Yogic diet?????? What is it. More than a what to eat list.
There are certain important aspects of the food in yoga. Bhagavad Gita, Kŗșņa says right kind, right amount of food is important but didn’t go deeply in to it. It is pretty obvious in the Indian culture but to those that are not from that culture it remains a mystery and alot of nonsense books written on the subject.
At the time of the Bhagavad Gita, the was more wisdom and people generally ate in a more disciplined manner and there was less excess food around. In modern life, less disciplined, so the topic of yogic diet is important to discuss.
Main considerations in Yogic Diet
- Basic Source of Energy is Sun
- Primary Source – sun
- First Secondary source – plants
- Secondary and tertiary sources – animals, birds etc.
- Food Sustains Food
- Concept of Consciousness
- Matter – plants – Animals – Human Being
- Anthropological concept
- Tilling of land is a development in civilization
- Take from Earth as minimum as necessary
- Guna concept – Sattva, Rajas, Tamas.
You can eat non-vegetarian, but if you ask me why I practice vegetarianism, my argument is not a moral one, it is not about taking life or not. That is not the focus of this post although it is a consideration in karma. Basic point of food is to take for energy. The only source of energy is the sun. the first source of storing facility of energy is leaves – that is the only direct source of the sun’s energy. Primary source is the sun, and the first secondary source of energy then are plants. Secondary and tertiary sources of energy are the animals that eat plants and the animals that eat THOSE animals. So to get the primary, biggest source of energy is through the simple cell structures of the plant. Complex cell structures are in animals, so to release the energy it’s a lot more difficult to convert that energy in an animal than a vegetable source. Cell structures are harder to digest and break down, and punishes the entire human system more and makes much more stress to the organs. The greener the vegetable, the easier the energy is to release. Fiber and structure are there and so is energy. Vegetarianism then is an easier way to access the energy source.
Food sustains food – I eat food, I am food for bacteria etc. who feed plants etc. We are nothing but a food cycle. The B’ahai understand this – they leave the dead for the birds to eat so that our bodies can enter the food cycle.
- Freedom is the main aspect of consciousness. Consciousness has the feeling and the freedom – these are the two aspects that we are trying to develop through yoga. Inanimate objects don’t have feeling, but a dog or a cat does. They have consciousness. When there is no consciousness there is no feeling and no freedom – anesthesia causes unconsciousness in the body and takes away the freedom to move (what does this say about drugs and other intoxificants?). If there is no life, there is no consciousness and no feeling. There is suffering with pain before death, and after death no feeling or suffering. But when we look at this whole thing, matter has least consciousness and least degree of feeling – solids are lowest level, then liquids which have a freedom of shape: they take the shape of the containers they are in. Then there is the freedom of gases which is the freedom of volume – an explosion of freedom compared to liquid: three dimensional freedom.
But liquids and gases don’t have property of self growth. Plants have that property – that is how we know it as LIFE. Does it grow? Then it has life. Property of self growth = life. But there is another important aspect which is that plants don’t have freedom of locomotion. Animals can move from place to place. It is heard that the butterflies travel all over the world over 8 generations. The fish move in the water – come towards the equator and to the polar regions. All of these have locomotion which indicates a higher degree of consciousness. The highest degree of manifested consciousness is human beings – they have organizational freedom. Birds build a nest, but that is all they can build. Human beings can build a nest and a beehive and a skyscraper. Animals do not have that freedom. The human has the highest manifestation of consciousness. That is why we respect that. So if human is to survive, go to life that supports the life – plant material. The reason why a yogi does not eat an animal is because he respects their consciousness.
The other thing is the feeling. Animal feeling of pain and suffering is much greater than that of the plants. The plants feel pain but not as much as animal. Plants do not change their body chemistry with being cut. A piece of a plant is the same as the main plant. Not so with animals. An ant when stopped will raise its body, attack you – its body chemistry has changed. The bigger the animal, the bigger the body chemistry that changes. The moment then you cut an animal and eat it, you are eating the chemicals of the animal. Those chemicals that make the animal do what it does, causes you to do the same. The vegetarian will generally be calmer than the meat eater.
A human eating an animal is just one meat digesting the other meat – if any little confusion happens in the process of digestion, the stomach eats itself. This is what causes autoimmune disorders like cancers. This is why meat eaters are developing more of these disorders.
- Anthropological concept – caveman ate like other animals: raw. One day it falls into fire and eats it and it tastes good. Development of humans concurrent with the development of this cooking. Man developed cooked meat by accident, and several thousands of years later, man developed agrarian revolution. This was important for vegetarians – after several thousands of years of development he has capacity to grow vegetarian food – wheat and cereals etc. So this huge development of humanity from meat eating to vegetarianism. Earlier we had no light, now we do. As far as other facilities are concerned we have so far gone ahead – why are we still attached to this old caveman requirements? Don’t be apologetic about being a vegetarian. The anthropological concept is very valid. The amount of protein that vegetables and grains give you is more than enough. Hitler, Newton, Da Vinci were all vegetarians.
- Minimum ecological effect – one person can live for a lifetime of an acre and a half. As a nonvegetarian you require 15 acres of land – 10 times more than a vegetarian. When 1.5 acres can satisfy me, why do I demand 15 from the earth? What have I done for the earth that rationalizes this kind of excess?
- This is one of the most important points….. Food is how the external holds on to us. The human body is eclipsed by hunger and thirst. The body holds you when you are hungry. Food gives you freedom from the body. That food which causes you to be attached to the body – alcohol, drugs etc. will cause you to slowly give up your freedom. The food which attaches you (this is the food you crave) with restlessness is Rajas; that which take you away from your awareness and tightens you is Tamas (sleeping it off, taking alcohol. Yes, there is no alcohol consumption is a yogic life). The practice of yoga is to maintain your awareness so those foods that take you away from your awareness are not good. Spicy food is rajasic food, because until it is digested and even after when your stomach and colon are burning, your body holds you and hijacks your awareness. Whatever doesn’t take away your awareness is ok. Awareness here is pure awareness, not mind awareness. Even sattvic food can be taken in too much quantity that you spend whole day digesting food, not sattvic indeed. How frequently, quantity, quality of the food, all are important.
Yupta Aahar – suitable proper food according to Kŗșņa in the Bhagavad Gita. Food belongs to hunger, not to greed or desire to eat.
|Food and Fasting – Fasting is a way to build the strength of the mind as well as other factors.|
If we do asana only for exercise, we focus on the material exercise and lose sight of the peace of mind aspect. So exercise first, and then use Yoga practices to calm the mind to prepare for meditation.