Hatha yoga is much more than just poses. It is a lifestyle, a philosophy based on living a healthy life, devoted to self-development and God-realization. Well, ‘Jaisa anna, wisa manna.’ The translation of this sentence is, ‘We are what we eat,’ and for the yogi people, food is considered essential for keeping the body healthy, hearty, and hale. But how is our diet connected to Hatha yoga?
The right food is the best way to deepen your Hatha yoga practice, so if you want to devote yourself to see better and faster results – you will have to pay attention to your diet (read more about Mitahara here). Today, we will share more about the food that must be eaten while practicing Hatha yoga.
The Yogic Diet – what is it?
The yogic diet was created long ago by Yogi Bhajan. It suggests that while practicing Hatha yoga, or any other type – you should eat only unprocessed and whole foods such as vegetables and fresh fruits.
Bhajan considers those foods as help for mental, physical, and spiritual development and as a way to align yourself with the yogic philosophy. The diet is based on the principles of yoga – Ahimsa, Sattva, and Saucha.
Ahimsa – translated as ‘non-violence’ is about the idea that all living things should be together without harming each other to improve the world. This considers the elimination of meat and some dairy products from the diet as essential.
Sattva – is considered ‘the state of stability,’ which is the goal of yoga practices. When doing Hatha yoga, we should eat sattvic foods, leading to better heart health and a clearer mind. Those foods are whole beans and grains, fresh vegetables and fruits, mild healing spices, and not-too-sweet vegetables and fruits.
Saucha – this is the practice of cleaning and purifying our mind and body. The best way to do that is to reduce all the bad and unhealthy foods to a minimum. Eating only organic and free of chemicals will help your body nourish and feel much better.
The Yogic diet is also known as the ‘sattvic diet.’ It is all about believing that our body and mind are directly connected. By eating processed, greasy, and unhealthy food, we damage not only our bodies but our minds too. So, when eating fresh, pure food, our body and mind will be healthy and pure.
Benefits of the Yogic Diet
The yogic diet has many benefits for the mind and body. We all know that healthy food is the foundation of many body improvements. So, let us share with you some of the most popular health benefits of the yogic diet.
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Thanks to the Hatha yoga diet, you will promote healthier gut microbiomes when you stop eating processed food and start supporting vegetarian and plant-based diets. All the fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains will lead to the higher consummation of fiber, leading to better gut flora and more bowel movements.
Eating more legumes, whole grains, and nuts will give your body more energy. But why? Well, those foods have a lower glycaemic index than others. This means they are being digested slowly, providing more fuel to the body. When your body is filled with micronutrients, the cells will function better.
When eating healthier, your metabolism will be optimized, resulting in significant improvements in the health of the body. Research has proven that people who eat more plants have better metabolism and burn more calories than people who do not eat enough plants.
Reduced risk of chronic diseases
Eating more vegetables and fruits, less meat, and processed foods will make you less likely to have heart problems. Furthermore, it is proven that people who do not eat meat have a lower risk of chronic health conditions, cancer, and diabetes.
There is a powerful connection between the brain and gut health. This means that you are more likely to experience destructive emotions when eating bad, processed junk foods. People who consume more vegetables, fruits, and grains are less likely to have depression and anxiety symptoms.
And one of the most popular benefits of practicing Hatha yoga with the proper diet is reduced weight. Eating more plants and less processed, greasy, and junk food will surely help you lose weight and help your body look much better.
How to follow the yogic diet?
Beginning and getting used to a yogic diet may be tough and challenging, especially for people who are used to eating all they want. So, we would strongly advise you to take it slow!
Do not change your whole diet at once, but start with one or two changes at first, and then get into more. This will not stress your body but help it go through the change slowly.
First, you can start eating fresh seasonal food. The yoga diet includes eating fresh, whole, and organic foods that have grown as close to their natural location as possible. The best idea is to grow your plants in a garden or buy them from a local farmer. Most important – avoid processed items and packaged ones.
Then, you can start lowering the consumption of meat. The meat-free diet is easier than ever, thanks to all the products you can get at the shop. So, if possible -start removing the meat products from your meals.
Furthermore, you better avoid the stimulants and chemicals that some foods contain. For example, you should not consume artificial sweeteners, processed food, alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco.
Another thing you can do to follow the yogic diet is to eat at regular intervals and allow bigger spaces between the meals. After your first meal, ensure that around four hours have lasted before you eat again. Make sure you are not eating right before practicing Hatha yoga, nor after – some time between the practice and the meal is required.
Some yoga teachers advise you to try fasting, but this has to be your personal choice. Fasting is a practice that abstracts you from food for a certain period, for example – 12 hours or more. (read here) Its purpose is to clean the body and the mind. However, this is not recommended practice for people suffering from digestion issues.
Last but not least – you better eat more spices and healing herbs with your food. These are turmeric, ginger, parsley, mint, cinnamon, fennel, basil, and black paper. They will improve your mood, reduce anxiety and depression, alkalize the blood and promote healing of the mind and body.
What if it is too much for you?
The Yogic Diet may be too much for you, which is absolutely normal. In that case, you can pay more attention to the type of food you consume.
The food that Hatha yoga supports is light, fresh, and pleasant to be eaten. The most essential part of Hatha yoga eating is filling up only half of your stomach and leaving at least one-quarter for water.
This method is also known as Mitahara or, in other words – eating in moderation and always leaving part of the stomach empty for the air to move around.
The food that you must avoid is heavy and hard-to-digest products, non-vegetarian foods, and most importantly – alcohol. Of course, if you are not ready to remove all those foods from your diet, you can lower their consumption and try to eat more fresh and unprocessed products.
Food and our Minds
As a person practicing Hatha Yoga, you will know the importance and power of the state of mind. What is in our heads should also be considered when we eat. Food is not the solution if our mind is disturbed or not feeling okay. In that case, we may end up overeating or not eating enough. Our emotions, especially the bad ones, should not play a role in our diet, accordingly to Hatha yoga.
However, the food must be consumed in a pleasant atmosphere, with calm motion and silence. This will help us enjoy the food, but it will also help our body, soul, and mind rest while nourishing it.
Many yoga teachers ask their students to always thank God before eating their food. Furthermore, Hatha yoga suggests that we should eat food only when feeling positive. We should eat quality food that will be good for our body and mind, and we should never overeat because this will lead to food being thrown out instead of digested.
The yogic diet has many benefits for the body and the mind. Combined with practicing Hatha yoga, the positive effects on the organism will be more than significant. If you have decided to change your diet to a healthier one – this is great! Remember, do not rush. Take it slowly and enjoy all the benefits that will come after. Create your yogic diet plan with care and love. Good luck!
What is Yogic Diet?
The yogic diet was created by Yogi Bhajan, and it suggests that every person, following the practice, should eat only unprocessed and whole foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. The diet is based on the principles of yoga – Ahimsa, Sattva and Saucha, or in other words – be non-violent, be stable and be calm, and purified.
Why is the Yogic Diet beneficial for us?
According to the yogis, our body and mind are connected. When eating greasy, processed, and overall unhealthy food, we damage not only our body but our mind too. This results in anxiety, depression, bad health condition, etc. However, when eating pure, fresh, and healthy food – our minds and body will feel much better.
How to follow Yogic Diet?
To follow the Yogic Diet, you need to start slowly – do not change your diet at once – start with eating more fresh food and removing the unhealthy ones. Start lowering the consumption of meat and step by step, remove all sweeteners, alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco.
What should you do if the Yogic Diet seems like too much?
Don’t worry – it is normal. The diet may be too much, especially in the beginning. If you feel like you need to take it slowly, you can start by just paying more attention to the food you consume. Focus on fresh and light foods, drink more water, and always fill up only half of your stomach when eating.
Is the Yogic Diet suitable for everybody?
No, there is no diet that is perfectly suitable for everybody. The yogic diet is amazing, and it will result in many benefits for the mind and body, but it is strongly advised to listen to the way you feel. Your body knows what is best for you – listen carefully.
What are the benefits of the Yogic Diet?
The Yogic diet has many benefits for the body and the mind. Some of them include: improved digestion, increased energy levels, boosted metabolism, reduced risk of chronic diseases, reduced weight, and improved mood.