Following the yoga diet is one part of being a true yogi, and also serves as an important tool for leading a healthy life. In total, there are five main principles that make up yoga called The Five Principles of Yoga, all of which complement one another. Eating a proper diet allows one to gain the greatest betterment from yogic exercise and meditation. The Yogi Diet is not technically a diet nor a special regimen to follow, but rather a healthy way to consume the right kinds of food. Most yogis traditionally choose to eliminate meat from their diets, but even if one chooses to remain eating meant it is possible to follow the other guidelines set forth for the Yoga Diet.
Yogis believe that the unexposed universe carries three characteristics of energy which are called Gunas and consist of Sattava, Rajas, and Tamas. When existing energy is clearly defined, one of these aspects of energy becomes a stronger force than the other two. Take for examples a vegetable garden; a portion of the tomatoes are in the process of becoming ripe – rajastic, another portion of the same plant’s tomatoes are ripe – sattvic, while others are overly ripe – tamastic. Wherever one of these qualities is found, the others are found within its existence. Even a single tomato may possess each of the three characteristics of energy. All of the Three Gunas are found together in everything that exists in our universe, and in every activity.
All foods fall into one of the three qualities on energy (Sattava, Rajas, and Tamas) and have certain characteristics. You can learn to balance your food intake and eat a yogic diet by recognizing how much food you eat from each category. You may eat healthy food, but in large proportions the caloric intake will be stored as fat when unused by the body. Consuming things in moderation is the key to health and a fit figure.
Sattavic foods are the best type to eat, and yoga students should pay special attention to the nourishment that falls into the group. Sattavic foods are ideal for relaxing the mind which allows it to function well. The foods that fall into the Sattavic category are fruits and vegetables along with their juices, dairy products, whole meal breads, healthy cereals, legumes, seeds, nuts, and honey and herbal teas.
Rajastic foods disrupt the equalizing connection between the mind and body, and tend to have very strong tastes. Eating any type of food too quickly changes the food to Rajastic. Rajastic foods in excess will cause the body to function at a highly stimulated level, and disturb the calm mind. Rajastic foods tend to be spicy, salty, bitter, sour, or dry. Included in this category are strong spices or herbs, coffee, tea, other stimulants, salt, chocolate, and the proteins fish and eggs.
The last food category of a Yoga Diet is Tamastic foods. All of the foods that fall into this group do little or no good for the body, making them harmful to consume. Not only do they extract energy, but the foods also cause negative energy in the mind. The immune system can weaken due to Tamastic foods. Overindulging oneself in food can also turn it to a Tamastic food, whether it was or not initially. The foods in this group include any foods that are stale, fermented, or over ripened such as vinegar and alcohol along with meat, garlic, onions, and tobacco products.
Some yogi choose to strictly enforce their diets so they come as close as possible to the Yoga Diet, while others loosely abide by the rules. Either way, health is a choice. If you plan on doing the yogic exercises – the asanas – the given guidelines will enable you to make the most of the practice. The body will be leaner, more flexible, and much healthier. It is not to say that the occasional glass of wine will give one poor health, but in excess it can disrupt the body’s natural balance which can lead to health issues. As always, it is important to talk to your doctor before you change your eating regimen, and please follow the guidelines in a safe, responsible manner.