You are what you eat: Eat like a Yogi not Like a Bhogi!!!
Yogic Diet and Path of Yoga
A diet that is wholly conducive to the practice of Yoga and spiritual progress is called “Yogic Diet.” Diet has intimate connection with the mind. Mind is formed out of the subtlest portion of food. Sage Uddalaka instructs his son Svetaketu “Food, when consumed becomes threefold: the gross particles become excrement, the middling ones flesh and the fine ones the mind. My child, when curd is churned, its fine particles raise upwards, form butter. Thus, my child, when food is consumed, the fine particles which rise upwards form the mind. Hence verily the mind is food.”Again you will find in the Chhandogya Upanishad: “By the purity of food one becomes purified in his inner nature; by the purification of his inner nature he verily gets memory of the Self; and by the attainment of the memory of the Self, all ties and attachments are severed.”
Diet is of three kinds’ viz., Sattvic diet, Rajasic diet and Tamasic diet. Milk, barely, wheat, cereals, butter, cheese, tomatoes, honey, dates, fruits, almonds and sugar-candy are all Sattvic foodstuffs. They render the mind pure and calm. Fish, eggs, meat, salt, chillies and asafoetida are Rajasic foodstuffs. They excite passion. Beef, wine, garlic, onions and tobacco are Tamasic foodstuffs. They fill the mind with anger, darkness and inertia.
Food plays an important part in meditation. Different foods produce different effects on different compartments of the brain. For purposes of meditation, the food should be light, nutritious and Sattvic. Milk, fruits, almonds, butter, sugar-candy, green gram, Bengal gram soaked in water overnight, bread, etc., are all very helpful in meditation. Thed (a kind of root available in abundance in the Himalayan regions) is very Sattvic. Tea and sugar should be used in moderation. It is better if you can give them up entirely. Dried ginger-powder can be mixed with milk and taken frequently. Indian Yogis like this very much. Another health-giving stuff is myrobalan of the yellow variety which can be chewed now and then. In the Vagbhata it is represented as even superior to a nourishing mother. It takes care of the body better than a mother does. A mother gets annoyed with her child sometimes, but myrobalan always keeps an even temperament and is cheerful and enthusiastic in attending to the well-being of human beings. It preserves semen and stops all nocturnal emissions. Potato, boiled without salt or baked on fire, is also an excellent food for practitioners.
A beginner should be careful in choosing food-stuffs of Sattvic nature. Food exercises tremendously vast influence over the mind. You can see it obviously in everyday-life. It is very difficult to control mind after a heavy, sumptuous, indigestible, rich meal. The mind runs, wanders and jumps like an ape all the time. Alcohol causes great excitement of the mind.
Evolution is better than revolution. You should not make sudden changes in anything, particularly so in matters pertaining to food and drink. Let the change be slow and gradual. The system should accommodate it without any trouble. Nature never moves by leaps.
Aspirants should be able to make out a cheap and well-balanced diet from only a certain articles of diet. What is needed is a well-balanced diet, not a rich diet. A rich diet produces diseases of the liver, kidneys and pancreas. A well-balanced Yogic diet helps a man to grow, to turn out more work, maintains his body-weight, and keeps up the efficiency, stamina and a high standard of vim and vigor.
Where can Sannyasins in India, who live on public alms get a well-balanced diet? On some days they get pungent stuffs only, on some other days sweet meats only and yet on some other day sour things only. But they are able to draw the requisite energy through power of meditation. This unique Yogic method is unknown to the medical profession and to the scientists. Whenever the mind is concentrated, a divine wave bathes all the tissues with a divine elixir. All the cells are renovated and vivified.
The vast majority of persons dig their graves through their teeth. No rest is given to the stomach. After all, man wants very little on this bountiful earth—a few loaves of bread, a little butter and some cold water. This will amply suffice to keep the life going. People, on the contrary, stuff their stomachs with all sorts of things, eatable and uneatable, on account of the force of habit and passions.
A Yogic student who spends his time wholly in pure meditation wants very little food. One or one and a half seers of milk and some fruits per day will quite suffice. But a Yogi who ascends the platform for vigorous active work wants abundant nutritious food. Moderation is Yoga. Eat to live and not live to eat. Follow this golden rule and be happy. You can then devote more time to Yoga practices.