International Yoga Day 2023: Yogic Diet For A Healthy Lifestyle
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India is known as the birthland of Yoga and this traditional physical, mental and spiritual health practice has now been picked up by people across the world. So popular is Yoga all over the world now—and so immense its impact—that in 2014, the United Nations General Assembly announced that June 21 every year will be observed as International Yoga Day across the world. True to form, International Yoga Day witnesses community and national-level yoga sessions all day, and in India, everybody from celebrities to leaders participate in it. 

But did you know that practicing Yoga as purely a physical activity isn’t as effective unless you also follow a yogic diet? A yogic diet, also known as a yogic or sattvic diet, is a way of eating that is based on the principles of yoga and Ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine). It emphasizes consuming foods that are considered pure, light, and conducive to spiritual growth. The aim of a yogic diet is to promote physical and mental well-being, balance the body and mind, and support one's yogic and spiritual practices. 

Here is everything you need to know about following a Yogic Diet for a holistic and healthy lifestyle. 

Video Credit: YouTube/Satvic Movement

The Core Principles Of A Yogic Diet 

A Yogic Diet is based on three core principles that work as the pillars of the entire yogic system. These core tenets not only guide what we eat and how we eat, but also provide guidance for the state of mind in which Yoga should be practiced. Here are the three core principles of a Yogic diet.  

Sattva (Purity): The principle of sattva refers to consuming foods that are pure, clean, and nourishing for the body and mind. Sattvic foods are considered to be light, easily digestible, and conducive to mental clarity and spiritual growth. They include fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, dairy products (in moderation), and herbal teas. Sattvic foods are believed to promote harmony, balance, and a calm state of mind. 

Ahimsa (Non-violence): Ahimsa is the principle of non-violence or non-harming. In a yogic diet, the emphasis is on choosing foods that are obtained without causing harm or violence to living beings. This is why a vegetarian or plant-based diet is often followed in yogic practices. By abstaining from meat, poultry, fish, and other animal products, practitioners aim to cultivate compassion, respect for all forms of life, and a sense of interconnectedness. 

Saucha (Cleanliness): Saucha, meaning cleanliness or purity, is an important principle in yoga philosophy and is often considered a core principle in a yogic diet. While Saucha encompasses various aspects of cleanliness, including physical, mental, and environmental cleanliness, when applied to the diet, it focuses primarily on the purity of the food consumed. 

Yogic Diet: The Do’s You Have To Follow 

The simple reason why a Yogic Diet is holistic is because it includes plenty of seasonal ingredients that are completely natural. This is based on the ancient Ayurvedic concept of Ritucharya, where people consume foods that are in season to allign their minds and bodies with nature. This apart, there are a number of rules to follow in a proper Yogic Diet, rules which very logically explain why eating certain foods or food groups can help your holistic wellbeing along.  

Sattvic foods: A yogic diet primarily consists of sattvic foods. Sattva is a Sanskrit term that represents purity, clarity, and harmony. Sattvic foods are believed to promote these qualities and enhance spiritual awareness. They are considered light, easily digestible, and nourishing. Examples of sattvic foods include fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, dairy products (in moderation), and herbal teas. 

Vegetarian or plant-based: A yogic diet is typically vegetarian or plant-based, as it promotes compassion towards all living beings. The emphasis is on consuming foods that are obtained from nature without causing harm or violence. It is important to remember here that not all vegetarian foods are sattvik, so the areas of overlap are where you should focus. 

Fresh and natural: A yogic diet encourages the consumption of fresh, natural, and minimally processed foods. It emphasizes avoiding heavily processed, artificial, and chemically laden foods, as they are considered tamasic (dull and heavy) and can negatively impact the body and mind. This means not only cutting off refined flour and polished rice, but also baked goodies. 

Moderation and mindful eating: The yogic diet encourages mindful eating and moderation. It emphasizes listening to the body's natural hunger and fullness cues and eating in a calm and relaxed state. 

Awareness of food combinations: According to Ayurveda, certain food combinations can affect digestion and overall well-being. The yogic diet recommends combining foods that are compatible and avoiding incompatible combinations that may lead to digestive issues or energy imbalances. 

Yogic Diet: Don’ts You Need To Beware Of 

A Yogic Diet is based on the above-mentioned principles. So, while there are foods you should eat, there are others that you should avoid. Here are some of those foods and food preparation methods that are big no-no in Yogic Diet. 

Tamasic foods: Tamasic foods are believed to be heavy, dull, and can negatively impact the body and mind. These include foods that are overly processed, deep-fried, excessively spicy, or high in artificial additives, preservatives, and stimulants. Examples of tamasic foods include fast food, sugary snacks, processed meats, alcohol, and heavily caffeinated beverages as well as onions and garlic. 

Non-vegetarian foods: A yogic diet typically excludes non-vegetarian foods such as meat, poultry, and fish. This is rooted in the principle of ahimsa (non-violence) and the belief that a vegetarian or plant-based diet supports a compassionate and non-harming lifestyle. 

Overeating and excess consumption: A yogic diet encourages mindful eating and moderation. It is important to avoid overeating, as it can lead to discomfort, lethargy, and interfere with the clarity and focus of the mind. 

Negative food combinations: According to Ayurveda, certain food combinations can disrupt digestion and create toxins in the body. It is generally recommended to avoid incompatible food combinations such as mixing milk with sour fruits, combining milk with certain vegetables, or combining fruits with heavy proteins. 

Unhealthy cooking methods: The yogic diet encourages using healthy cooking methods such as steaming, boiling, baking, or sautéing in natural oils. Deep frying and excessive use of oils or fats should be minimized to maintain the purity and lightness of the food.