“We are constantly bombarded with stimuli, and these make up the diet of our lifestyle.  From the food we eat, the air we breathe, the things we see, feel, hear and touch, our environment is formed and this in turn profoundly influences and shapes our internal environment.  We are what we eat literally, for the mind is constructed out of the subtlest parts of our diet and the body from the rest.  To achieve the goal of life, to find contentment and perfection requires a peaceful and focused mind.  To control the mind is difficult since it is in reality very much under the control of our physical body.  It is therefore suggested that we first discipline and control the physical body and the mind bay be easily controlled.  Diet plays an important part in this process.”

The ‘proper’ yoga diet is traditionally a lacto-vegetarian one, consisting of grains, pulses, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and dairy products.  As well as being simple, natural and wholesome, this diet takes into account the subtle effect of food has on the mind and the prana.

The Three Gunas

In yoga philosophy, the mind is formed from the subtlest portion or essence of food.  If the food taken is pure, the mind has the proper building materials for the development of a strong and subtle intellect and a good memory.  A yogic diet is one that brings inner peace to the body and mind and encourages spiritual progress.

All the nature, including our diet, is categorised into three qualities, or gunas: sattva (pure), rajas (over-stimulating) and tamas (putrefied).  A person’s mental make-up may be judged from the type of food he/she prefers to eat.  Yogis believe not only that ‘you are what you eat’ but also that you eat those foods which reflect your own level of mental and spiritual purity.  As your life changes in a positive way, you will also see your food preferences improving.

The yogic diet is based on sattvic foods.

Sattvic Foods

The foods which increase life, purity, strength, health, joy and cheerfulness, which are savoury and oleaginous, substantial and agreeable, are dear to the sattvic people.

Foods should be eaten in as natural a state as possible n either raw, steamed or lightly cooked.  Grains such as corn, barley, wheat, unpolished rice, oats, millet and quinoa.  These are good for the teeth and jaws, and they stimulate the processes of digestion and elimination.    Grains supply the necessary carbohydrates, the main source of energy for the body, and they also contain about half the amino acids that are needed to form protein.

Protein foods such as pulses, nuts and seeds.  Proteins are the ‘building blocks’ of the body.  The key to a healthy vegetarian diet is to eat a good mixture of foods to ensure that it includes all the amino acids essential for making proteins.

Fruits, both fresh and dried, as well as pure fruit juices.  Among the many different foods, fruits have foremost in importance in the yoga diet.  The curative effects of fresh,juicy fruits are astonishing.  They fill the body with vitalising, life giving minerals, vitamins and fibre.  They contain alkaline matter that helps to keep the blood pure.  Vegetables.  These are important in the diet because they contain a host of minerals, vitamins and fibre.  The diet should include seeded vegetables (such as cucumbers and squashes), all leafy vegetables, and roots or tubers.

Dairy products such as milk, butter, cheese and yoghurt.  We recommend to take in moderation.  They tend to intensify the production of mucus, which interferes with the natural flow of breath.

Rajasic Foods

Foods that are bitter, sour, saline, excessively hot, pungent, dry and burning, are liked by the rajasic and are productive of pain, grief and disease.

The yoga diet avoids rajasic foods because they overstimulate the body and mind.  The excite the passions and boisterous tendencies, cause physical and mental stress, bring a restless state of mind and destroy the mind-body balance that is essential to happiness.  Onions, garlic, radishes, coffee, tea, tobacco, and stimulants of all kinds fall into this category, as do heavily spiced and salted, chemical-riddled, convenience foods and snacks.

Strong spices and condiments over-stimulate the mind as well as irritate the mucous membrane of the intestines.

Tamasic Foods

That food which is stale, tasteless, putrid, rotten and impure refuse, is the food liked by the tamasic.  Tamasic food makes a person dull, inert, and lazy; it robs individuals of high ideal, purpose and motivation.  In addition it accentuates the tendency to suffer from chronic ailments and depression, and fills the mind with darkness, anger and impure thoughts. Abandoning tamasic food needs to be among the first positive lifestyle changes you make.  Meat, fish, all intoxicants (alcoholic beverages marijuana, opium, etc.) are tamasic in nature.

Tamasic foods include all foods that are stale, decomposed, unclean, as well as overripe and unripe fruits.  Also included are foods that have been fermented, burned, fried, barbecued or reheated many times; as well as stale products and those containing preservatives e.g. canned, processed and many pre-prepared foods.

Mushrooms as they grown in darkness; vinegar, as it is a product of fermentation and retards digestion, Deep-fried foods are indigestible and are included in this category.