Good Health is a state of complete physical, mental & social well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. WHO
Yukthar Viharasya Yuktachestasya Karmsu
Yuktsva-Pav Bodhasya Yogo Bhavti Duhkha
Is the food merely a way of staying alive and keeping in health an opportunity for fellowship with your family and friends; a token of security and love taken for granted as your right; or a precious gift from God for which you are thankful?
In fact, Food has been the primary concern of humankind and the destinies of individuals are greatly influence by it. People must eat to live and what they eat will affect in a high degree to their ability to keep well, to work, to be happy & to live long. Food which provides our body all the nutrients does influence our health status. If the individual is well fed, it helps him to achieve a state of health which enables him to play a responsible role in the society.
The Yogic concept of food takes into consideration, the total dimension of human existence. Apart from the atoms and molecules, from which our gross physical body is made of, we all possess Prana, Mind, Intellect, Emotions & Spiritual Dimensions. ‘Yoga’ is that process by which we bring an integration of the entire personality at all these levels. The stamina of the body is to be developed, the Prana should be calmed down, the Emotion should be stablished and the Intellect should be under control.
A ‘BALANCE DIET’ according to Yoga, is the diet which restores balance at all levels. Such diets aid in HOLISTIC WAY OF LIVING.
Yoga classified food into 3 categories:-
Yaatayaamam gatarasam pooti
Paryushitam Ca yat
Ucchishtam apicaa medhyam bhojanam
That which is stale, tasteless, stinking, cooked overnight, reuse and impure is the TAMASIK FOOD.
Yaatayaamam: One Yama is 3 hours. Food that become cold is considered as stale. Canned food, Preserved fruits & vegetables and refrigerated items are generally liked by majority of us.
Gatarasam devoid of taste and essence.
Pooti Foul smelling.
Paryushitam stale, food cooked overnight or that has been kept for days together.
Ucchishtam Left over- that which is left over and reuse.
Amedhyam Impure and filthy food, not fit for human consumption.
The foods which are partially spoiled, which have lost its essence, have been processed for too long, preserved in a way having no spark of life, or which lack the vitality of food are generally considered as Tamasik foods. Energy and vitality are almost absent in such foods. Degeneration and accumulation of excessive matter in diseases like obesity are likely to occur
Foods that are katu-bitter, amla-sour, lavana-saline, atiushna streaming hot, teekshna-pungent, rookshna-dry, vidaahinaha-burning are the RAJASIK FOODS.
Definitely, these diets create brillenat energy and keeps all vigorous men restlessly striving to fulfill their uncontrolled passions and desires. Hence in their final reactions, they lead them towards a life productive of PAIN, GRIEF AND DISEAS.”.
rasayaaha srigdhaaha sthiraa hridyaa
Those foods which increase the Ayah-Life (Vitality), Sattva-purity, Bala-strength (Stamina), Arogya-health, Sukha-happiness and Preeti-cheerfulness and good appetite are considered as sattavik foods.
In contrast to Tamasik and Rajasik foods, sattvik foods are mild — neither overcooked or undercooked — are experienced as leading a calm alertness and at the same time, a state of quiet energy. Sattvik foods not only provide nourishment for the body but also add vitality to the total system by bringing a perfect, harmonious balance of energy states in the food. These foods give strength from within and supply strength to muscles. Foods like fresh fruits, wholesome grains and fresh milk of cow are considered as Sattvik foods.
There is a very popular Yogic saying YOU ARE, WHAT YOU EAT. It may be interpreted as the human body and all its components are made directly or indirectly from the foods it is fed. Doctors and Scientists of modern times have now added a new corollary to this old adage i.e. “what we eat, directly affects our brain and behaviour”. Eating highly refined and processed foods, lead to Colon Cancer, Haemorrhoids, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Constipation and Gall Stones. Alcohol, Carbonated Beverages and Caffeine containing drinks such as coffee may lead to Bladder Cancer.
The yogic notion “the food one eats, the mind one has” can be interpreted in modern language as “the food one eats, in fact affects the way one feels, behaves, reacts or uses one’s intellect”.
Our ancient Yoga Masters including Patanjali, Matsyendranath, Gorakshnath, Gherand, Swatma Ram and others advocated SATTVIK DIET of pure and fresh foods, comprised mainly of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and pulses. They also taught abstinence from ‘Tamasik’ Diet of animal flesh and animal byproducts, which in modern times, may also include stored, canned and frozen foods. Their slogan is “EAT FOOD AS CLOSE TO THEIR NATURAL STATE AS POSSIBLE”.
Essentials of Yogic Diet
- Diet consisting of ‘Sattvik Foods’ should be preferred as it not only claims to help to promote longevity, health and happiness but also helps the practitioner a long way in maintaining a clear and unwavering mind.
- ‘Rajasik’ and ‘Tamasik’ foods must be avoided. The Rajasik food is said to produce excitement whereas the Tamasik food is known for creating dullness. However, both are known to make the consciousness dull and also for impeding the spiritual progress.
- Tend to eat light, nutritious and sattvik food, especially during meditation.
- Yogic food should be wholesome, palatable, congenial and should not be eaten merely to gratify the senses.
- The practitioner must avoid those foods which are known to induce injurious effects and should strictly restrict to the recommended foods for the conduct of practice of yoga.
- A Yoga Practitioner must use a variety of wholesome and unrefined food and vegetables prepared in a simple manner.
- A Yoga Practitioner must avoid refined foods.
- They should also avoid junk foods as Yoga Practitioner should be natural and simple in eating.
- A Yoga Practitioner should be above taste, deliciousness and palatability. He should shed all cravings for any particular diet.
- A Practitioner must moderate the quantity and quality of food. Artificial hunger/thirst must be curbed & restrained. He should learn to fill half of his stomach with solid foods 1/4th with fluids. The remaining quarter must be kept empty for free flow of gases.
Yoga Practitioner must always remember a golden rule that his nutritional wisdom lies in eating the whole food in its natural form.