A Yoga Diet is an Essential
Aspect of Yoga Practice

The yoga diet, also referred to as the Sattvic diet, is based on choosing foods that are able to purify, energize, and refresh both the body and mind. 

According to Yoga Gurus, food contains prana, or life sustaining forces and energy. The value of each type of food is determined by the quality of prana it holds and the effect its consumption produces.

It is believed that there is a very strong connection between the body and the mind, and what you choose to put into your mouth will not only affect your physical health but will also have a great impact on your emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. 

The yoga diet stresses choosing foods that are able to increase vitality, optimize digestion, and provide physical strength while also calming the mind to maintain emotional balance.


Yoga Diet Plan

The key is to choose foods that will help maintain the mind-body equilibrium. So, how do you know which foods to eat and which ones to avoid? The principles of the yoga diet are based on three categories or gunas, and understanding these divisions will help you choose the best foods for optimal overall health.

Rajas

Rajas foods, or stimulant foods, are those things that make you feel physically or emotionally agitated, restless, and aggressive. They can contribute to mood fluctuations, stress, or feelings of discontentment, but can also excite passion or incite change.

Although the Rajasic effect is considered to be negative, there may be times when it is desirable so some people leave room for the occasional consumption of Rajas foods.

However, since these foods act as stimulants, they provide a lift to the body while neglecting the mind, which will eventually lead to poor health, so their use should be limited. This category includes such things as caffeinated beverages,  chocolate, spicy foods, salt, sports drinks, or high sugar foods.


Tamasic

Tamasic foods, or sedative foods, are those things that make you feel sluggish, heavy, lazy or unmotivated. They can also contribute to feelings of anger, depression, or apathy.  

These foods do nothing for your body or your mind. In fact, they are often considered to increase stress levels and can be detrimental to your physical health, leading to heart disease, diabetes, or overweight.

Foods that create the Tasmic effect are meat, fish, eggs, onions, garlic, mushrooms, reheated or stale food, fast food, and addictive substances such as cigarettes, drugs, or alcohol.


yoga diet sattvic foods

Sattva

Sattva, or balancing foods, contain the most prana and contribute to qualities such as love, peace, purity, calmness and clarity of mind, courage, energy, and strength.

The goal of any yoga diet should be to eat primarily sattva foods, which include clean, wholesome choices that will help increase these qualities in your life. Eating a sattva diet will keep both your body and mind healthy and calm, so you will feel refreshed and energized.


Sattvic Foods

  • Vegetables and Fruits: Since a basic principle of the yoga diet is avoiding any foods that cause harm to living creatures, the eating of meat is discouraged. Almost all vegetables and fruits are considered sattvic except for hot peppers, leeks, garlic, and onion as these are Rajas, or stimulating, foods. 
  • Gas causing foods such as mushrooms and white potatoes should also be avoided.  Raw foods contain the most prana, so it is also recommended that you drink freshly made fruit and vegetable juices for the benefits of live enzymes and maximum absorption. 

  • Nuts and Seeds: Raw or lightly roasted, unsalted nuts and seeds are a great source of protein. The best choices are almonds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sesame seeds, pine nuts, flax seeds, walnuts, and coconut. 

  • Oils: Only use very good quality, cold-pressed oils such as olive oil, sesame, oil, or flax oil. These should be eaten raw as they cannot sustain high temperatures. For cooking, choose coconut oil or other palm oils. 

  • Grains: Choose whole organic grains such as spelt, oatmeal, barley, rice, quinoa, or buckwheat. Sprouted grains are recommended, and products containing yeast should be avoided. Look for naturally leavened products, or make your own! 

  • Dairy: There is some disagreement among proponents of the yoga diet about the use of dairy products. Some gurus believe that all animal products should be avoided while other suggest that anything that is willingly given without causing harm (milk, eggs) may be consumed. 

    Dairy products must be fresh, organic, unpasteurized, and not homogenized. Yogurt and butter should be made fresh every day. Only clarified butter (ghee) may be aged, everything else should be consumed as soon as possible.  
yoga diet snack foods
  • Legumes: Legumes are often combined with whole grains to create a complete protein source. Since they can be difficult to digest, they should be soaked, peeled, sprouted, ground, or well-cooked before eating. Lentils, chick peas, split peas, bean sprouts, or black beans are among the delicious options available. 

  • Honey: While some people don't allow for any sweeteners, many believe that raw honey is a healthy, natural way to add a little sweetness to dishes and herbal teas.
     
  • Spices: The use of mild spices such as ginger, basil, cardamom, turmeric, parsley, and fennel is encouraged but choices such as black pepper, red pepper, or chilies should be avoided as these can create a stimulating effect. Salt may be added in small amounts, but only Himalayan or sea salts should be used.


Yoga Diet Guidelines

  • Avoid processed or prepared foods. All foods should be as fresh as possible
  • Avoid fried or fast foods
  • Avoid eating leftovers or reheated foods
  • Onions, garlic, or other stimulating spices should be used sparingly
  • Drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes should be avoided
  • Coffee should be limited
  • Eat seasonal and locally grown products as much as possible to ensure freshness and maximum nutrition.
  • Buy organic as much as possible. Foods with preservatives, pesticides, hormones, or chemicals can be detrimental to your body and have a negative effect on your emotional health.
  • Chew your food well to help aid digestion
  • Eat food raw as much as possible. Raw food contains the most prana and will help cleanse or purify both body and mind.
  • Drink warm water or milk. Very cold beverages should be avoided.
  • Consume moderate portions. The stomach should only ever be half full, with one-quarter used for water or other liquids and the final quarter left empty to leave room for proper digestion. Overeating is considered to be tamasic and will have a negative effect on the body.

 

Sample Sattvic Menu

Breakfast:

  • Hot, whole grain cereal  (oats, millet, quinoa, cream of wheat) with cooked fruit, cinnamon and ginger.
  • Herbal tea or warm milk 

  • OR 

  • Fresh yogurt and fruit
  • Sprouted Grain toast, buttered
  • Herbal tea or warm milk 

  • OR 

  • Fresh made fruit and vegetable juice 

  • Lunch:

  • Lettuce salad with fresh vegetables, nuts, seeds, and/or fresh cheese
  • Oil dressing
  • Herbal tea or warm milk 

  • OR
     
  • Sprouted grain bread, naturally leavened
  • Butter, hummus, or nut butters (almond, cashew)
  • Cut fresh vegetables or piece of fruit
  • Herbal tea or warm milk 

  • OR 

  • Glass of fresh made fruit and vegetable juice 
  • Dinner:

  • Lentil or bean salad
  • Cooked vegetables
  • Herbal tea or warm milk 

  • OR 

  • Kitchari (rice and mung beans)
  • Cooked vegetables or lettuce salad
  • Herbal tea or warm milk  

Yoga Diet

Can what you choose to eat really affect every area of your life? New research and science has shown that there is some truth to the old adage, “You are what you eat”.

It seems Hippocrates knew what he was talking about when he said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”, because centuries later, it is still obvious that food can influence the way you think, feel, and act. 



Other pages that might interest you:


I will continue to share ideas about diet and exercise that have helped me along the way. If you have any questions I can help you with, or if you have any ideas you want to share, feel free to contact me or visit our Q&A forum.




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