What are the foods prescribed to embark upon path of yoga??
—vijay balaji, India
Dear Vijay Balaji,
It is taught that for the yogic path “food is important, but not essential.” It is important because it influences our consciousness (each food item has a specific influence on our consciousness), our life, health, and our meditations. But it is not essential because food should’t become a religion. Yogananda quotes the saint Mirabhai: “If by eating roots and fruits He could be known, gladly would I choose the form of a goat…” He recommended good yogic diet but then sometimes gave his disciples some money for ice-cream.
Secondly, correct yogic nutrition is a personal matter, as we have different body constitutions, and therefore different needs. Yogananda writes in his Autobiography of a Yogi: “Sri Yukteswar’s advice to students was to follow any simple diet which proved suited to one’s constitution.” You have to try and learn what works for your body.
Here are however some general yogic guidelines:
– Keep your diet simple. This doesn’t mean tasteless: good taste helps the digestion.
– Yogis talk about eating sattwic (pure) food in a sattwic (calm, clean) environment, prepared by a sattwic cook. “Sattwic” means elevating, pure; the main sattwic foods are vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts, milk, dry fruit, whole wheat grains, rice.
– In general, a vegetarian diet is advised. If you are not yet a vegetarian, work towards it. Fish and fowl are the lightest meats which can serve during a transition period.
– Alcohol is a definite “anti-meditator.” It muddles the awareness, lowers our consciousness and should be avoided.
Here are some fun quotes from Yogananda concerning diet:
Enjoy Raw Foods
“Do not eat vitamin-killed boiled dinners. Vegetables have been ripened and cooked in Nature’s kitchen with the cosmic-fire-ultra-violet rays. Why do you want to cook them again? Scientific experiments show beyond question that cooking destroys the vitamins.”
“Vitamins are the brains of the food you eat. They direct the digestion and absorption of food while the food builds the different tissues. No matter what you eat, never forget to include vitamins in your menu.”
Green is Outstanding
“Green is the most outstanding pigment on Mother Nature’s palette of exterior decorating. In the science of food values, that coloring is known as chlorophyll, the green substance of plant life which, when taken into the body, becomes the hemoglobin of the blood.”
“In order to keep the body in an alkaline condition, at least eighty per cent of our diet should be chosen from the foods which have an alkaline reaction.” (you can find in the internet which foods have this reaction).
“Great benefit may be obtained by taking health cocktails made of fresh vegetable juices… Carrot juice, celery juice, radish juice, and cucumber juice are some of those most commonly used. Have a health cocktail at least once a day.”
“The chief abuse of the body lies in overloading it with unnecessary food. ”
“…sugar should be the natural brown quality which is hardly recognizable as to color, taste, and nourishing properties when compared with the anaemic white sugar used in the average home…”
Enjoy your yogic meals!
By the way, Yogananda loved good food and so does Swami Kriyananda, and most of us too.
In divine friendship, jayadev