Yoga Diet: Yoga is an ancient science. It has all along insisted on a nourishing but non-stimulant, vegetarian diet. Yogic diet satisfies three main conditions.
1.It is nourishing. It provides all the essential nutrients to the body.
2.It is vegetarian.
3.It is pure and non-stimulating.
According to medical science, if food satisfies the condition first as explained above, if yes then it is fit for consumption. But yoga, being a subtle science, makes subtle distinctions. Proper food is the first requisite of a person.
Yoga becomes the destroyer of woes and can be accomplished only by him who is regulated and moderated in diet and recreation, regulated in performing actions, and regulated in sleeping and waking.
So, one who wants to advance on the path of yoga should pay attention to his diet. There is no conflict between yoga and modern science as far as the principle of a balanced diet is concerned. Yoga diet would exclude all those food items which are non-vegetarian and intoxicating because according to yoga, food is not for physical fitness alone, it also affects the mental and spiritual state of a being. So, yogic diet, apart from giving physical fitness, is conducive to mental as well as spiritual upliftment. It is simple, natural and Sattvic, besides being nourishing. In fact, yoga lays emphasis on Sattvic food.
Yoga divides food into three categories on the basis of its effects on the human mind. Sattvic, Rajasic, and Tamasic are different categories of food.
Sattvic food is the best and the most superior type of food. The medium type of food for worldly man is Rajasic food and the most inferior type of food is Tamasic one. Our ancient scriptures proclaim in one voice that the type of food determines the type of man. It is to repeat the oft-repeated maxim. “As the food, so the mind, as the mind, as the mind, so the man.”
Foods which promote logitivity, intelligence, health, happiness and delight and which are sweet, bland, nourishing and agreeable, are dear to the sattvic type of men. Sattvic food accordingly provides ideal nourishment, promotes vigor and vitality. Along with high physical endurance and logitivity, it imparts mental and spiritual balance to the consumer of this type of food. For these reasons, sattvic food generates pious and pure thoughts. Not only does the body gets its natural vigor for a full life of hundred years, but the mind of a sattvic person is capable of rising to great spiritual heights. Both the body and mind of a person feeding on sattvic food ward off senile decay and disease. Sattvic food is pure vegetarian.
Foods which are bitter sour, saline, excessively hot and cold, pungent, dry, burning, and giving rise to pain, grief and illness are dear to the Rajasic type of men. Rajasic food, however, combines both vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. We are given to fried, over-cooked, highly oiled and spiced foods. These foods are rich in food nutrients and contain concentrated food items including sweets, ghee, fried vegetables, butter, cheese, meat, eggs, fish etc. They are more suited for fighters, warriors etc, who need animal strength. Their use moreover should be restricted to a young age when human organs are strong enough to digest them. But ultimately, these foods lead to the weakening of the body and the mind and premature death.
Food which is half-cooked, insipid, putrid, stale and polluted and also impure is dear to the tamasic type of men. Tamasic food is lowest grade food. It is unwholesome, stale, unbalanced and decomposed and causes irritating poison in the blood. This type of food is harmful to the body as well as the mind.
A man chooses his food according to his taste and nature, those endowed with sattvic nature choose the sattvic food, those with Rajasic and Tamasic natures choose the Rajasic and Tamasic food respectively. conversely, the type of food liked by a person ultimately determines and forms his nature.
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After discussing all aspects and all types of food, it can easily be concluded that the following types of food, it can easily be concluded that the following types of food items can be included in the yogic diet, which not only helps the body to remain strong and active but lead one to high mental and spiritual attainments.
1. All nuts and fruits.
2. All kinds of vegetables and edible green leaves.
3. All of the kind of pulses.
4. Milk, curd, buttermilk.
5. Dates, honey, and jaggery.
6. Wheat, rice etc.
7. Sprouted pulses and cereals.
Many ancient scriptures highlight the importance of observing fasts on days and periods of religious importance. The Hindus, The Muslims, and the Christians, therefore, observe fasts on grounds of religion. Fasting is a method of self-purification. So, almost all religions of the world emphasize the importance of fasting as a means of individual purity. It is presumed that the control on the sense of taste is the first step towards self-discipline and self-realization. Hot blood, it is said, creates lust, bad temper, greed, jealousy, etc. in man.
Fasting has a cooling effect on the blood (not in the physical sense). That’s why, those who observe fasts are usually calm, quiet, balanced and religious minded. during the period of fasting, the mind loses much of its turbulence and submits to discipline. Meditation and concentration are much easier during fasting than when one’s belly is full.
Fasting is equally important as a curative and recuperative means. During the process of digestion, all digestive organs have to work for the digestion of the food taken. the glands have also to keep on secreting digestive juices to help in the process of digestion. in fasting, all the digestive organs i.e., the stomach, pancreas, liver and small and large intestine get much-needed rest. We all know the value of rest, which is the tonic for the exhausted and weary organs. just as after sleep and rest, we feel more strong, fresh and energetic, so the case with internal organs also. They also need rest as we do. Rest improves their working and lends them strength and vitality. And on their efficient working depend on over health.
In fasting, the blood in our body solely devotes itself to the task of destroying germs and other poisonous wastes in our body, because the work of digestion held in suspense. The body, therefore, gets more healing power during fasting than it normally possesses. The vital healing power within our body thereby becomes more active. Therefore fasting sometimes does wonders in curing chronic diseases, the cure of which includes all other means of treatment. Thousand of experiments performed by naturopaths all over the world confirm the belief that fasting has a curative effect. When all other methods of curing a disease have failed, fasting may be given a chance.
But long fasts are better under taken under the advice of an expert naturopath. One or two-day fast can be safely under taken without any expert medical guidance by dietician as well as house holders, and by the patients and all the healthy persons all alike.
There are no very hard and fast rules as for when to fast. Some people observe fast for a day once a month, others do not observe any particular system and undertake fast when their system needs cleansing. The following points may be useful for observing fast.
1. Do not eat any food during the day of fasting. Drink as much as clean water as you can, when you feel thirsty. Water cleans the entire system and washes away the impurities which might have accumulated in the system from time to time.
2. If in the beginning, you find it difficult to observe the complete fast for one full day, you can begin with a partial fast. Do not take anything during the day except water. In the evening, take fruit juice or fruits, or milk. That is to say, take no solid food except fruits.
3. Those who cannot observe even a partial fast may drink orange or some other juice thrice a day. Vegetable juice can also be taken in the absence of fruit juice.
4. It is essential to cleanse your bowels in the morning. It is better to take an anima of simple water, after the normal motion to cleanse the bowels thoroughly.
5. Fast should always be broken with a glass of fruit juice. In the absence of fruit juice, you can take fruits which are pulpy and easily digestible, e.g., orange, papaya, grapes, apple.
It is a bad practice to breakfast with a solid, hard or fried food like parantha, poori etc. In fact, it does more harm. It will be good to eat easily digestible food for two or three days after the day of fast.
6. One should take as much rest as one can during the fast. Hard physical labor should be avoided during the time of fast. Those whose nature of work is such that they have to do hard physical labor, they should observe only partial part. Those who can observe silence during the fast should do so to save energy.
7. Long fasts of longer than two days should be undertaken under the guidance and advice of an expert naturopath. It is however not essential to consult a doctor when one resorts to fasting to cure indigestion caused due to careless eating. In small ailments like headaches, stomach-aches, bad cold, one may safely go in for a fast.
8. Fasting increases our will power. We should exert our will power on the full on the day of fast and should control our minds wondering. The purification of body and mind achieved during fasting enables us to bring our mind to one-pointedness and fix it in meditation. It is easy to meditate on the day of fasting because fasting makes the mind quiet, placid and thus easy to control.
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