Food is a basic necessity and plays a vital role in building the entire Personality of an individual. All our physical strength, mental faculties and spiritual leaning is a sum and substance of the food that we eat. Our mind and feelings are shaped by what we consume. In recent times lots of diseases and health problems have increased due to our indiscriminate eating habits. The fast pace of the modern times has changed the entire food patterns of all and sundry. The old dictum of “Eat fresh and healthy and Stay wealthy” is slowly waning and is replaced by the modern spectre of fast food. Modern fast food and various unhealthy food habits have completely changed the dynamics of general Health and lifestyle of an individual. Several deadly diseases like various types of Cancer and Health issues like Obesity are on the rise. All these Health issues and other problems related to wrong eating practices can be solved by taking recourse to the Yogic food or Diet. The concept of Yogic food is becoming the order of the day in the present times owing to its salutary effects on our Body, Mind and Soul.
What is Yogic Food?
Any food that has a salutary and wholesome effect on our Body, Mind and Soul and transforms our whole being is called Yogic food. It is very helpful for both our Worldly and Spiritual progress. Yogic food is based on the ancient Ayurvedic and Yoga principles that were enunciated by the Indian Yogis of yore. Both Yoga and Ayurveda consider food as an indispensable component of our life. The Ancient yogis consider the Yogic food as Brahman (The Ultimate Reality underlying all phenomenon in Hindu scriptures) and the bedrock of our existence. They also believe that from food all beings are born, by food they live and into food they return.
Yogic food helps us to evolve both internally as well as externally. It is a Balanced diet which impacts not only our Physical health and thoughts but also our emotional and spiritual well being. It is also hailed as Lacto-vegetarian food. It consists of grains, pulses, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts and seeds along with milk products and honey. It totally excludes all the animal foods and eggs too. Yogic food is simple, natural and wholesome and it also considers the subtle effect of food on our mind and prana(life force or breath).
Yogic food dwells on the type and the quality of food to be consumed in details. It also points out clearly the type of foods to be avoided. It lays emphasis on the nourishment that we acquire from various sources of food and not on its flavour. Yogic food lays a great stress on the principle of moderation on anything that we eat or drink. Yogic food plays an important role in all round development of our body, mind and soul
Importance of Yogic food
There are four types of Yogic food:-
- To be chewed
- To be sucked
- To be licked
- To be drunk
When these four types of food are eaten by an individual, they get converted into Rasa and it is further divided into three parts:-
- The most vital part of this Rasa acts as a nourishment for our subtle body which includes the mind, intellect, ego etc
- The second or the middle part nurtures the Seven Dhatus(seven tissues) of our body
- The third and the last part is actually a Waste material. It is excreted out of our body through various means like carbon dioxide is thrown away by the lungs, sweat from skin, urine and stool from their respective organs.
Yogic food lays emphasis on three main principles:-
- Hitbhuk – One should always eat the proper type of food that is wholesome for our body, mind and soul. It stresses on the fact that we should always eat what is healthy and good for us. We should not become a slave of our taste buds and eat all types of food. We should choose such food items which increase our longevity and help in our overall development.
- Ritbhuk – One should always eat according to the prevailing season and it should be earned through righteous and honest means. Then only it will be beneficial for our body, mind and soul. It lays importance on the fact that whatever we eat should be obtained from ethical and pure means. The food should be prepared and eaten with purity of mind. The one who prepares the food should be kind and affectionate and the one who eats it should eat it by first praying to God. It also stresses that the food that we consume should be in accordance with the existing season.
- Mitbhuk – One should always eat in moderation that has a salutary effect on our body, mind and soul. It recommends a moderate quantity of everything one eats and drinks. Self-discipline in choice of food is important not only for our health but also for our spiritual evolution. It strictly prohibits overeating and overindulgence of any kind. It stresses the fact we should eat only eat those foods which are conducive for our health and avoid tasty and unwholesome food.
Yogic food comprises of a moderate diet which satisfies three- fourths of one’s hunger with food offered to God, one-fourth part should be kept empty. It is known as Mithara, the limited food or balanced diet.
Food is classified on the basis of Tri-gunas and is of the following three types namely Sattvika, Rajasika and Tamasika. Yogic food strictly advocates Sattvika food and strictly prohibits Rajasika and Tamasika food completely.
Sattvika food is one which increases vitality, energy, vigour, health, joy and mirthfulness. It is savoury oleaginous and wholesome. It helps in overall growth and development of body, mind and soul.
Rajasika food is bitter, sour, saline, hot, pungent, dry and burning. They stimulate the body and mind and lead to pain grief and disease as an outcome.
Tamasika food is stale, tasteless, stinking, cooked overnight, refused and impure. It leads to lethargy, restlessness and inertia as its end result.
Yogic food follows the Sanskrit Sutra completely:-
“Yuktahara-viharasya yukta –cestasya karmasu
Yukta-svapnavabodhasya yogo bhavati duhkha-ha”
One who is moderate in his habits of eating, sleeping, working and recreation can overcome all worldly pains and sorrows by practicing Yoga.
Everything that we consume acts as a food for our soul. The food that we eat has a close relation with our mind. Whenever we eat anything it becomes trebled, the gross particles become excrement, the middle particles become flesh and the finest particles become the mind. Therefore whenever we consume food the fine particles that rise upwards form the mind. Hence truly the mind is the food.
The Yogis believe that food gives rise to the prana(life force)that helps in maintaining our bodies and also gives us vitality and health. Thereby, the types of food that we choose to eat show the true measure of our conscious development. Yoga strongly recommends a pure and moral vegetarian diet, which helps in the evolution of Sattva guna. Sattva is the quality of love, understanding, relation and peace with all living beings.
The Yogis are of the view that food acts as the first interaction with the world surrounding us. If we do not eat with a feeling of love, relation and peace, then all other aspects of our life are bound to get affected. Sattva is based on the concept of ahimsa (non injury). A Sattvik food avoid all those foods that are involved with the killing or harming of animals. Sattvik foods also includes the foods grown in harmony with nature. It also includes ripened and natural foods.
In addition to it the foods that we consume should be prepared with love and positive feelings. Yogic food helps in increasing the prana and higher state of consciousness.
Yogic food surely provides a means for improving and enhancing our overall health and well being. It acts as a Prophylactic means to save us from the onslaught of deadly diseases and acts a “panacea for all ills” for sure. Evolution is better than Revolution. Let us gradually embrace this sublime concept laid down by the Ancient Indian Yogis and completely transform our Whole being.