Yoga And Diet
Yoga is an instrument of life. It helps us improve as human beings, and sharing the wellness sensation that this practice generates is on its own satisfactory. Yoga is a discipline that helps us improve body elongation, built strength and balance, improve body posture, and improve the general body performance. This is achieved though physical and mental practices (Asanas and meditation) originating from ancient Hindu tradition that promotes the control over the body and the mind; yoga practices puts us on the track to accomplish the integration of the soul with the divinity.
We can understand Gunas as the qualities that hold the universe together that come from the yoga teachings. According to Hinduism they are inseparable elements that combine in different proportions to form the material objects. Guna in Sanskrit means: cordon, type, or more generally quality; its an energy that acts on our superficial mind and on our profound consciousness, moving it to a physical, emotional and metal level. Gunas are found equally in our behavior and alimentation, they exist in all the beings, translating as the equilibrium in coexisting that we have with the whole universe
In Ayurvedic medicine there are tree distinctive types of Guna used as a diagnostic system of body conditions and diet. These are:
- Sattva: it symbolizes harmony, virtue, kindness, intelligence, balance, peace, clarity, openness and the strength of love.
- Rajas: it translates into energy, over stimulation, causing imbalance, greed, power craving and dissatisfaction. Rajas are characteristic of people active at night.
- Tamas: symbolizes the more heavy qualities like inertia, heaviness, somnolence, ignorance, disillusion, and laziness. It blocks the spiritual awakening.
Now, how can we use this information on our daily diet?
Biologically we stimulate our consciousness and physical state with the food that we eat and the attitude toward life. If we pay attention to our alimentation, the way that we mix different food ingredients, it will be easier to classify them and built up a conscious nutritional plan. In this way we not only nourish the body, but also the soul, allowing us to fulfill a healthy life. As master Patanjali used to say: “Let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food.”
Satvic food: it comprises the ones that give us more vitality, good humor, tranquility. They help us keep a better mental and physical balance. This kind of food helps to purify the organism and clean energetic channels. They should be natural and fresh food, ideal to be eaten raw, or slightly cooked by boiling or on vapor. A few examples:
- Cereals (Quinoa, oat, rice, corn, millet, etc.): they are ideal to give our body the carbohydrates and amino acids that we use for protein synthesis
- Legumes, Grains and dried fruits (beans, lentils, chickpeas, nuts, almonds, etc.): they are rich in protein and low in fat.
- Dairy products and butters in moderate consumption
- Aromatic spices and fine herbs (coriander, rosemary, basil, oregano, parsley, thyme, among others): they stimulate our nervous and endocrine system.
- Fruits and vegetables: they supplement our body with vitamins, minerals and fiber. They also contain alkaline substances that help keep the body light and clean.
- Honey, molasses or maple syrup: they are used for sweetness in the Satvic diet.
Rajasics food: are bitter, sour, extremely spicy, and salty. They need more time to cook and they produce over excitement or addiction. A few examples are:
Onion, garlic, radish, tee, coffee, spicy food, chemical additives, refine sugar, soda pops, canned mustard, etc.
A Tamasic Diet: is based on old, spoiled, or expired food, also when we eat without care only to fill the belly and not to nourish the body. This diet far from producing energy it takes vital energy from us in order to be digested and leave us with a sensation of being tired, confused and dormant. This type of food produces toxins that generate disequilibrium in our bodies. Among this type of food we have meat, fish, fried food, alcoholic beverages, marijuana, opium, and some other drugs.
A correct diet is essential for the yoga practice. Food is the energy for an ideal life; the body needs energy and nutrients that come from the diet to fulfill all of its functions and activities (such as growth, development, digestion, metabolism, thinking and breathing). Besides that, they are necessary for the circulation of blood and oxygen and for the realization of any physical activity. Nutrients are found in different proportions on food, and none particular food on its own has all the nutrients needed for covering the body needs. That is why we need to eat a balanced diet.
Water is one of the most important components in our body. It’s also the main component in bodily fluids that participate in the transport of nutrients, organs lubrication (tears), and toxin elimination (urine). It also helps regulate the body temperature and many other processes in the organism. The body eliminates water every day so it should be consumed on a daily basis.
How Do We Put It On Practice?
First, we need to identify which guna is affecting our day-to-day life, which kind of food are we consuming and in which way, and what our attitude is (serene, angry, heavy). In this way we can make the necessary changes to a fuller and healthier life. How? By balancing the food that we put on our table.
An example: If one is an aggressive person and does not consume veggies, but loves yoga, they can work on the flexibility of thoughts and mind, giving the opportunity to eat a delicious and fresh salad (and their stomach will surely be pleased).
If you love meat or fish, that’s not a bad thing. You do however need to control the amount you consume and increase the amount of vegetables that you eat in order to reach a sense of satiety.
Remember, yoga is the union between our body, spirit, mind and soul. Great teachers certify that the perfect alimentation is the Satvica, which is a vegetarian diet, free of guilt. Nevertheless, these are personal decisions. Once we have in our power the correct information we can use it with our consciousness and for the benefit of our mental and physical health. We are responsible for what we put into our bodies and in the way we digest it. Every step in knowledge is an opportunity to transform habits and attitudes. In yoga it is profoundly believed that in the Ahimsa (no violence and respect to life) is the correct path to transit.
With these in mind, I personally do not mean to imply that is a sin to have a couple of glasses of wine, or to go to a barbecue with friends. Rather, I mean to give importance to the act of eating, enjoying every bite with mindfulness, grace, and premeditation, and to feed ourselves to the fulfillment of a healthy and happy life.
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