Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Yogi Diet

“We are constantly being bombarded with stimuli, and these make up the diet of our lifestyle. From the food we eat, the air we breathe, the things we see, feel, hear and touch, our environment is formed and this in turn profoundly influences and shapes our internal environment. We are what we eat literally, for the mind is constructed out of the subtlest parts of our diet and the body from the rest. To achieve the goal of life, to find contentment and perfection requires a peaceful and focused mind. To control the mind is difficult since it is in reality very much under the control of our physical body. It is therefore suggested that we first discipline and control the physical body and the mind may be easily controlled. Diet plays an important part of the process.” Swami Visnu-Devananda.

The yogi diet is traditionally a vegetarian and lacto one, mainly consisting of grains, pulses, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and dairy products. It follows a simple, natural and wholesome ethos bearing in mind the subtle effects food has on the mind and the prana (vital energy.) There are many health reasons to become vegetarian, as well as psychological, spiritual, moral and macro-economic.

In my own experience and coming from a big meat eating family, I thought it was going to be a difficult task, however cutting down gradually and then eliminating all meat products wasn’t hard at all, and I can truly say that I have never felt so healthy in my life, this is definitely due to diet and all the asana’s, pranayama and meditation practice combined that I do each day. My body feels clean, and now after two years of following this diet I could never go back. One thing I noticed after some time of being vegetarian, maybe after 3-6 months that my flexibility increased and certain asana’s (yoga postures) were becoming easier than I had found them before.

There are so many benefits of following the yogi diet, just from a health point of view, we can reduce the risks of high blood pressure, heart attacks, hardening of the arteries, arthritis, gout, constipation, cancer, kidney diseases and osteoporosis to name but a few! The American Medical Journal states that a vegetarian diet can prevent 90% of our thromboembolic disease and 97% of our coronary occlusions.

As a Yogi, we take a lot of our prana (vital energy) from the sun, hence in our diet we like to eat foods that have taken maximum energy from the sun and nutrients from the earth, the closer our food is to the source the more potent the energy. Therefore eating plants that create protein and avoid undesirable elements, i.e. large amounts of antibiotics, pesticides and residue of tranquillisers that are found in meat, is best for the yogi.

In yoga philosophy the mind is formed from the subtlest portion or essence of food, if the food is pure, the mind has proper building materials for the development of a strong and subtle intellect and a good memory. A yogi diet is one that brings inner peace to the body and mind, pure foods that increase vitality, energy, vigour, health and joy, that are delicious and wholesome are best. Foods should be fresh and natural as possible, organic, not processed and eaten in the most natural state as possible, raw, steamed or lightly cooked.

You should include, grains, wholegrain breads, which supply the carbohydrates needed, pulses, nuts and seeds provide the proteins. Fruits have the foremost importance in the yogi diet; the curative effects of fresh juicy fruits are astonishing. They fill the body with vitalising life-giving minerals, vitamins and fibre. Leafy vegetables, squashes, cucumbers eaten raw or as lightly cooked as possible are wonderful yogic food. We also have to think about what veggies we are taking in, some are quite stimulating and therefore not good for the quiet and calm mind, such as chilli, onions and garlic, so try to omit these as much as possible.

My lunch today, apple, melon, cucumber, cashew nuts, carrot and some rye crackers, with a fresh watermelon juice, yum yum!

Om shanti shanti shanti
Smiling from the heart.

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