Garlic in a Yogi’s Diet?



When I took the class of Raja Yoga, I remember reading that garlic was not recommended, but I am having a hard time finding the why in the book. Why is not good to take garlic, does affect meditation? Is it something that I should be aware before taking it?

Thanks so much.

—Blanca Sheridan, USA


Dear Blanca,

Thanks for this interesting question. Garlic can be regarded for both it’s medicinal properties and it’s qualities from a yogic perspective.

On page 121-2 of The Art and Science of Raja Yoga, Swami Kriyananda explains that according to the teachings of yoga, it is recommended that the diet focus on harmonious (sattvic) rather than stimulating (rajasic) foods. This is so that the nervous system will be cool, relaxed and peaceful (sattvic) in order to facilitate one’s ability to live guided by one’s inner Self. Sattvic or elevating foods tend to make one’s consciousness more spiritual. When one consumes rajasic, heating and stimulating foods, it tends to activate and excite the nervous system, and this can make it more difficult to be spiritually focused.

Rajasic foods include meat, eggs, onions, and garlic. And traditionally, these foods are not recommended in a yogic diet. However, Swami notes that in the United States, Yogananda did feed the monastics eggs, onions and garlic. Swami offers the possibility that in the West perhaps some rajasic food is necessary to “keep abreast of the currents of consciousness swirling around us.”

Then on page 40, Swami shares a recipe for a hot beverage with chopped garlic and milk to be used to help induce sleep. So this is a medicinal use of garlic to overcome insomnia. And yes, it’s difficult to understand how a rajasic/stimulating food could help one to sleep while it could also interfere with the ability to meditate deeply. It’s another of life’s curious mysteries!

So to answer your question, yes, it is best to avoid garlic and other rajasic or stimulating foods before meditation, as they can be over-stimulating to the nervous system, making it more difficult to meditate.

Blessings to you,

Nayaswami Mangala