This International Yoga Day, if you are all excited to join the bandwagon and take up the age-old practice, remember that it doesn't stop just there. Yoga is all about cleansing and balancing bodily processes from within and strengthening it from the outside. As such, eating healthy and mindfully is as important as perfecting that asana. Which is why, maintaining a yogic diet not only helps in developing a mindful approach towards food, but also helps support and nurture your yoga practice.
To know more about what comprises a yogic diet, we reached out to Radhika Iyer Talati, a yogini, mountaineer, philanthropist and founder of Raa Foundation and Anahata Organics, an organic and sustainable lifestyle brand that focuses on wellness-based beauty and food.
What is a yogic diet?
Simply put, a yogic diet is an ancient regimen that promotes mindful eating and encourages being completely aware of all that one ingests by tuning in to the needs of the body. Elaborating on it and explaining how it is different from a vegan diet (which is what people often confuse it with), Talati explains, "While a yogic diet is based on the principles of yoga that primarily focuses on sattva or purity, ahimsa or nonviolence and upayogita or symbiotic living, a vegan diet consists of only eating plants, vegetables, legumes, pulses, grains, nuts and fruits."
Yoga does not characterise food as proteins, carbohydrates or fats. Instead, it classifies them according to the effect they have on the body and mind, into three types—sattva, rajas and tamas. Each of these have an incredible effect on our physical and mental well-being.
Typically, a sattvic diet entails wholesome, light and healthy food, which is moderate in taste and fresh and seasonal in nature. In other words, food that purifies the body and calms the mind. It consists of pure and unprocessed items that are less potent and rich in pranic energy. A sattvic diet also prescribes freshly cooked food, which is to be consumed within three to four hours of being prepared.
A rajasic diet on the other hand, can cause hyperactivity, restlessness, anger, irritability, and laziness. Foods that fall under this category increase the level of toxins in the blood leading to disrupted digestion and fat deposition.
Tamasic foods are those which dull the mind and body bringing inertia, confusion and disorientation. All kinds of stale or reheated, excessively oily or heavy and artificial or preservative-filled foods fall under this category. Tamasic food can also increase aggressiveness, anger, laziness and depression, if consumed regularly.
How does a yogic diet help?
"A good yogic diet will help you channel your energies in the right direction and help you be more mindful," points out Talati. It can also help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, since it does not encourage meat consumption. The sedentary lifestyles most people are living today, alongside the processed and refined foods that they eat, together pose a huge threat to our health by putting us at the risk of conditions like, increased blood pressure, thyroid, obesity and diabetes. Following a sattvic diet, as such, is more likely to help towards becoming more fit and healthy.
Eat this, scrap that
It is pretty clear now that if you set yourself up on a yogic diet, then it's a complete no-no when it comes to canned foods, meat or preserved foods. You must include fresh fruits and vegetable juices to your daily routine along with roasted seeds and nuts, wholesome grains, millets and legumes. Stay away from refined oils or dalda, white sugar and white flour.
Why is a yogic diet important today?
"A yogic diet will fully focus on the internal nourishment of the body enabling one to remain physically, mentally as well as emotionally fit. It encourages the concept of mit-aahar or moderate eating, which requires eating as per one's doshas," Talati explains.
She further adds that it is important to understand that we come from a civilisation of meditators and philosophers who understood the interspersed connection between ecology and us. Hence, texts like the Vedas and Upanishads spoke about ways and means to lead a peaceful and symbiotic existence by keeping food as a central entity that brought about this balance. This is probably one of the chief reasons why a yogic diet is of importance today. With the world witnessing large-scale disasters, diseases and pandemics, it is time to understand that we need to connect the dots that encourage the entire universe to bloom together.
This article provides general information and discussions about health, nutrition and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.
Tarvene is a chocolate and chai fiend who is constantly on the hunt for cute cafes. You can catch her baking some Biscoff cheesecakes or binge-watching Netflix shows. She likes filling up her free time painting, listening to music or going on long drives.