The practice of yoga seeks to harmonize the body, mind, and emotions so we can establish ourselves in a transcendental state of consciousness. Because our physical body is at the gross, anatomical level, the process of transcendence begins with the body. If the body is not stable, balanced, and healthy, it is very difficult for the mind and emotions to follow suit. Hence, the body needs to be in the right state or condition for us to advance on our path of yoga or inner journey.
It’s therefore no surprise that eating is one of the most important acts for our yoga practice; nourishing the body is a foundation for balancing the mind and emotions.
Following a yogic diet will make it much easier to achieve a balanced, calm mind. But what does it mean to nourish your body rightly? Just how do you eat like a yogi?
For a Yogic Diet, the first thing to remember is that food should not create excitement; it should not be intoxicating (yes, that includes alcohol!), and it should not be heavy. You should not feel heaviness or drowsiness after your meals. If you feel heaviness or drowsiness, then you have not eaten rightly. Lastly, food should be non-violent, so vegetarianism is a must in a yogi’s diet.
Our body is made of chemical elements. Food is nothing but the combination of chemicals (i.e. proteins, vitamins, minerals, fats, carbohydrates, and water). Each and every food has its own effect on the chemicals of the body. If a person takes too much of one type of chemical, the whole body will become intoxicated. However healthy the food may be, the chemistry of the intoxication will affect your body, which will create an imbalance in your mind. Therefore, food should be taken in the right quantities, enough to nourish, but not so much to become an intoxicant.
It is recommended to eat at the same time every day. The body has cycles, and functions best when these cycles are regular and steady. Keep in mind that food takes about 12 hours to digest. Avoiding food two hours before exercise and before sleep will give proper time for digestion, better quality of sleep, and sustained energy throughout the day.
But nutrition is not the only consideration yogis have when it comes to their diet. In fact, yogis give equal importance—if not more importance to their attitude towards food.
Many physicians throughout the world would agree that most of our diseases are due to a wrong diet. However, often times it is not the diet that’s wrong—it’s the attitude towards our diet that creates the problem. Rather than nourishing us and keeping us energized and healthy, our food is creating sickness due to our attitude.