Yoga and Diet
Yoga as I learnt it is a Science which has principles and results. It is universally applicable. Vedas are the main source of all the knowledge bestowed. Yoga as a word means to JOIN. The connection of mind and soul. The aim of Vedas and various upnishads has always been to make it easier of a living being to unwind the ‘Avidya’ and gain Samadhi as easily as possible. The Tritiya Upnishad very beautifully defines the various layers a ‘jeev’ living being have to penetrate and remove the ‘Avidya’ from soul. These sheaths are Ananmaya Kosha’ (Food Sheath), Pranamaya Kosha (Energy Sheath), Manomaya Kosha’ (Mind Sheath), Vijnayanamaya Kosha’ (Intellect Sheath) and Anandanaya Kosha’ (The Bliss sheath). Vedas define various ways to bring the balance by yoga, diet, study etc. to for the achievement of end goal. To reach the Anandanaya Kosha’ one has to start with Ananmaya Kosha, which is a food sheath.
‘We are what we eat’, a very popular saying. What one eats come out as their personality and have a great impact on them.
Tritiya Upanishad says –
Verily, this person consists of the essence of food
Asper yogic philosophy, this means that a person, his mind, thoughts and actions are formed by the food. A yogic diet aims to connect/develop the mind and body. The nature is divided in three categories so is food. Sattvik (Pure), Rajasic (over simulated) and Tamsic (Putrified)
The Gita says (XVII 8)
Food which increases life, purity, strength, health, joy and cheerfulness, which are savory and oleaginous, substantial and agreeable, are dear to Sattvik people.
Food like vegetables, fruits that grow in nature. This food goes inside us and gives us energy and ability to fight. It helps in keeping our body properly active. This food is not spicy.
Rajasic (Passion) –
The Gita says (XVII 9)
Food that is bitter, sour, saline, excessively hot, pungent, dry and burning are liked by Rajasic people and are productive of pain, grief and disease.
Food item like, processed food, pizza, burger, etc. falls under this category. This food stays in intestines causes constipation and piles. Few research says that multiple joint pain actually happen when internal lining is disturbed by food that stays in intestines for long time.
Tamsic (Ignorance) –
The Gita says (XVII 10)
The food that is stale, tasteless, putrid, rotten and impure refuse, is the food liked by Tamsic.
Food that is oily, spicy, non-vegetarian (food that caused pain to someone), usually creates ucler in stomach (burping, agitation). When an animal is killed for food, that animal activated it’s Pingla Nadi which secretes fight and flight mode and rushes adrenaline through his entire body. The same adrenaline comes to people who consume it. It is not just restricted to killing but milking too. If an animal was harmed for milk then, that milk is harmful too. The milk consumed should be ‘Ahimsa Milk’ where the cows are loved and taken care of. Where no harm was done to them for milking.
Trittiya Upnishad says (II. 2.1)
From food all things are born. Having been born, they grow by food. Food is eaten by all beings and it also eats them.
Every being is born from food, we eat that food all our lives to grow, sharpen our minds and complete our daily tasks. Once our life is over, we go back and get decomposed and become food for our food. It’s a cycle. And sustaining this cycle is most important. Yoga suggests to have Sattvik vegetarian diet., vegetarian food comes at the top of food chain, therefore getting the nutrients from here is the best form for Ananmaya Kosha.
Ananmaya Kosha, covers everything that we receive from our senses. Sun, Water, Air everything changes us and has an impact on us. Above vegetarian food, the Sun is the main source of energy, even plants uses sun’s energy to grow. 6-7 minutes of exposure to sun and sun-gazing strictly at the time of sun-rise and sun-set, helps in re-energizing the body.
Having fresh vegetarian food is very important, so is how it is grown and cooked. These days growing food is becoming very commercial, and to get more yield farmer uses various harmful fertilizers and pesticides. It is important to make sure that food is grown naturally, with organic fertilizers. No chemical are used. Cooking technique to maintain all the prana of food is very important. It is recommended to cook the food on low flame in earthen pots so that no prana, nutrients, flavour is lost. Earthen pots are very good for such purpose as they provide more flavour and no additional additives are added into it. Above all food cooked with love and Devotion. It’s is more conclusive for yoga and spiritual existance. Various research says that food or water, they have memory of from where they travel and have been. They are affected by the scenarios around us. A Japanese researcher and healer, Dr. Masaru Emoto, did experiment on water molecules which proved that human thoughts and surroundings can physically change the water’s molecular structure.
More than eating, not eating is more natural for our bodies. Fasting, is very important for regulation of all the body and bringing back the balance. Now that the daily activities are decreasing in everyone life, the food we eat is not being used properly. It gets stuck on the intestine walls. It is very important to give time to body to digest this food by fasting. Also, fasting helps in regularizing the salts in the body. It helps a person to stay fit and healthy.
Smallest part of body is affected by what we eat. One should be very careful of what goes in from our mouth, skin, eyes, nose and ears.
Written by Saksi Jindal, yogi and architect, Delhi, India
Reference and Special thanks to –
The yoga cook book by Shivananda Yoga Vedanta Center
Aarti, Anmol, Nimai Leela, Raghuraj and Doctor Girish Rathore
Dr. Masaru Emoto
Subah Jain from Satvic Movement (YouTube)