A beginner's guide to yogic diet
Yoga is a mind-body fusion that evolves your consciousness and makes you more present. While yoga can elevate your physical and mental well-being, you need to couple it up with a wholesome diet to reap the maximum benefits.
Yogic diet is not exclusive to a yogi. It is a holistic diet that anyone can follow along with a certain lifestyle habits to make their body function at its optimum.
What is Yogic diet?
An old saying goes, “You are, what you eat!”. This expression comes from the very fact that what we put inside our body metabolizes to provide us the energy we need for our cells to function, regenerate tissues and becomes the body itself that we live in. So, a yogic diet is basically eating mindfully to nourish the body with what it requires for smooth functioning.
Yogic diet focuses on whole foods. It contains more of living foods like vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts and herbs. They put a lot of emphasis on fresh, raw food and organic food that is least processed, pure and retains all its nutrients.
Your daily food choices fuel your energy system and influence your way of being. A yogic diet is based on three types of pranic foods –
Sattva (Positive pranic foods) – adds vital energies to your system – fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, black pepper, honey, ashgourd, ghee, sprouts, jaggery, whole grains, lentils, cereals, etc.
Tamas (Negative pranic foods) – stimulates nervous sytem and takes away vital energies from your system, – garlic, onion, asafoetida, chillies, tea, coffee, eggplant, alcohol and other nervous stimulants
Rajas (Zero pranic foods) – neither adds nor subtracts, satisfies your taste buds, makes you lethargic – potato, tomato
5 Tips to practice yogic diet
Eat fresh – In a yogic culture, it is always advisable to consume cooked food within 1.5 hours after if comes off the stove. Any later it is said to create lethargy in your system and set in inertia. Anything that is raw and uncooked retains all its nutrients and is healthier for your body.
Chew your food properly – Ancient Ayurveda suggests taking a morsel and chewing it 24 times. With this you will be able to break down food particles and partially digest them in your mouth. This will ensure better digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Eat what’s far from you genetically – As per yogi and mystic Sadhguru, your body is just an accumulation of the food that you eat, after it has been transformed and assimilated. There is a certain intelligence, memory, and genetic code in the body that determines what the food that you eat is converted into. Simple food is simpler to break down and process. In the yogic tradition, it is said that you must eat what is furthest away from you, genetically. As life evolves, the information and memory an organism carries get increasingly complex. In that sense, plant life is furthest away from us. If you must eat non-vegetarian food, it is advised to consume fish, because among the animals, it is furthest away from a human being, if you look at it from an evolutionary perspective. As the first animal life on the planet is thought to have evolved in water, the first avatara was matsya avatara or the fish.
Right food for the right time – The food we eat acts as a fuel for our body to cope with the changing weather. Consuming seasonal foods provides with essential nutrients and energy required to adjust the body as per a particular season, weather or climatic conditions. For example, winter is cold and can cause extreme dryness. Hence, sesame is eaten to produce heat in the body and keep it warm. Similarly, summer brings with it a lot of cooling seasonal fruits like mangoes and watermelons, that keep the body cool and prevent breakouts.
Do not immediately go to bed after eating – You must keep a gap of atleast 2 hours after your meal and before going to bed. It takes time for your system to digest food. Digestion raises your metabolic activity. If you sleep in such a state, you will neither sleep well nor digest well! Depending on what you ate, a large portion of the food can go undigested if you sleep immediately after eating.