Food for thought

The nutrition is directly linked to the performance of asanas and our lifestyle in general. The yogi diet is based on Ayurvedic teachings. Some products are strictly forbidden by them, others are consumed in small quantities and in a certain period of time, and third yogis eat constantly. Three types of food in yoga According to Ayurveda, even the best and cleanest foods are not always healthy. So, there is food that should be consumed only in winter or summer. Some foods should be eaten in the morning, because they excite and give energy, others in the evening, as they calm and set you up for a long sleep. Yoga  divides all food into three types:

       Sattva, which means “purity.” This includes all fresh vegetarian food. Mostly seeds and sprouted grains, fruits, wheat, butter, milk and honey.

      Rajas is a food that excites the body. It is better not to use products from this category or to reduce their amount in the diet to a minimum. This includes citrus fruits, tea and coffee, as well as spices, fish, seafood, eggs, alcohol, soda, garlic and onions.

     Tamas is a rough and heavy meal. It is difficult to absorb by the body. It does more harm than good. Relaxes, after eating it makes you want to sleep. These are root vegetables, red meat (beef and pork), all canned foods, mushrooms, food with a heavy taste (roach, etc.). This includes frozen food and one that has been stored for some time. These are also considered dishes that are reheated, alcohol and food that has been cooked in a restaurant or store.

 Doing yoga, you will feel what products you will not need. Changes in the body will occur harmoniously and in accordance with the needs of your body. The gradual process of rebuilding the habits of the body is very important.

Many (and not only in yoga) make the same mistake: they abruptly begin to change their diet (completely abandon meat, fish, eggs, switch to the most sophisticated diets, such as raw food diet, etc.). With this development of events, in a few months you will face a series of ailments, such as colds, exacerbation of all previously existing sores, and digestive upset. And then it could be worse. Naturally, there can be no question of doing yoga.

Beware of this mistake!

  • never abruptly change your lifestyle, especially in nutrition, non-compliance with this rule leads to big trouble;
  • a complete rejection of meat food does not always bring positive results. If you abandoned the meat, you need to replace it with another animal protein: milk and dairy products, eggs, fish;
  • in your diet should always be present in large quantities vegetables and fruits;
  • food should always be fresh and harmoniously selected.

It must be remembered that the body will never tolerate abuse of itself both in the diet and in the mode of activity. And with the right approach to yoga, you become as independent as possible from environmental conditions, feeling great in any situation, with any set of food products.


The Three Gunas and The Yogi Diet

What are the three Gunas

The three Gunas are fundamental attributes that creates the essential aspects of all nature – energy, matter and consciousness. All three gunas are always present and varies in their relative amounts. Each of us have the unique ability to consciously alter the levels of the gunas in our bodies and minds. A guna can be increased or decreased through the interaction and influence of external objects, lifestyle practices and thoughts. The three Gunas are Tamas, Rajas and Sattva.


Tamas is a state of darkness, inertia, inactivity and materiality. Tamas manifests from ignorance and deludes all beings from their spiritual truths


Rajas is a state of energy, action, change and movement. The nature of rajas is of attraction, longing and attachment and rajas strongly binds us to the fruits of our work.


Sattva is a state of harmony, balance, joy and intelligence. Sattva is the guna that yogis seeks to achieve towards as it reduces Rajas and Tamas and thus makes liberation possible.

The Yogi Diet

The Yoga Diet is one the Five Principles of Yoga that improves one’s health and make you feel stronger. The yogi diet can also be classified under the three Gunas which are Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic.
Sattvic Food

  • The purest diet
  • Most suitable for any serious student of Yoga
  • Nourishes the body and maintains it in a peaceful state
  • Calms and purifies the mind, enabling it to function at its maximum potential
  • Leads to true health; a peaceful mind in control of a fit body, with a balanced flow of energy between them

Sattvic foods include:

  • Cereals
  • Wholemeal bread
  • Fresh fruit and vegetables
  • Pure fruit juices
  • Milk
  • Butter and cheese
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Sprouted seeds
  • Honey and herb teas

Rajasic Food

  • Very spicy, bitter, sour, dry or salty food
  • Tilt the balance of mind-body equilibrium, feeding the body at the expense of the mind
  • Too much Rajastic food will over-stimulate the body and excite the passions, making the mind restless and uncontrollable
  • Eating in a hurry is also considered Rajasic

Rajasic foods include:

  • Hot substances, such as sharp spices or strong herbs
  • Stimulants such as coffee and teas
  • Eggs
  • Salt

Tamasic Food

  • A Tamasic Diet benefits neither the mind nor the body
  • Energy is withdrawn, powers of reasoning become clouded and a sense of inertia sets in
  • The body’s immunities to disease is affected and fills the mind with dark emotions, such as anger and greed
  • Overeating is also considered Tamasic

Tamasic food includes:

  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Alchohol
  • Fermented foods such as vinegar
  • Mushroom (Grow in darkness)
  • Deep fried food
  • Stale overripe substances


In during practice in yoga, I came to realize that all three Gunas exists in us. Like an apple tree, some fruits are ripe; represents Sattvic, some are ripening; represents rajasic and some overripe; represents Tamasic. No matter what quality prevails, an element of each of the other two will always be present as well. Each Guna serves a purpose and contributes to an overall balanced way of living. Although many would feel that Tamas sound completely negative, we require the quality of Tamas every night when we settle in for sleep, as well as when our bodies need rest to recover from illness or periods of over-exhaustion. Rajas is the movement and activity of the body and mind. We need rajas to go about the business of our lives, from eating to working to entertainment. I feel that the key is to balance both of the two Gunas while cultivating Sattva as the predominate element.
Before I came into practice in yoga, my eating habits tend to go toward Tamasic food. As this energy takes forms it predominates and I gradually slipped into a mindless ignorance of my needs and turned into a sluggish resistance to life. Yoga teachings made me understand the elements and the need to balance them. And to balance them I would have to start with my eating habits. With constant practice I began switching more to Sattvic food with a dose of Rajasic and Tamasic food to keep the balance.


As we embrace Sattva and begin to attend in balancing our Gunas, we must remember to be gentle and supportive with ourselves. 

Why eat meat?

I grew up as a vegetarian.  My mom had a strict no-meat-in-the-house policy and we all honored it.  Growing up, I remember eating a lot of beans and rice, broccoli and peanut butter satay, dahl, and tofu.  Because we lived in a small town in northern Michigan, we didn’t have lots of salad in the winter time, but we did eat seasonal vegetables.  Exciting sweets were canned peaches (as a huge treat) every blue moon.  As far as I knew, vegetarianism wasn’t political or nutritional or religious, it just was the way it was.
When I was 17, I moved abroad and it suddenly became far more difficult to maintain my vegetarian lifestyle.  In many developing countries, meat was the everywhere AND it was rude to turn down any offer of food.  In order to make the most of my surroundings, I started eating meat.  For years, all I could eat was chicken and fish (and even then, sparingly and in tiny portions).  While living in Kenya, I had my first brush with red meat: Nyama Mbuzi, grilled goat.  It was stringy and old and muscular and the whole time I was eating it, I imagined the goat who had died so I could eat.
I remained a carnivore of convenience for a few years.  I would eat meat when it was cooked by roommates or friends, but didn’t know how to cook it myself (nor did I care to learn).  I found that I would feel slow, heavy, and lifeless after eating meat.  After eating vegetables, legumes, grains, or fruit, I feel energized and (as long as I don’t eat a lot) light.  When I am living alone and cooking for myself (or living with my sister who shares my eating habits), I eat salads, light pastas, and lots of beans and veggies.  I’m not a huge fan of spending long hours cooking, except on winter weekends.  I don’t bother buying bread or milk, as I don’t consume it quickly enough.
I’ve subsequently returned to my vegetarian roots for a number of reasons.  On a totally personal level, eating a vegetarian diet makes me feel better than eating meat.  On a broader level, I don’t think it’s fair for me to expect something else to die so that I can eat, especially since it’s possible to get all the nutrients you need without eating meat.  The meat industry (and today it is an industry, nothing less) is one of the more destructive environmental forces operating today– huge swaths of forest around the world are being burned to make room for grazing cattle, runoff from chicken and pig farms are polluting rivers and streams, and the emissions created by all these endeavours more than negates their worth.  On a humanitarian (or animalitarian) level, the indignities and physical pain that meat animals are subjected to is enough to turn anyone off meat.  I would highly recommend that everyone read Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.
I think that a vegetarian diet makes sense for everyone, not just yogis, buddhists, statement-makers, etc….  In order to be successful, happy, and healthy as a vegetarian though, it is essential to do it for reasons that matter to you.  I know so many people who decided to be a vegetarian because it’s cool or PC.  Their vegetarian diet lasted a few weeks, then they went back to eating meat.  As with anything, living a vegetarian lifestyle must come from within.  If it is the right thing for you, then it will work.  If vegetarianism isn’t your thing, that’s cool too–my least favorite vegetarians (or eaters in general, I guess) are the ones who want to convert you, to judge you, to tell you why EVERYONE should be a vegetarian.  I choose to be a vegetarian because it feels right to me emotionally, politically, spiritually, and physically.