Nutrition – 1st of 5 Pillars of Yoga

As most ancient cultures (and often common sense) the Yoga tradition recommends a clean, non-refined plant-based diet to stay healthy. Yogis know that animal sourced food is seen as a “low-value” food that drains us of energy and health. It makes us sluggish, and in the long run makes us ill. Modern science has vastly proven the ancient Yogic recommendations right. Plants are high value Sun energy, and if produced in a fertile and clean soil enhance your energy. Food should be fresh, pure and not over-cooked. Some traditions go a step further and don’t eat roots or kill plants and cooperate with them by replanting seeds and never picking unripe fruit.

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There is a cycle in nature known as the “food cycle” or “food chain.” The Sun is the source of energy for all life on our planet; it nourishes the plants (the top of the food chain) which are then eaten by animals (herbivores), which are then eaten by other animals (carnivores). The food at the top of the food chain, being directly nourished by the Sun, has the greatest life promoting properties. The food value of animal flesh is termed as “second-hand” source of nutrition, and is inferior in nature. All plant-foods such as fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, beans, grains etc, have different proportions of the essential nutrients. As sources of protein they are the best and easiest one to be assimilated by the human body. However, second-hand sources like animal-food are more difficult to metabolise, have less nutritional value, and use huge amounts of resources to produce.

Besides being responsible for building our physical body, the foods we eat profoundly affect our mind. For maximum body-mind efficiency and complete spiritual awareness, it is an integral part of the Yogic lifestyle. A huge amount of free vegan recipes can be found on the internet today, but some of my favourites are still Vegan Richa as I love Indian food and overall easy and healthy recipes. For more elaborate recipes visit our previous chef Bettina’s food blog.

The yogic diet is a vegan healthy (clean and natural) diet. Preferably simple without elaborate sauces or too many mixes or preparations. It should be picked as late as possible, and be easily digested (individual needs) and this promotes health and gives you longterm energy. Dairy and egg are only accepted if you can’t cook beans, grains, and rice (yes, some think they can’t and end up eating crap food). Simple meals aid the digestion and assimilation of foods, so make the every day meal simple; mixing grains, rice and beans for the protein, lightly steam the hardest vegetables and keep the leaves and softer vegetables fresh. For more nutritional advice and our cookbook:

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Nutritional requirements fall under five categories: protein, carbohydrates, fats, and Micronutrients such as minerals and vitamins. Some knowledge of these groups is good in order to balance the diet. Eating foods first-hand from nature, grown in fertile soil (preferably organic, free from chemicals and pesticides, will help ensure a better supply of these nutritional needs. Processing, refining and overcooking food destroys much of the nutritional value.

Many people worry about whether they are getting enough protein, but neglect other factors. The quality of the protein is more important than the quantity alone. Beans/legumes, nuts and seeds provide the vegan with an adequate supply of protein alone. The so-called high protein value of meat has been scientifically disproved many times and many Yogis are a living proof of it. I’m one of them.

The way to eat is also important, and much can be said here too. A Yoga motto is “do what you do to live, not live to do it.” This applies to to eating, working or anything else that might drain our energy – work, TV, games, shopping, etc. It is best if we understand that the purpose of eating is to supply our being with the energy called Prana. So the greatest nutritional plan for the Yoga student is the simple diet of natural fresh foods eaten in silence and stillness to taste and feel

After a certain amount of time of Yoga practice, the Yogic usually becomes even more selective than this. We become aware of how food is produced and it’s environmental implications and the subtle effects that food has on his/her mind/body/energy. We therefore avoid foods which are overly stimulating, preferring those which render the mind calm and the intellect sharp so that we can in fact be connected to our mass, ie our bodies. One who seriously takes to the path of Yoga would avoid exciting foods altering the body-mind connection, such as ingesting spicy food, coffee, tea (except herbal), sugar, junk food, alcohol (it’s not vegan anymore), and drugs of any form including pharmaceutical drugs. At our retreats you’ll learn what is food, real food, and what is not qualified to be called food.

love yoga

The Yogic diet will help you attain a high standard of health, keen intellect and serenity of mind. To really understand the Yogic approach to diet one has to get familiar with the concept of the 3 Gunas or qualities of nature and when they are needed, but basically we can see a Yoga life as a non-inflammatory lifestyle and the diet as a non-inflammatory diet.

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