restless – your body, your mind and your emotions. To avoid this, reduce the following foods to a minimum:
Eggs, coffee, black tea, white sugar, white flour and all the products thereof, hot spices, sour and bitter food. Rajasic is also too scoff your food, insufficient chewing and to mix too many different foods in one meal.
Sattwic is everything that brings prana, is easily digestible and makes your mind light and peaceful. This food lets your mental and spiritual abilities flourish. Sattwic is the ideal food for every yogi and every yogini.
How do I eat in a yogic way?
Sattwic diet is therefore yogic diet. It is sweet, juicy and oily. It extends the life and increases the quality of life. Sattwic diet consists of the following food groups:
whole grains (Dark bread is not always whole grain bread: Bread is often darkened with malt, so it looks healthy but is not more nutritious than white bread.), Whole rice, millet, buckwheat, Whole wheat semolina, spelt, green spelt, quinoa, amaranth, rye, barley, tapioca and potatoes (they are vegetables but they are rated like grain when we look at the nutrients).
Lentils in all colors; Beans: field beans, azuki beans, soybeans and soy products such as tofu and tempeh (delicious!), Ready-made soy milk, however, is more artificial than cola; Peas: chickpeas, green peas, yellow peas … To make legumes digestible, they must be well cooked and soft. Best to soak them the day before you want to use them. My favorite meals with legumes are Dahl (Indian lentil dish) and hummus (Israeli chickpea puree).
Vegetables and salads
Use fresh, seasonal and local vegetables. The most Prana you in the body, will get out of raw vegetables, but caution: Raw food increases vata (air) in the body. Therefore avoid raw vegetables if you are the Vata-typ (according to Ayurveda).
The fresher, the better. Better an apple from Grandpa’s garden, than a banana from Ecuador.
This group is now somewhat controversial. Not so long ago our dairy products were still healthy. I remember well that my mother sent me to the neighboring farmer for fresh milk. Today we get the milk from the fridge, preferably the long-life milk, because who wants to have soured milk.
Dairy products are an important part of the yogic diet. Unfortunately, today it is hard to get healthy milk. For milk and dairy products it is important to pay attention to the quality. If possible, you should get your milk from a farmer whom you trust.
You should eat food from all five sattwic groups daily. Not everyone can handle all products. So try which foods and combinations will work best for you.
Tips for yogic diet
- Only eat when you are hungry. (Appetite is not hunger!)
- Only eat again after the last meal is digested (about 4 hours).
- No snacks
- Eating a heavy meal for lunch – digestion is strongest at this time of the day.
- Chew slowly and thoroughly – digestion starts in the mouth.
- Eat with awareness – Focus on your food and appreciate it.
- Peace at the table – no discussions while eating, do not eat while standing, do not eat under stress.
- Stop before you are full. The teachings of Hatha Yoga recommends filling your stomach half full with food (that’s about two hands full), ¼ with water and leaving the rest empty.
- Eat accordingly to the season, your region and your constitution type (Vata, Pitta or Kapha)
- Change your diet gradually rather than suddenly.
In yoga, the principle of non-violence applies (Sanskrit: Ahimsa). Those who want to live a yogic lifestyle should not unnecessarily be violent towards other living beings.
Furthermore, you live longer and healthier with a well-balanced vegetarian diet.
Humans cannot process animal tissue. As a result animal energy increases and slowly displaces the human energy from our body. This awakens the inclinations of the carnivorous animals (Sanskrit: Samskaras) in us and promotes anger, fear and other negative feelings. Meat brings a subtle energy into our aura that disturbs the flow of prana.
Well-planned vegetarian diet is suitable for every situation: pregnancy, breastfeeding, childhood, puberty and even in old age. In India, 40% of the population are vegetarians and meat eaters are called “non-vegetarians”.
How does yogic diet help me?
If you stick to the yogic diet, you will find back to your natural instincts that tell you what is good and what is bad for you. Your yoga practice will get a boost and you can enter a new level of consciousness. Your taste sensations will change and the appetite for tamasic and rajasic food will fade. Yogic diet has been developed to let you move forward on your spiritual path. Even if enlightenment is not your goal, you will quickly feel the effect of the yogic diet: your body is healthy, resilient, and your self-healing powers are activated.