Throughout life, we develop certain habits, including in the diet. As a rule, in the store we habitually buy a certain set of products, which we then eat, without thinking about the quality and quantity of what we have been eating. When we practice Yoga, it is very important for us to follow a moderate diet. Let’s try to figure out what this means. What effect does food have on our physical and emotional state? What principles are best followed in the diet for successful Yoga practice?
Use logic when choosing food
In Yoga, food is classified according to the nature of its impact on the body and state of mind:
- sattvic – keeps a clear, pure mind, joy and gives strength;
- rajasic – encourages us to take action, sometimes even unnecessary and not very appropriate actions, brings us into a working state;
- tamasic – induces sleep, laziness and a state of stupor.
Products that cause the state of sattva, rajas and tamas are different for everyone. For some, certain foods will cause a state of rajas, but for another, the same foods will cause a state of tamas. For example, for a person who is engaged in physical labor and is constantly in the fresh air, a heavy meal will cause a state of rajas, but for a person engaged in mental labor, such food will cause a state of tamas. In order to determine which food is appropriate for you at a particular time, use logic: monitor and analyze your state after eating.
Food should be appropriate for each time of day
For each person, this or that food, depending on the time of day, can either benefit or harm. For example, citrus fruits excite some people, so it’s better for them to eat them during the day, not at night. Raisins or grapes in the morning may have no effect on some, but cause an unpleasant sensation in others. Therefore, we need to listen to our body, which will tell us what product will be favorable for it at the moment.
Food can be divided according to the severity of digestion:
1) Meat, fish – heavy food that is digested for a long time.
2) Cereals, vegetables – easier to digest.
3) Dairy products require evaluation. For example, cheeses. There are white cheeses that are simply frozen and pressed without chemicals. There are yellow cheeses, which are obtained by pressing them naturally for a long time. And there are hard cheeses that are made with the use of chemistry.
4) Fruits are the easiest to digest. It should be taken into account that if the body is not purified, fruits cause fermentation and gases. It is also necessary to take into account the quality of fruits.
When eating foods, we don’t just eat the physical component or their rough shell. In each product, in one or another form and quantity, there is prana – vital energy. This is exactly the main source of strength that we get from food. Fresh foods have more prana, while cooked or processed foods have less.
Try to avoid chemical additives and preservatives
There is food that the body perceives as poison, these are chemical additives: flavor enhancers, salt and sugar substitutes, and preservatives that are contained in chips, carbonated sweet drinks, sweets, etc. Nitrates from the use of mineral fertilizers accumulate in vegetables and fruits. Most often, the body considers such products as poisons and spends a huge amount of energy on their removal. It is not always possible to completely remove them from the body, so the use of such products affects our health and is reflected, first of all, on our skin.
Additives deceive our senses with their bright smell and color and intense taste, prompting us to buy such products. This is a marketing trick of the manufacturer. It is worth paying more attention to those products whose color, smell and taste are as close to natural as possible, and in every possible way to avoid excessively bright and attractive products. With the practice of Yoga, our perception sharpens, we become more attentive and learn to analyze and track the reactions of our perceptual organs. Thanks to this, we are better able to distinguish natural products from those with chemical additives.
Eat locally grown food
Our parents and grandparents passed on to us the “digestibility gene” for certain foods. Living in one area for a long time, we get used to these products, and our body perceives them as something native, and “foreign ” products as something alien and non-native. This is not only when we eat at home, for example, bananas, mangoes, etc., but also when we get to another country, far from our native area, it can be difficult for our body to immediately adjust to an adequate perception of the products and cuisine of this country. Therefore, if possible, it is better to eat vegetables, cereals and fruits from the area where your ancestors were born.
Help your body to rebuild
During the practice, especially during the practice of Pranayama yoga, there is a powerful restructuring of the body. During this period, the body needs a lot of water, causing a state of peace. These foods are milk, dairy products and fats such as ghee to lubricate the body from the inside. Therefore, drink plenty of water. Eat cereals cooked in milk with an average shelf life. Do not add spices, because they cause rajas.
Portions should be moderate
If we are involved in the practice of Yoga, our task is to control the amount of food we eat. If the stomach is full, our vital energy will not be able to circulate freely. Most of our immunity is formed in our intestines. Good immunity indicates that we have a sufficient level of vital energy that circulates harmoniously through the channels of our body. It follows from this that if we overfill our stomach, energy will have difficulty passing through clogged channels and stagnate. This will cause a decrease in immunity. Therefore, the stomach should be filled with only 2/3 so that the gastric juice can freely moisten the food. It is recommended to chew food from 30 to 40 times, because it is during this time that it becomes sufficiently crushed and moistened with saliva, which contributes to the digestive process. It is necessary to leave the table with a slight feeling of hunger. After eating, there should be no feeling of heaviness in the stomach.
Feel the difference between hunger and appetite
Hunger and appetite are not the same thing. If we eat food when we really feel hungry, it is appropriate, thus we make up for the lack of energy and nutrients. But if we look at some product and we have a desire to eat it, but we are not hungry then this is self-deception!!! Our body is misled by the information that comes through the channels of perception from the senses. The sight and smell of food, along with our habit of snacking, does a disservice to us. In fact, the body does not need it now. We just follow our habits. As a result, this can be fraught with many problems.
Cook for your loved ones
When we cook, we must remember that we are cooking for our loved ones, relatives and friends. We prepare food for them in a special balanced state, with love and with wishes of happiness and joy. You can chant a mantra to focus your mind.
Be aware of yourself at the moment of eating. Do nothing but this
You should eat food, realizing that you are in the process of eating. While eating, you should not read or watch anything, you need to focus on the process itself. If there is no opportunity to create an ideal environment for eating, and a TV is working nearby or someone is vigorously discussing something, you can “turn off” the organs of perception by applying Pratyahara, and even answering the questions from others, remain in a state of unaffected and calmly eat food. This does not mean that we should be like in a dream. When we are in a state of sattva, we see the whole picture, we know that this or that action is appropriate to do at this time, and we have the strength to do it, i.e. we do not do anything distracting.
The issue of nutrition with the active practice of Yoga comes to one of the first places. The revision of your nutrition system should take place on an individual basis. It is necessary, first of all, to learn to understand what our body needs. Recommendations from Yoga will help us learn to listen to our body, and it, in turn, will respond to us with well-being and good health.
Eat moderately, practice Yoga successfully and be happy!
Author: Eva Rati
Editors: Kerigona, Mirra, Sarasvati Bhavani, Olga Belous, Inna Shakti
Translated by: Ekaterina Daya, Avlaada
Project curator: Kerigona