Yogic Diet

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I know of yoga teachers and practitioners who praise the values of raw, vegan and veggie diets. I also know some, who’ll eat meat until the cows come home. I’m not here to tell anyone what the yogi diet should be because I don’t think diet is an important deciding factor on how good a yogi you are.

Diets aren’t about what others think, they’re about what you feel. Do what makes your own body feel the best, not what someone else says will make you feel well.  Trust your nose, if certain foods smell bad to you, its your bodies way of telling you it doesn’t want them. Food is very personal. I will never meet someone and make judgments based on what diet they follow.

Having said that, on my teacher-training course we were made to follow the ancient diet of yogis: the Sattvic diet.As if your mind hasn’t been over-saturated by countless diets already, I thought I’d share with you the Sattvic diet. Instead of taking into account vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, the Sattvic diet is led by the energy of food and how it affects us mentally and physically. Sounds pretty different right? It was very interesting how much we, as a group of 8, focused on the food. It bonded us, it stressed us out, and it made our day (above the picture of the pizza I devoured when we ran away in to the small local town – though ironically pizza is kind of Sattvic).

What is a Sattvic diet? I hear you ask. It’s food, which is said to promote clarity of mind and body. This includes; most vegetables, fruit, sprouted whole grains, non-pasteurized dairy products, seeds, nuts and natural sweeteners (honey etc). A good way to get a clearer picture of what is Sattvic are the two types of food you’re not allowed to eat.

Rajasic food, which is said to be bad for your mind, causes restlessness of mind which would seem counter intuitive to the plight of the yogi. Rajasic foods include; coffee, tea, green tea, chocolate, spices, chilli, alcohol, drugs and tobacco. Green tea? Chocolate? TEA? Yes you can imagine your responses were shared by all 8 of us.

The 2nd food, Tamasic, is supposed to be the worst type of food as it causes lethargy of your mind and body. Tamasic food includes; meat, fish, eggs, onion and garlic. The garlic was something a lot of people found hard in the group and to this day still question why it would be bad for you as its a natural antibiotic along with the countless benefits of garlic you can read about here. But I guess thats the point is that its about an overall energy effect rather than the vitamins and minerals contained so read about why it may be bad here.

For me it was a challenge. I’ve been a vegan, a vegetarian, and I’ve embraced many diets along the way, but I cant say I’ve ever been told, you know, you cant eat onion bro. I’m aware that food shouldn’t be such a heart ache for people, as long as you have it be thankful and I occasionally fast, (which I’ve written about here), to remind myself of that. But I never had such a ‘strange’ diet put before me. It made me intrigued as to what the results would be. My stomach lost it for a while there. My mind was pretty clear; we were practicing so much meditation I think it may of had something to do with it. My body was tired as anything from the schedule but I did manage to get through it without falling back on caffeine. I grew to love iceberg lettuce. Did you know if you eat something for seven days straight your taste buds grow to like it?

I’m a lover of food, healthy eating and making being healthy interesting. I’m not on a Sattvic diet anymore, but it taught me even more so to be grateful for what’s in front of me. It also reinforced what I already felt that caffeine disturbs your mind, tofu is not something I want to eat instead of vegetables and meat takes a damn long time to be processed by your body.

Have you ever heard/been on the Sattvic diet? What’s your current go-to health craze?

Namaste,

Helen – WAP

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2 thoughts on “Yogic Diet

  1. Megan says:

    Heyhey Helen!
    Love reading your blog. Just did a teacher training as well and food was a topic that we weren’t really talking about which I found a bit strange considering, like you’ve said, it’s a big part of the yoga community… A friend doing her teacher training at the moment actually has a group that made the decision not to bring up diet whatsoever as many people who come to yoga have battled with eating related issues in the past and it might become a trigger to have restrictions or limits in their diet. What we DID have was a couple guest teachers mention that you actually CAN’T do certain poses as long as you are indulging in sugar and meat. He said your body becomes inflamed and this prevents you from getting deeper into, say, lotus pose. He was watching us practice and was like.. if you can’t do this pose it’s probably cause you still eat sugar…. Thought this was interesting. It’s made me wonder if I should modify my diet to compare the way my body feels… I want to know more about the specifics to how certain foods affect our openness… but in terms of yogis HAVING to eat a certain way.. I agree with you, eat what your body tells you.
    xoxo Megan (from SANFRAN!)

    • Warrior At Peace says:

      Megannnn!! (I still say that in a french accent!) Hello lovely girl! I love that you’ve just done a yoga teacher training, thank you for reaching out!

      Thats so interesting that they decided not to talk about it at all. I have battled with eating problems in the past like so many girls these days, so I definitely had similar worries with having such a strict diet being enforced on me. But the Sattvic diet really wasn’t restrictive in some of the ways other diets can be (like we were still allowed natural sugars and sugar in the form of carbohydrates). So, I can’t say that I know of yogis saying not to eat sugar. Myself I’m very aware of the negative affects of sugar on the body in the form of inflammation, I’d not thought of that in regard to having an affect on yoga poses though actually!

      On our course we were taught more about foods having an affect on your body in the form of either making you lethargic or making your mind unclear. So, meat makes you especially lethargic (it takes days to digest) and also goes against the principle of non-harming (ahimsa) which is part of Yama the first limb of ashtanga yoga. I think that the more you meditate and do yoga your inclination for meat decreases, even within our group others who were big meat eaters seemed to change there opinion over the time.

      I don’t think that diet has to be tied up in being a yogi like we’ve both said but at the same time when your doing something to make your body and mind be at its most healthful, food which your putting in to your body inevitably starts playing on your mind. I want to write loads more I’m going to message you now! Love girlll, Namasteeeee, Helen xx

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