There is a big link between yoga and food. A clean diet is very important to the overall health of the body, and while you don’t need to be a strict vegan in order to feel the benefits of yogic practice, changing your diet to one that includes healthier foods is very beneficial. Many yoga students struggle with flexibility for months and then realize a quantum leap in their mental focus and physical agility when they change their diets. Here are five ways to live a yogic lifestyle and eat better too:
Yogic Diet Tip#1: Reducing Red Meat
- Reduce the consumption of red meat first and all other meats second. In the yogic view, the human body was not meant to digest meat. Out intestines are over 18 feet long, and once meat leaves the gut and enters the large intestine to be digested it often moves through this length very slowly. This causes food to rot and putrify in the gut and cause all kinds of diseases. Conversely, animals that are made to dine on flesh have very short intestines which means the food (i.e., meat) goes down the hatch and quickly comes out the other end so that it doesn’t cause disease. The less meat you eat, the better for your overall health.
Yogic Diet Tip#2: H20 Wise
- Drink lots of clean water. The Dalai Lama’s favorite drink is a glass of warm water. It is the simplest and most life-giving substance on earth. It keeps the body alkaline and reduces the appetite. Water helps to energize the cells and helps them to get rid of cellular waste. You can drink more water to maintain higher brain functioning and an ideal body weight. It is simple, but important practice for yogis.
Yogic Diet Tip#3: Feeling Fresh
- Yoga students eat more fresh, organic fruits and vegetables. The phytonutrients available in a plant-based diet are so important for maintaining physical health, but they also support a ‘cleaner’ mind. Organic fruits and vegetables are better, not only for the planet, but because they don’t contain the poisons of big-pharma and big-agriculture that use cancer-inducing agents in their pesticides. Eating more organic greens can also help to decalcify the pineal gland, an important endocrine gland in the brain said to be responsible for enlightenment.
- Reduce your consumption of heavy, fried and processed foods. Processed foods, those which come in commercial packaging, are often the least nutritious type of ‘food’ you can consume. The FDA does not even require known cancer-causing agents that many companies use to increase flavor or keep foods from spoiling on grocery store shelves to be labeled. When you eat something in a package, you aren’t ever sure what is really in it, so instead, try to consume the least processed foods you can to maintain better health and live a more yogic lifestyle. If you eat ‘heavy’ food, you will feel ‘heavy’ instead of light and yoga aims to en-light-en you.
Yogic Diet Tip#4: Eating for Your Dosha
- Eat for your Dosha. A Dosha is an Ayurvedic term used to help determine the best type of food for a specific body type: Vata, Pitta or Kapha. While Vata’s have a delicate digestive system, Pitta people have strong and intense digestion. There are different types of foods and herbs that can help to balance your dosha and support optimum health. Herbs like cloves, cinnamon and certain peppers can aid Kapha-types who have slower digestion.
- Eat in a quiet, calm atmosphere. If you eat on the run or eat with a lot of noise and distraction around you, it can affect how your body absorbs food. People who eat in a slow, comfortable, peaceful environment tend to eat less and feel full faster. If at all possible make your meal time a peaceful time.
- Eat smaller portions. The average American portion size at a mid-range dining establishment is ridiculously huge when you consider that your stomach was only meant to digest food that is about as large as your balled-up fist at any one sitting.
- Unless you live in stifling heat, try not to consume ice-cold beverages or foods. It takes more energy for your body to warm these foods to body-temperature.
- Eat to keep the gunas in check – this is a Sanskrit term meaning ‘quality’ and whichever ‘guna’ is most prominent is the type of personality traits we will most struggle with to keep our bodies and minds in equilibrium. The three gunas are: Sattva, Rajas and Tamas or Purity, Change or Passion and Darkness or Inertia. If you have too much of any one of these, then the body is prone to disease. When the gunas are in balance, you can expect to enjoy optimum health. As a rull, try to eat as many Sattvic foods as possible – clean foods that lead to a pure heart and pure body.
These and other great tips for eating a yogic diet and treating food as a yogi would are found at YogaMeditationHome.com, or you can utilize these resources about yoga and food: