“And he knew that food was Brahman. From food all beings are born. By food they live and into food they return”. – Upanishad 3.2
Everything that we eat is food for our soul. Yogis believe that food is the creator of prana (life force) that sustains our bodies and brings us vitality and health. Therefore, the types of foods we choose to eat reflect the level of our conscious development. The discipline of yoga suggests a pure (ethical) vegetarian diet, which facilitates the development of sattva. Sattva is a quality of love, awareness, connection, and peace with all sentient beings. Yogis believe that food is our first interaction with the world around us, and if we do not eat with a sense of love, connection, and peace, all other facets of our lives are inclined to suffer.
The basis of sattva is the concept of ahimsa (non-harming). A sattvic diet avoids any foods that involve killing or harming of animals. Sattvic diets also encourage foods grown harmoniously with nature, and foods that are ripened and grown naturally.
In addition, the foods that we eat should be prepared with love and positive intention. In eating a yogic diet, we are increasing prana and a higher state of consciousness. Please take note of these suggested yogic foods, while avoiding foods that do not align with yogic principles. These suggestions are recommended for any level of yoga practitioner or individual seeking a healthy, spiritual path.
Foods to Eat When Following a Yogic Diet
1. Fruits of all types, especially those that are naturally sweet
2. All vegetables, except onions and garlic
3. Whole grains, especially oats, wheat, and rice
4. Beans, tofu, mung, aduki
5. Plant-based oils, like sesame, sunflower, and olive oil
6. Nuts and seeds, yet not salted or overly roasted
7. Natural, raw sugar, maple, molasses
8. Herbal teas, water with lemon and/or lime
9. Sweet spices, like cinnamon, cardamom, mint, basil, turmeric, ginger, cumin, fennel
10. Food prepared with love, and gratitude given before consumption
Foods to Avoid or Reduce When Following a Yogic Diet
1. Meat and fish of all types, including eggs
2. Processed and/or artificial foods, junk food, artificial sweeteners, soda
3. Animal fats, margarine
4. Fried foods
5. Canned foods, except naturally canned tomatoes and fruit
6. White flour, white sugar
7. Garlic, onions, spicy foods
8. Stale or overly cooked foods
9. Microwaved foods
10. Alcohol, tobacco, stimulants
11. Foods that are genetically engineered
12. Foods that are eaten in a rush or in a disturbed environment
A yogic diet can improve your body, mind, and spirit. For maximum benefit, combine these dietary suggestions with asana (physical postures), pranayama (breathing techniques), and meditation.