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Diet and Yoga

By Manjari Bhatt

In Yoga, it is said that `What you eat is what you are.' Meaning the food has a direct impact on human mind, personality and behavior. After all Yoga is basically a healthy life style for spiritual upliftment!

The Science of Yoga has both, ideology and technology: suggestive theory and practical methods. Yoga suggests and supports vegetarian diet, naturally grown fruits and vegetables, all grains, pulses and dairy products as a healthy diet with few options. The options are available to those who have reached the higher level of understanding and perception. The yogic diet emphasis vegetarian and dairy products for mainly two reasons, firstly: The principles of Yoga are based on the laws of the Mother Nature and secondly it purely believes in the core nature. The more you are close to the nature you are more healthy, the more you are away from her you are more sick and ill and most unhealthy!

The first step in Yoga practices is *Yama, meaning restrains. Which covers the concept of *'Ahinsa' meaning non-violence, non-hurting, non-killing and non-injury. Mother nature has given supremacy to man by giving and providing more intellectual power compare to other creatures on earth. The virtue of Non-violence is to curb that power. Man has no right to kill or hurt any other creatures. Yoga practice thus restricts the act of man so he can't misuse his powers on other creatures. In other words there is a straight message to eat live and survive on the products naturally grown or cultivated by man in order to cover the needs of the human population on earth.

There is always a debate and discussion that plucking and cutting any fruits, vegetables, plants and trees, is also an act of violence. Yoga gives further explanation that you have only right to cut, which, is grown naturally or cultivated by man himself! The seed itself has no life. You put life into it by providing land, manure, water, your efforts and care. So you have a right to pluck and cut! You are the cause and reason of that life. So for survival, cutting any naturally grown and cultivated plants or plucking fruits from a tree is not considered as an act of violence or sin as per the law of nature and Yoga.

Yoga science further explains that why vegetarian diet is good? It also gives scientific explanation at both levels: physical and mental.

Physically:

  • Vegetarian diet is easy to digest because it is natural E.g. The protein from any beans or dairy product is easy to digest than an animal protein.

  • Vegetarian diet takes 3-4 hours to digest while non-vegetarian diet takes 6 + hours to digest. The body and specially the organs of the digestive system have to work more and hard to digest heavy foods.

Mentally:

Our great Yogis were observers of the nature. They have studied the Nature very minutely and precisely. Milk is the first food taken by all babies: human or animal! A very natural form of food for any life! Produced by the body and for the nourishment of the body! So all the natural form of dairy product is covered in Yogic diet. Again animal milk is a question of debate and discussion but we all know that we use the milk from animals those are domestic and survive on grains, grass and plants - the natural foods. E.g. cows, goats, camels etc. Plus the priority is given to their babies and human - the caretaker or owner, uses remaining extra milk!

In the category of domestic animals we have to consider elephant, horse, donkey, bull etc though they are strong, their strength and power is useful, they offer their services to the owners! The violent and wild animals: tiger, panther, lion, they attack and kill others. Now just compare their nature, behavior and food they eat and you will get the answer!

In other words it proves that even in animal kingdom, those who are eating natural veggie food are more calm, useful and stronger animals! Their strength is useful. While wild animals are always angry, irritated, agitated and restless. They are strong but the strength is wasted in fulfilling their needs, instincts, power and desires!

The same principle applies to man! Here we get the straight message from the nature that which type of person you would like to be? Calm, cool controlled and at ease or angry, agitated and restless? As I've mentioned earlier that in Yoga it is said `what you eat is what you are!' I hope that the explanation given by our great Yogis is enough to understand that why Yoga practically suggests, supports and encourage vegetarian diet! Choice is your! To eat vegetarian diet or non-vegetarian!

Note: Words written in *Italics are Sanskrit words.
 

 

Manjari Bhatt is a Yoga Teacher & Therapist and Founder of Yoga Education Centre Ontario  ... More

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