What is the connection between yoga and nutrition? Should yoga practitioners opt for a plant-based diet (vegan or vegetarian)?
Yoga teaches us that our body is a temple to be loved and respected, what we ingest is therefore of central importance.
In addition, yoga is not only made of physical activity and meditation, but also has its ethical precepts (Yama and Niyama). In addition, Ayurveda, the ancient Indian medicine has many indications about the healthy diet for the yogi, also provides fasting (Ekadashi) and indicates which foods are healthy and which less so.
Putting all these aspects together it is possible to get an idea of what can be a yogic diet.
The practice of asanas is not yoga, but only one of its eight components. In fact, yoga consists of the following parts:
Yama: The external ethical precepts (addressed to society)
Niyama: The personal ethical precepts (addressed to oneself)
Asana: The postures (the most known part)
Pratyahara: The withdrawal of the senses
Samadhi: Union with the Divine
Yama is articulated in 5 ethical values.
Asteya not stealing
Brahmacharya sexual restraint
Aparigraha not greed
The first is Ahimsa, physical or mental non-violence towards humans and animals.
This principle of non-violence leads us to exclude those foods that cause suffering in order to be obtained. The principle of non-violence, however, must be taken into consideration not only in the act of killing, but also in the measure of exploitation of workers and animals. For example, it is questionable whether the production of milk and eggs is non-violent.
The great master Yogananda, probably the best known yoga face in the world, argued that the killed animal transmits to its flesh the vibrations of fear, hatred that it feels. So all the emotions of suffering, pain, misery that the animal feels are passed to the food and then to those who eat them.
These negative emotions go to influence the mind of the person consuming them. Therefore foods of animal origin should be avoided not only because it is ethically wrong, but also because the pain and suffering of that animal is transmitted to the food and from the food to those who eat it.
FOOD IN AYURVEDA
According to ayurveda food can be divided into three categories or qualities called gunas. Food depending on the refining, method of processing, cooking and environment can change category, but in general the distinction is as follows
- Tamasic food: Heavy food, harmful to body and mind, difficult to digest. This category includes: meat and meat products, fish and seafood, eggs, mushrooms, fried foods, alcohol, garlic, onion, vinegar, cheeses. aged, sugars, sweets, refined foods. These foods are not recommended
- Rajastic foods: Foods that act on a psychic, exciting and stimulating level. This category includes coffee, tea, ginseng, barley, unrefined sugars, chocolate. These foods are to be used in moderation.
- Sattvic foods: Foods that are good for the body and mind, easily digested, and do not overheat. Included in this category are: whole grains, vegetables, fruits, fresh milk and cheese, vegetable milk, oil seeds, olive oil, legumes.
THE SUSTAINABLE ISSUE
The choice to lean towards a vegetable diet is not only an ethical issue, but also a sustainable one. Meat is the most polluting food in the world, it involves deforestation, exploitation of water resources and taking food away from human beings themselves. In a meat-starved world, we are able to feed 60 billion heads of cattle while millions of people still suffer from hunger. The plant-based diet to be sustainable must be made by consuming seasonal and mainly local products.
If you decide to opt for a 100% plant-based diet, plan this step by talking to your doctor or a nutritionist. There are precautions to be taken, for example those who have a vegan diet must take vitamin B12 supplements.
THE SPIRITUAL PATH OF A YOGI
Yoga is not a sport it is a complete discipline and this difference lies in the fact that it allows one to embark on a personal path of awareness, understanding, empathy and spirituality.
These qualities will allow the yogi who wishes to go beyond the physical benefit of the asanas to find his or her way to harmoniously live the experience of eating as an integral part of that sacred temple that is one's body-mind-soul.
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