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Principles of Yogic Diet

The practice of yoga goes beyond mere physical exercise. It encompasses a spiritual philosophy and a holistic approach to health and healing. One essential aspect of yoga is the yogic diet, which prioritizes the consumption of foods that promote physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. If you want to take your yoga practice to the next level, look no further. This comprehensive guide will provide you with valuable tips, tricks, and strategies to transition to a yogic diet and experience inner and outer peace.

Yogic Diet

The 3 Principles of the Yogic Diet

The yogic diet is built upon three fundamental principles: Ahimsa, Saucha, and Sattva.


Ahimsa

Ahimsa, meaning "non-violence," emphasizes the interconnectedness of all living beings. Followers of the yogic diet strive to minimize harm to living beings and the environment by limiting their consumption of meat, fish, and dairy. For many practitioners, yoga and vegetarianism or veganism go hand in hand.


Saucha

Saucha focuses on purity and cleanliness. When applied to diet, it means ensuring that the foods you consume are free from chemicals and impurities. Opting for organic, non-GMO foods and washing them thoroughly before consumption promotes Saucha.


Sattva

Sattva represents the state of serenity that yogis aspire to attain. By consuming sattvic foods, individuals cultivate a calm heart and a clear mind, which leads to inner peace. Sattvic foods are considered intelligent, as they are in their natural state. They are light, nourishing, fresh, sweet, and rich in Prana (vital energy). Sattvic foods primarily include plant-based options such as seasonal fruits and vegetables, pulses, herbs, nuts, and grains.


Knowing Your Sattvic, Rajasic, and Tamasic Foods

In the yogic diet, it is essential to be aware of three types of foods and their effects on physical, mental, and spiritual health.


Sattvic Foods

Sattvic foods are considered the most beneficial for overall well-being. They are fresh, nourishing, and abundant in Prana. Sattvic foods include seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs, and natural sweeteners. They support a lean, healthy body and provide sustained energy.


Rajasic Foods

Rajasic foods, once sattvic, lose their Prana due to freezing, frying, or improper cooking methods. They are stimulating and can overexcite the nervous system. Rajasic foods tend to be salty, bitter, spicy, fried, and high in sugars and spices. Examples include eggs, onions, garlic, fermented foods, refined sugars, caffeine, tobacco, and junk food. While small quantities may not have a significant negative impact, excessive consumption can lead to health issues such as ulcers, constipation, and the exacerbation of conditions like arthritis, diabetes, and obesity.


Tamasic Foods

Tamasic foods have lost all their Prana and are considered "dead" foods. They lack essential nutrients like cellulose, water, vitamins, and minerals. Tamasic foods include meats, fish, dairy products, canned goods, processed foods, alcohol, preservatives, stale food, and baked goods. It is advisable to avoid tamasic foods as they provide little to no nutritional value.


13 Foods to Avoid on a Yogic Diet

To align with the principles of the yogic diet, it is recommended to avoid the following rajasic and tamasic foods:

  1. Added sugar

  2. Added salt

  3. Onion and garlic

  4. Meat

  5. Fish

  6. Poultry

  7. Eggs

  8. Processed foods

  9. Artificial sugar

  10. Alcohol

  11. Caffeine

  12. Fried food

  13. Spicy food

4 Benefits of the Yogic Diet

Adopting the yogic diet offers several benefits that contribute to overall well-being:

  1. Improves Digestion: Research Indicates that a plant-based diet rich in sattvic foods promotes digestion and nurtures a healthy gut microbiome. This leads to regular bowel movements, reduced stomach problems like bloating and constipation, and increased energy levels.

  2. Boosts Metabolism: Consuming fresh, organic produce abundantly in fiber and vegetable fats supports a higher resting metabolic rate, according to research. This aids digestion, enhances energy levels, and facilitates calorie burning throughout the day.

  3. Increases Energy: Sustained energy is achieved by consuming nutrient-dense foods like nuts, grains, and legumes. These foods provide a steady flow of fuel, preventing energy crashes and maintaining vitality.

  4. Decreases Risk of Chronic Illnesses: Research indicates that following a plant-based diet reduces the risk of conditions such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other chronic ailments. Embracing the yogic diet contributes to a healthier and more vibrant life.

How to Follow the Yogic Diet: 6 Steps

Incorporating the yogic diet into your lifestyle can be achieved through the following steps:


Mindful Eating

Pay attention not only to what you eat but also to how you eat. Engage in mindful eating by savouring each mouthful in a meditative manner. This practice promotes slower eating, enables better portion control, and helps prevent overeating.


Eat at Regular Times

Establish a routine by consuming meals at specific times of the day. This allows your body to prepare for digestion and efficiently utilize energy. Aim to eat at least two hours before sleeping or practising yoga. Additionally, sitting in Vajrasana, a pose known for aiding digestion, for 15 minutes after meals can be beneficial.

Vajrasana - thunderbolt Pose

Eat Seasonal Food

Embrace the yogic diet by opting for locally grown, organic seasonal produce. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are ripe and naturally suited to the climate. They support local economies, reduce food miles, and provide optimal nutrition.


Switch to a Vegetarian or Vegan Diet

Consistent with the principle of ahimsa, a key aspect of the yogic diet is avoiding food that harms animals or the environment. Transitioning to a vegetarian or vegan diet is an effective way to align with this principle. There are now numerous plant-based alternatives available, making the switch easier than ever. Start by gradually reducing your intake or challenging yourself to a set number of meat and dairy-free days.


Consider Fasting

While not mandatory, fasting can be a way to cleanse the body of toxins and demonstrate devotion. Fasting involves abstaining from food (and sometimes drink) for a short period. It is crucial to consult a healthcare professional before fasting, as certain health conditions can lead to complications.


Incorporate Healing Herbs and Spices

Enhance your digestion and promote healing and cleansing by incorporating herbs and spices with beneficial properties into your meals. Ginger, fennel, cumin, turmeric, basil, mint, cardamom, coriander, and others can aid digestion. You can easily include them in your cooking or enjoy them through high-quality herbal teas.


Our diet plays a crucial role in our overall well-being. Adopting a yogic diet offers a sustainable, healthy, and joyful lifestyle. By practising mindful eating, consuming whole foods, and embracing the principles of the yogic diet, you can experience a wide range of benefits that extend beyond your yoga practice. However, it is essential to acknowledge that various financial and cultural circumstances may make it easier for some individuals to follow the yogic diet than others. Remember that yoga is inclusive, and your worth is not defined solely by what you eat.


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About the Author

Namaste! My name is Pooja Chauhan

I am a Yoga Alliance Certified Yoga Teacher and a practitioner. Diving deep into the realm of my own heritage to create a significant impact in preserving and sharing my culture with the world.

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