The human being with the highest intellect should use it properly. Yogic science suggestions for wellness depend on food and other relevant things. This applies to all fields like eating, carrying out worldly activities, etc. Laziness will lead to nowhere. Lord Krishna in Gita says; he who deploys moderation in eating, enjoyment, work, and sleep, he alone has perfected the yoga and destroys all pain and suffering. Along with this, one should indulge in some sort of physical activity that allows sweating a bit. This also helps to get rid of certain physical and mental afflictions. To this Lord also adds that your sleep too should be appropriate. The majority of us don’t know in which direction to sleep, the effect of the earth’s magnetic field, etc. Well, that’s a separate topic that will deal with some other topic. Let’s deal with Food in this article.
Importance of food and effect on Human being
Lord Krishna says, yoga fructifies only in the lives of those who lead their lives sensibly. Food is an important aspect of judicious living and it has a tremendous effect on human beings. One thing you must know that the gross aspect of food makes your body and it is a subtle part that makes your mind. Thus, your dietary selections need to be such that it nurtures your body as well as the mind. Please don’t eat that which is merely tasty to your tongue, rather eat that which will impart strength, energy, and vitality to your life. And know, as is your mind, so will be your food choices. here we will cover
- Classification of Food According to Yogic Science
- Role of Food in Meditation
- What Yogis Eat or Diet for Spiritual Aspirants
A healthy body is crucial for the performance of spiritual practices. According to Gita- we find an elaborate account of the types of food depends on the natural inclination of the mind.
Classification of Food According to Yogic Science
Broadly food is divided into three categories- Sattva guna, Rajoguni, and Tamoguni depending on the gunas of a person.
- Sattva guna Foods: Those foods which augment one’s longevity, intellect, strength, health, and joy is sattvic food. This type of food is naturally appealing to a sattva guni person. Sattvic food increases your life span- well then this implies that there are foods that reduce your life expectancy. Hot spicy, greasy foods take a long time to digest. When most part of the energy is used up for digestion will there be any scope for other activities? Sattvic food is not dry or desiccated. Rather it is moist, succulent. It is appealing to the mind and calms the senses. Many people eat raw vegetables in the name of sattvic food. But know the fact -eating raw vegetables increases intestinal gas. Eating a small portion of raw vegetables as the salad is good but don’t overdo that. If you keep on munching on raw vegetables in every meal, invariably you will suffer from bloating and problems related to it. Similarly, avoid eating food that is burnt or mushy. Use your common sense and eat a balanced meal which is appetizing to your eyes and taste buds too. Moreover, eat in accordance with your nature and keep the effect of the season in mind too. As a general rule eat light, nutritious food that gets digested in an hour or so. Milk, barley, wheat, cereals, butter, cheese, tomatoes, honey, dates, fruits, almonds, and sugar-candy are all Sattvic foodstuffs.
Majority of our population falls in the next groups
- Rajasic Foods: This is the next category of food the rajasic folks love. These people are fond of eating sour, bitter, salty, tangy, spicy foods which creates stress and other mental disorders. Rajoguni food increases bodily pitta leading to diseases like gastric ulcers, skin disorders, sleep disorders. Fish, eggs, meat, salt, chilies, and asafoetida are Rajasic foodstuffs. They excite passion.
- Tamoguni Foods: this is the third category of foods. Ill cooked spoiled and non-vegetarian food(meat, egg, etc). These foods appeal to the Tamoguni community. People tend to pile up their fridges with cooked food and eat stale food over days. This no doubt saves time but is not good for your health. Beef, wine, garlic, onions, and tobacco are Tamasic foodstuffs. They fill the mind with anger, darkness, and inertia.
Role of Food in Meditation
Food plays a significant part in meditation. Diverse foods produce diverse effects on different sections of the brain. For purposes of meditation, the food should be light, nutritious and Sattvic. Milk, fruits, almonds, butter, sugar-candy, green gram, Bengal gram soaked in water overnight, bread, etc., are all very helpful in meditation. Thed (a kind of root available in plenty in the Himalayan regions) is considered Sattvic. Tea and sugar should be used in moderation. It is conducive if you can give them up entirely.
Dried ginger-powder can be mixed with milk and taken frequently. Indian Yogis like this very much. Another stuff is myrobalan of the yellow variety which can be chewed now and then. In the Bhagavata Gita, it is represented as even superior to a nourishing mother. It takes care of the body better than a mother does. It preserves semen and stops all nocturnal emissions. Potato, boiled without salt or baked on fire, is considered an excellent food for practitioners.
What Scriptures Say Regarding Food
Siva Samhita points out: “Yoga should not be practiced immediately after a meal, nor when one is very hungry. Before beginning the practice, some milk and butter should be taken.”
According to Yoga-Tattva Upanishad: “The expert in Yoga should abandon the food detrimental to the practice of Yoga. He should refrain salt, mustard, sour things, hot, pungent or bitter articles, asafoetida, women, emaciation of the body by fasts, etc.
In the Bhikshuka-Upanishad you come to know about: “Paramahamsas like Samavartaka, Aruni, Svetaketu, Jada Bharata, Dattatreya, Suka, Vamadeva, Haritaki, and others. They take eight mouthfuls and strive after Moksha alone through the path of Yoga.”
What Yogis Eat or Diet for Spiritual Aspirants
Ever pondered what is special about the way yogis eat? Here’s revealing some of the top secrets of yogis that can help attain a balance between the mind, body, and soul. Yogis believe that the yogic diet is the summation of physical health or well being along with our feelings, sentiments and spiritual upliftment.
An Alkaline start
There is an accumulation of toxins and acids in our bodies overnight, hence drinking of lemon water on an empty stomach is very dear to yoga. It is extremely alkaline, detoxifies and stimulates all the organs. Add rock salt slightly to it and you amplify its detoxifying power.
All thing in yoga is related to prana (life force). Food which has prana gives us physical and emotional strength. The method of sprouting is given top importance. “It’s one of the best ways to consume functional “live” enzymes. Enzymes play a pivotal role in digestion and fighting disease.
Yoga believes that the accumulation of toxins creates disease. Wrong eating habits, exposure to chemicals, the build-up of negative emotions lead to an imbalance of mind and body. Fasting is one of the most common practices that can counter-balance this. There are various ways of fasting: water fast, fruit fast, giving up one or two meals in a day.
A famous yogi once said: “The greatest enemy of health and long life is overeating.” There is a term “Mitahara” in yoga, which means moderate eating, leaving one-quarter of the stomach empty for the movement of air.
Herbs & adaptogens
Teas or concoctions of intensely flavored and power-packed herbs like turmeric, ginger, coriander, pepper, cinnamon, and cardamom are the favorite beverages for yogis. They are anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and detoxifying in nature. Yoga also encourages the use of adaptogens like Ashwagandha and Triphala.
What we can conclude
One should eat freshly cooked food using seasonal vegetables, for these are rich in nutrients. Cooking is an art as well as Science. Cook intelligently and passionately. Give cooking your loving attention. The state of your mind whilst cooking affects the quality of the food. The spices, vegetables may remain the same, but when cooked with care and love the taste increases manifold. On the other hand, when one cooks with passion and care, the same food will be dreadful to eat.
Live your life with awareness. Try to know what to eat, when to eat and how to eat. When the diet is wrong, medicines are of no use. And when the diet is right, medicines are of no need.
Embrace our time-honored culture and learn the art of maintaining a healthy body and a stress-free, joyous mind.