YOGA-ARTICLE: Do yogis have to be vegetarians?

Nowadays it is widely believed that before starting to practice yoga, a person must stop eating animal products and become a vegetarian. How much truth is in this statement? It is worth understanding. 

It is important to understand that Yoga does not control our every movement and does not impose any binding rules. Yoga makes recommendations, but we decide ourselves how to do it. Yoga is a system of self-exploration, and its main goal is freedom!

Free will in yoga is sacred!

Lifestyle and dietary pattern, in particular, is a personal matter. A system of spiritual development, which limits us in any matter, cannot be called yoga. Moreover, if someone or something reduces our freedom, then yoga recommends rejecting it. Therefore, if eating only plant food makes us feel deprived, then we must go back to our normal diet.

Let’s recap the fundamental principles, which guide yogis and yoginis in everyday life. If we take the path of self-exploration, these principles will help us understand different life situations. 

The first principle of Yoga says about the need to make every effort to avoid harming living beings unless it is necessary.

By the looks of it, this principle encourages us to stop eating animals. However, at root, it is obvious that the production of plant food leads to the death of a huge amount of living beings. Therefore, the refusal to eat meat will not solve the problem of animal killing.

We decide individually what type of food to choose, based on our needs and feelings of harmony inside. 

The second point is that we should not harm our body by rushing into new nutrition habits. Change to vegetarianism gradually and consistently. Give time to all our internal structures to clear up and adapt. In this way, we minimize stress by changing our habits.

The main thing is no violence against ourselves!

The second principle of Yoga says that we should always use common sense in making decisions and do whatever is relevant at this moment of time and under the current circumstances.

Each of us at some point will be ready to reconsider their dietary pattern. This should happen gradually and naturally, due to the changing needs of our body. Shifting to vegetable food can take a long time, up to several years.

Before taking the decision it is important to consider our specific situation

It is a fact that the process of digesting meat products requires a lot of energy. If after taking food, we feel apathy, drowsiness, lack of desire to do anything, then it makes sense to review our diet: pay attention to the products that don’t take much energy to digest. 

For hyperactive people the situation is the opposite. Meat consumption helps to calm down the body and the mind by taking out the excessive energy. Thus, a person can find a balance again. It all depends on the individual constitution. 

If we decide to keep to a vegetarian diet, but our desire to eat meat is irresistible, we should give in to temptation and continue our practice in the state of balance. 

The opinion that without being a vegetarian it is impossible to make yoga useful is wrong. If we commit ourselves to yoga practice, we should start doing it in our current  state. Our nutritional habits do not matter. After some time, with yoga practice, the situation will change for the better. 

In the long term, only following the principle of harmony can be effective.

It does not matter if we eat only plant food or consume animal products. The most important is to follow the principle of harmony in our personal life and in yoga practice. The regular practice will lead us to changes in our diet without any violence or constraint, in the most natural way for us. 

Wishing you harmony in the process

of self-development

Author: Angelina Shanti

Editors: М.Balmush, Mirra, D.Klyshko, Kerigona

Translated by: Tatiana Sugrue, Alex Openyoga, Evgenia Lakshmi

Project curator: Kerigona