Food For the Body, That Nourishes the Soul
I always thought that all yogis must follow a strict vegetarian diet. However, there’s no written rule in yoga that you have to be vegetarian, but yoga does try to elevate the consciousness to a stage where they feel love and compassion for all living beings—including animals. Eating them isn’t exactly compassionate. Plus, it’s believed that our bodies don’t really need meat for its functioning. Eating meat puts our body into overdrive to digest it making us feel heavy and some yogis over the years also point out that meat eating nations are ones that have shown the most aggressive behaviour. Another reason for the association is that Yoga practices aim at cleansing the system to gradually bring the body to a peak of efficiency and sensitivity, meat carries the very same toxins yoga aims as flushing out. Hence, eliminating meat from your diet not only has immense health considerations but also secures an oneness with all living creators of the earth and ultimately the creator.
The practice of yoga is usually followed by a change in eating habits. Food and the nourishment it provides our bodies has a close association with yoga itself, after-all yoga is not mere exercise but a life style. While you can choose what part of yoga you’d like to adopt to improve your life, the choice of following a yogic diet is just that- a choice. But when your body and inner-self start feeling good, you tend to pay closer attention to what you put into your body.
I have learnt that traditionally, the yogic diet was called a diet of “fruits and roots” (phala mula). The bulk of a yogi’s diet would include: whole grains, beans, root vegetables, seeds and nuts, fruits and leafy vegetables, and some dairy products (primarily ghee & milk) as well. Yoga practitioners should aim to eat food that will increase their prana (life sustaining energy). It is important not to get overwhelmed when first beginning to make dietary changes. Making true the age-old saying: “you are what you eat!”