Yogic science recognizes three different qualities of food: sattva, rajas and tamas. Sattva means “pure essence ” , and represents the well balanced and meditative aspect; rajas is the energy which seeks to accomplish, achieve or create and tamas indicates inertia and decay.
Ayurveda and yoga both emphasis a sattvic – or yogic diet – for healthful and mindful eating and living, as well as a way of keeping our minds happy and at peace and our entire selves in harmony and balance. The sattvic diet was originally developed for the Yogi to develop a higher consciousness. But we can all benefit from eating in a way that cultivates a healthier and more mindful way of being – and it need not be an austerity, it can (and perhaps should) be a great joy!
Sattvic food, which includes fruit and vegetables is pure, wholesome, and fresh. Rajas food , such as onions, garlic and pungent spices, are stimulants. Tamasic substances such as alcohol, meats, junk foods are considered to be heavy and enervating.
Many activities in the modern world are fast and often mirrored in the food that we eat and the way we eat it. It is common knowledge that junk food and processed foods have a negative impact on the body. The age of convenience food is upon us with ready to eat microwave meals, packet and tinned foods.
When choosing what we eat, we need to think of how certain foods make us feel. There is a well known saying “we are what we eat. ” Basically this means that if our diets are made up of fast food, takeout, foods high in sugar, high in fat and drink too much. We can’t really be surprised if our body doesn’t look or feel it’s best. To sum it up; eat bad, look and feel bad.
If we choose a sattvic diet this will help the mind to remain alert and body well-nourished.
A sattvic diet is part of a yogis way of life is said to be pure, simple and light and helps to keep the mind clean. Sattvic diet recipes will include foods that do not strain the digestive system . They should not be chemically treated , have a low fat and protein content and should be relatively bland with a minimum amount of spices for flavoring. Because of these requirements the diet is vegetarian . Apart from these types of foods, a yogi will also be mindful of the amount of food eaten as well as the manner in which it is eaten.
Foods to Eat When Following a Yogic Diet
1. Fruits of all types, especially those that are naturally sweet
2. All vegetables, except onions and garlic
3. Whole grains, especially oats, wheat, and rice
4. Beans, tofu, mung, aduki
5. Plant-based oils, like sesame, sunflower, and olive oil
6. Nuts and seeds, yet not salted or overly roasted
7. Natural, raw sugar, maple, molasses
8. Herbal teas, water with lemon and/or lime
9. Sweet spices, like cinnamon, cardamom, mint, basil, turmeric, ginger, cumin, fennel
10. Food prepared with love, and gratitude given before consumption
The body, mind and spirit are intimately connected. How we feel in our physical body affects and determines , how well our mind functions, the clarity in our thoughts and state of our emotions. Unhealthy thoughts and emotions lead to unhealthy physical patterns, which can further lead to a sense of disease at the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels of our being. A sattvic diet affects the mental state and its positive impact filters into our physical body giving balance, health, happiness and peace.
Slavica Gokul is a certified Vinyasa, Hatha and Power yoga teacher through Total Yoga in Bangalore, India. She has been an aspiring yogi for more than 20 years. She dedicated herself to consistent practice 9 years ago and while residing in India from 2012-14 underwent teacher training.