For a lot of people, it’s difficult to separate the practice of yoga from other portions of their lives, including a good diet. For these people, getting the full benefits of the not only involves the exercises and stress-relieving meditations of yoga, but also developing a nutrition plan that follows some of the same principles.
Combining yoga and nutrition is not a new development. Yoga instructors have been touting the benefits of proper nutrition for years. But it has become part of a new awareness recently thank to scientific studies that back up the claims regarding diet that yogis have been espousing for centuries, namely that nutrition is a big part of the quest for balance between the mind, body and spirit.
As we’ve said, combining yoga and nutrition is not a new development. There is, in fact, an entire discipline of yoga called Anna Yoga that concerns food and its influence on health and fitness. But while the information concerning healthy eating may not be the same among the various kinds of yoga, some of the belief are relatively the same: consume modest, reasonable portions of food that is high in nutrients and low in toxins. These include lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. This is a diet that yoga practitioners have been subsisting on for centuries but the doctors of today have just recently began to suggest.
Among yoga practioners, food is divided into three categories: Rajasil, Tamsik and Satvik. Rajaski, which translates to “food of the king” is heavily processed or has a lot of seasonings. Candy, processed foods and beverages and alcohol are classified as Rajasik foods. Tamsik foods are elaborately prepared foods that are high in sodium and usually highly spiced. Lastly, Satvik foods are consumed in as close to their original state as possible – fresh vegetables and fresh fruit that, if they are cooked, are done so with only a light coating of seasoning to keep most or all of their nutritional value. Satvik food is considered the basis of an ideal diet by yoga practitioners.
Because of the way they are prepared, Satvik foods have exceptional nutritional value and are easily digested. Combined with the body benefits of yoga, a diet that adheres to the Satvik foods can help one develop and promotes a well-conditioned and healthy body.
Within the Satvik plan are basic nutritional theories that are useful even if one is not a regular practitioner of yoga.
One of the main concepts of nutrition and yoga is that the food used be as fresh as possible. Fresh fruits and vegetables and the enzymes they contain are favorable over frozen or canned foods, where the canning process has taken out many of the vitamins and minerals of the food. Also, some yoga practitioners recommend eating many of the fruits and vegetables you consume raw to let your body get the fully effect of the nutritional value. Meanwhile, green vegetables are particularly special to yoga experts, who consider cabbage, lettuce, broccoli and spinach to have the high amount of nutrients and “life force”. Fruit is also considered highly nutritious and full of the “life force”. Because of the natural sugars in fruit, they can supply a quick but nutritious and sustained source of energy without the toxins.
While many involved in yoga (and even others who are not) do not consume meat, fish or poultry, there are many who participate in yoga who do eat these foods. However, yoga instructors recommend moderation in taking in meat as it may contain toxins such as lactic acid, fat, cholesterol and other chemicals that can slow the growth of muscles gained from the practice of yoga.
Finally, even the manner in which food is consumed is important to those who have yoga as a major part of their life. Yoga experts recommend that you eat your meals slowly to give your body time to absorb all of the benefits and nutrients contained within. And the exercises in the practice of yoga, many yoga experts believe, actually helps the body absorb more of the nutrients from the food you consume.