An Alkaline start
There is a build-up of toxins and acids in our bodies overnight, hence a ritual of lemon water on an empty stomach is very dear to yoga. It is extremely alkaline, detoxifies and wakes ups all the organs much better than coffee does. Add pink Himalayan salt to it and you amplify its detoxifying power.
In ancient texts, there is no mention of carbs, proteins and fats. Food is divided into Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic. Sattvic diet is one that leads to clarity of mind and physical health. It is plant-based, light, extremely alkaline and eco-friendly – like fresh fruits, green leafy vegetables, nuts and grains. Rajasic is more stimulating, heat producing, rich and acidic, which includes meat, eggs, pickles, tea/coffee. Tamasic diet leads to dullness and lethargy. It’s acidic, putrid and reheated. It includes alcohol, sugary foods and beverages. Yogis only follow the Sattvic way of eating.
Everything in yoga is related to prana (life force). Food which has prana gives us physical and emotional strength. Cooked food is of less importance – heat destroys its fibre, nutrients and enzymes to quite an extent. So are canned, frozen, microwaved, or highly processed foods. Raw food, as intended by nature, gives us all vitamins and minerals – and in the most bio-available form. The method of sprouting is given top importance as it’s one of the best ways to consume functional “live” enzymes. Enzymes play a vital role in digestion and fighting disease.
Yoga believes that accumulation of toxins breeds disease. Wrong eating habits, exposure to chemicals, build-up of negative emotions lead to an imbalance of mind and body. Fasting is one of the most common practices that can counter-balance this. There are various ways of fasting: water fast, fruit fast, giving up one or two meals in a day. The main reasoning behind this is to give our digestive system a break.
A famous yogi once said: “The greatest enemy of health and long life is overeating.” There is a term in yoga called Mitahara, which means moderate eating, leaving one quarter of the stomach reserved for the movement of air. This eating style is easy on digestion and in quantities that can keep the body and mind clear and light.
Yogic nutrition is incomplete without ghee, coconut oil and soaked nuts/seeds. They make food appetizing, digestible and satisfying. They help in healing the mind too. The presence of fats in the body improves memory, neural conductivity and mental well-being.
Herbs & adaptogens
Teas or concoctions of intensely flavoured and power-packed herbs like turmeric, ginger, coriander, pepper, cinnamon, and cardamom are the go-to beverages for yogis. They are anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and detoxifying in nature. Yoga also encourages use of adaptogens like Ashwagandha and Triphala. They are known to lower stress, stimulate thyroid function and protect against oxidative stress.