In sanskrit “prana” is the vital source of energy from the universe that exists around us and sustain us. You must have heard this before that “we are what we eat”. Diet plays a vital role in energy production. Improper diet will block or reduce the energy while with proper diet we will benefit from the vital energy of prana. When we are low on energy, like when we are stressed out or depressed, it is tempting to grab or prepare ready to eat, or packaged meals but at this point diet is more important than ever before. When you eat improper diet at this point, you are digging yourself into additional stress and fatigue and the viscous circle continues unless you break it with the correct diet. So when we talk about proper yogic diet then the obvious question is what is yoga diet? but before we get to this, I first want to talk about foods that provide us the endless vitality “prana”, which itself will lead to the discussion of yoga diet.
Food has vital energy called prana
According to yoga and ayurvedic, all our vital source of energy is obtained from five major elements of the universe; the sun, air, space, earth and water. I have explained this in my previous post about the sources of energy while discussing what is yoga mudra. Our navel is believed to be the storehouse of prana, hence proper diet is important for overall healthy body. Think of your body as a chargeable battery, it can keep running for a while but eventually it will need to be recharged or else all the energy will be drained.
Food has vital energy stored in it. In order to derive this energy from food, you should eat whole foods in their most natural form. The fresher the food, the greater the source of energy or prana that it will possess. Any type of food that has been processed or been sitting too long in the store shelves or in your fridge will not provide any source of prana to your body.
Sattvic Diet is the yogic diet
The food that we eat influences our thinking process and behaviour. According to the oldest yoga centre in the world, “the yoga institute” in yoga, they are three types of diets that give rise to different levels of mindsets, as diet is closely connected to the mind. The three “gunas” means qualities in a person are sattvic, rajasic and tamasic. Sattvic diet purifies our mind, hence yogic diet should be sattvic. Sattvic is a pure, clear and balanced mind that is influenced by a pure vegetarian diet with foods such as whole grain food, fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, sprouts, herbs, lentils, milk and dairy products like milk but free from animal proteins such as eggs. The second type is the rajasic; a person with a rajasic mind is often active, aggressive and in a rush, such people are difficult to deal with as they are prone to indulge into an argument at anytime. The Rajasic diet consists of rich and spicy foods that are high in flavour of salt, bitterness and sweet such as chocolates and sugary foods, deep fried food, caffeine. These food give instant energy but eventually reduce the body energy level and cause stress. The third type is the tamasic; a person with a tamasic mind is slow, lazy and pessimistic, they often escape from situations or are simply lazy to take any action. The tamasic diet consists of processed foods, meat, onion, garlic, prepackaged stuff with chemicals such as tobacco, alcohol. These foods cause dullness and lethargy.
We have seen these apply in real life situations. After a heavy or rich meal, we are deprived of energy and loose focus while the mind starts to wander. Its the same thing with alcohol, we have little or no control over our mind as we get extremely excited or sad. The tamasic and rajasic diet, causes disturbed state of mind, such as past emotions may take over your present state of mind and cause unpredictable behaviour. Furthermore, you will crave for more junk, rich and spicy foods which contributes to the vicious cycle which I talked about in the starting of this post.
However every person has some characteristics of all the three gunas (qualities), hence we have one guna more dominant than the other, while people who are balanced with sattvic guna are rare. Therefore, with our current lifestyle it is difficult to cut down altogether on the rajasic and tamasic diet, but we must try to limit them as much as possible.
Yoga Diet should be vegetarian
According to the first limb of yoga, if you want to follow a strict yogic path, you should avoid meat altogether. The first limb is ahimsa which means “non-violence”, it says that we should not harm any living things. The prana that we receive from meat is second hand, as the animal first derived their source of energy from the soil. However, if you eat meat, then try to find organic or free range meat otherwise it works as the prana- decline in our body. The stress that animals go through while slaughtering them, is passed on to our bloodstream through the meat. That is why it is said that only eat your meal when you calm down or when you are in good mood.
Eat meals only in good mood
When we are stressed or sitting in a humped position while eating, the digestive system does not generate sufficient juices to aid the digestion process, which slows down the digestion. Hence for the same reason, it is not a good idea to drink water after eating, as water washes out the digestive juices and slows down the process. Therefore, the digestive system now has to work harder to break down the food, which means instead of charging your energy by consuming food, your energy is being depleted as most of the body energy is being used on digesting food, in addition to that you will have a bloating problem.
So have you tried the yogic diet or thinking of trying it? Leave your questions or comments below and I will try to get back to you within 24 hours. Thank you for dropping by.