Yoga and Food

Guna in Sanskrit means “strands” or “qualities”, so, the gunas in general means energetic forces that gather together to form the universe in everything. Regarding their characteristics, gunas can be classified as sattva, rajas, and tamas, respectively corresponding to consciousness, activity, and stability. A guna is one of the three tendencies of the mind, body, and consciousness. Surprisingly, diet can also be categorized under these three gunas.

Sattivic diet includes food that grows naturally under the sun and is pure, natural, vital, and energy-containing, such as whole grains, dairy, and vegetables. Sattvic Diet is considered as the purest diet as it nourishes the body and maintains it in a peaceful state; more importantly, Sattivic diet helps calm and purify the mind, enabling it to function at its maximum potential.

Rajasic food refers to the food that gives energy and can drive the sense organs, therefore, rajasic diet consists of foods that are very hot, bitter, sour, dry or salty. Rajasic diet destroys the mind-body equilibrium, feeding the body at the expense of the mind. An over intake of rajasic food will over-stimulate the body and excite the passions, making the mind restless and uncontrollable. Typical rajasic foods include overly spicy or hot substances, such as sharp spices or strong herbs, onions and garlic, stimulants such as coffee and teas, fish, poultry, eggs, salt and chocolate.

Tamasic food can take the energy away. And a Tamasic diet benefits neither the mind nor the body, because it withdraws prana, or  energy, from the body, making the mind to be filled with dark emotions, such as anger and greed. Typical tamasic food includes overnight food, meat, alcohol, tobacco, fermented foods such as vinegar and stale overripe substances.

After knowing the three gunas and correlated food options, we could be planning a more balanced daily dietary based on the three gunas, then food can be that medicine that leads us to reach a healthier state both mentally and physically.