Proper Diet (Vegetarian)
Besides being responsible for building our physical body, the foods we eat profoundly affect our mind, our senses, as well as our environment. Today, let us begin by getting familiar with the fundamentals.
For Further Reading
• The Complete Illustrated Book of Yoga
As Yogis, we give attention to the subtle effect that food has on our mind and astral body. We therefore avoid foods which are overly stimulating, preferring those which render the mind calm and the intellect sharp. One who seriously takes to the path of Yoga would also avoid ingesting meats, fish, eggs, onions, garlic, coffee, tea (except herbal), alcohol and drugs.
Of course any change in diet should be made gradually. Start by substituting larger portions of vegetables, grains, seeds and nuts until finally all flesh products have been completely eliminated from the diet.
A healthy motto is: “Eat to live, not live to eat”. It is best if we understand that the purpose of eating is to supply our being with the life-force, or Prāṇa, the vital life energy. So the greatest nutritional plan for the Yoga student is the simple diet of natural fresh foods.
The short answer is yes. Though people often worry about whether they are getting enough protein in their daily intake, Swami Vishnu teaches that the quality of the protein is far more important than the quantity alone. Dairy products, legumes, nuts and seeds are a great source of protein and provide the vegetarian with more than an adequate supply.
Yoga professes that the sun is the source of energy for all life on our planet; it nourishes the plants (the top of the food chain) which are then eaten by animals (vegetarian), which are then eaten by other animals (carnivores). The food at the top of the food chain, being directly nourished by the sun, has the greatest life promoting properties. The food value of animal flesh is termed as a “second-hand” source of nutrition, and is considered inferior to what they call natural sources of food. These natural foods (fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and grains) have, in varying quantities, different proportions of these essential nutrients. As source of protein, these are easily assimilated by the body. However, Yogis share that second-hand sources are often more difficult to digest and are of less value to the body’s metabolism.