What is a Yogic Diet?
A yogic diet is a balanced diet that nourishes our body, our mind and our spirit. In modern time with so many processed food with conflicting media advertisement to entice our addictive impulses, it is hard to remain disciplined and only consume food that truly benefit our overall health. Thus it is even more crucial to understand the pros and cons of our food habits.
According to yogic tradition, we are advised to eat foods that are natural, clean, conscious, honest, compassionate, simple, essential, pure and high in vitality if in order to benefit the most out of this human life.
There is a potential for a human to get enlightened, question our own consciousness, lead a life free of extreme sufferings and then help others get enlightened as well, and be part of the decision makers in how the future of humanity as well as our ecosystem is shaped.
An opportunity which perhaps no other animal gets. So Yoga views everything we consume in physical form, mental or emotional as well spiritual as having a great impact on our well-being.
Yoga ask us to open a dialogue between our mind and body, not in a conflicting way but in an honest, aware, gentle and an unbiased way.
Here, we will talk about physical foods that we consume.
As per the text, there are three types of food category which influences the three gunas or qualities of energy, proportion of which defines our energetic character.
Sattvic ( Goodness, clarity and Balanced) ,
Rajasic ( Passion, active and ambition) and
Tamasic ( Dullness, Inertia and confusion).
If one has tendency to be lazy like me – that’s a more tamasic energy, understanding this allows me to combat it a constructive way by eating food that are more sattvic and rajasic.
If one has too much ambition and fire, we see escalation of aggression at the expense of others happiness, in fights, wars and environmental destruction.
If “one eats to live and not live to eat” – then making a choice to eat mostly sattvic food is relatively easy but many of us live to eat and which create so much drama in our internal realm. In those moments, instead of falling into the trap of making an enemy out of yourself, keep an open, unbiased, compassionate state and enjoy your vice fully so there is no longer a longing afterwards.
Be there with your food, 100% if you can, tasting every bite, chewing them well like you have eaten it for the first time ! 🙂 And do this with same routine with a sattvic or rajasic food depending on your need.
Three categories of food
Sattvic ( Truth/wisdom/goodness) food: Foods that restores, vitalizes and awakens the body/mind in a balance way. Most vegetables, fruits and wholesome foods.
Rajasic ( Passion/aggression/bias) Food: Foods that generates too much fire and stimulation leading to aggression, irritability, control, and indulgence into pleasure. Such as sour, pungent, bitter,salty, hot, oily friend foods.
Tamasic ( Ignorance/ Heaviness/ Stupidity) food: Foods that are harmful and destructive to the body and mind. Examples are pork and animal flesh. Putrid, tasteless and decomposed foods.
These ancient texts breaks down our body into five sheaths or koshas. It might be hard for a materialist to understand this break down but if we just pause and check if we each have this body, we will realize that we do possess each of these sheath, some prominent than others due to our habitual attachment to that sheath.
Annamaya Kosha – The food body.
Pranamaya Kosha – Breath/ Vital energy body
Manomaya Kosha – Thought body
Vignanamaya Kosha – Wisdom/ Intellect body
Anandamaya Kosha – Bliss body
As we see from the picture and the above distinctions that Annamaya kosha is the grossest or the most physical sheath. However many of us are only aware of this body and oblivious of the rest of the four. This has much to do with the dominant empirical culture which is yet to catch up to the study of subtle energy that cannot be evidenced by the five senses…such as mind, consciousness, vital force, bacteria, atoms and molecules, etc. Modern science is a wonderful tool in studying what we can sense with our five senses but fails greatly when it comes to understanding the true player of the game, – the mind with which these sense organs and objects comes into contact before perception, decisions, thoughts, feelings, emotions are labeled.
Anna means Food and Maya means made of. Thus Annamaya Kosha is a body made up of food we consume. So naturally “you are what you eat” is apt here. What we consume translates to the quality of our skin, muscles, bones, tendons and connective tissues, immune system, and the rest. It is very easy for get stuck in this kosha and not go deeper into the influence our breath, thoughts and emotions on our health. As a result the whole western medical system is geared towards superficial relief from the symptoms instead of diving deeper into the actual root causes of these symptoms and find true healing.
From yogic science perspective, the primary way to impact Annamaya Kosha is through the practice of asanas or physical yoga poses. Asanas bring deeper awareness into our body, and makes us notice and recognize the limitation of identifying our soul with just this body. It also allows us to be open to the inherent wisdom that our physical body carries and teaches us to listen to them if we are to heal and enjoy good health.
May you make a choice today to love yourself, be aware of what you are putting in your body.
May your food truly nourish your whole being, bring health and vitality.