“A fit, healthy body—that is the best fashion statement” - Jess C Scott
Yoga is a discipline that almost everyone is familiar with. Breathing exercises, stretches, meditation, and muscle training are all parts of yoga that you’ll become familiar with as you practise more. These exercises will help you get into shape, which is why yoga has become so popular.
Somewhere between 300,000 and 460,000 people are thought to regularly practise yoga in the UK. 21 June is the International Day of Yoga, also known unofficially as Yoga Day, is when yogis come together to celebrate their way of life. Given how important yoga is to a lot of people, it goes without saying that your diet will play a large role in your life as a yogi.
The yoga practice can help you improve your flexibility through yoga poses, breathing techniques, awareness of yourself and your surroundings, healing through a meditative routine, and achieving happiness through relaxation and exertion.
But what is a yogic diet? Is there even such a thing? What’s in it?
Don’t panic. We’ll explain everything you need to know!
The Importance of Diet with Yoga
With so many people interested in what they need to eat in order to lose weight, how to eat fewer calories without feeling hungry, how to eat more healthily, how to avoid dairy, fat, or gluten, choosing what to eat can become really complicated. It can be difficult to put together a balanced diet that you actually enjoy.
You need to change the way you think about eating and put things back into perspective. Generally, people eat three times a day. Eating is an activity that’s almost universal. If your body, mind, and spirit appreciate food in exactly the same way, you’ll benefit a lot more from the act of eating.
Yoga is a discipline which allows us to open up and use a better understanding of eating to benefit us. I’m not going to reveal everything just yet, but by combining spirituality, meditation, and exercising, you pretty much have to include what you eat.
Some people eat to live whereas others live to eat. The philosophy of yoga can help you to start seeing lipids, starch, carbohydrates, fats as nutritional requirements.
So which aspects of yoga influence what we eat?
Let’s take a look...
The Yoga Diet, Where Mindfulness Meets the Plate
An important part of a yoga diet, as you’ll have understood, is that you’ll want to see what’s on your plate. Whether it’s vegetables, grains, vegetable proteins, or a snack, every part of the food you eat is important and can help you to see every part of life more spiritually, especially when it comes to eating.
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Being aware of what you eat, chewing your food, and enjoying the textures, flavours, and the ingredients as integral parts of your meals are an important part of understanding a yogic diet. Of course, when you hear “diet”, you often think of weight loss or another way to get in shape, rather than a spiritual diet. This is a diet for the mind, body, and spirit.
These are the main tenants of the yogic diet. You need to reflect on eating and what you eat in your everyday life. Eating isn’t as dull as you think it is, it can be an art. As they often say, you are what you eat!
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Vegetarianism, Applying Yoga to Diet
We have to say that there is no single yogic diet but instead, you’ll find a lot of different yogis with different diets. Vegetarian, raw foodism, vegan, etc., there are as many different diets as there are yogis. However, there is a lot of overlap between the philosophy of vegetarianism and the philosophy of yoga. It goes without saying that eating vegetables and natural ingredients come with a lot of benefits.
Vegetarianism is a non-violent approach to eating that focuses on avoiding animal suffering. Avoiding suffering is the main part that will appeal to yogi. You’ll replace meat with pulses, vegetable protein, and balance your dishes with the right products.
In yoga, this is known as “ahimsa”, respect for all living things and the avoidance of violence towards them. It can be quite difficult to fully eliminate meat and fish from your diet, though. You can also just reduce your consumption of meat and fish. Thus, you can still enjoy the occasional steak while reducing your impact on animal suffering rather than doing absolutely nothing.
A yoga diet shouldn’t frustrate you but rather make you feel better. There needs to be a balance, just like you’d find in any yoga pose.
Raw Foodism and Yoga, A Duo that Works
When most people think of raw foodism, they tend to think of boring and tasteless food. However, you’ll see that yoga and raw foodism can create food full of flavours and colour that gets the most out of the ingredients while keeping all their nutrition. Digestion will also be easier.
What better way to finally get into shape?
Just like vegetarianism, you don’t need to convert to raw foodism overnight. You can still eat meat and fish with raw foodism through tartare and carpaccio, for example. By eating in this way, you’ll pretty much always be eating food and ingredients that are in season.
Yoga also involves listening to the planet, your body, and your spirit. Yoga is all about fusion and bonds, links to the world we live in, what we consume, and what we experience.
Yoga and the Paleo Diet
The paleo diet is definitely compatible with the teachings of yoga.
But what exactly is the paleo diet?
It’s all about eating food from the palaeolithic age.
But how do you do this?
The idea is that you only eat exactly what you need in terms of nutrition. This means you’ll get rid of processed ingredients, a lot of cereals, and dairy products.
Both the paleo diet and yoga are about going back to our roots and living as well as we possibly can. Yoga is, therefore, compatible with this type of diet because it’s about making life simpler and more fulfilling.
As you can see, yoga can work with plenty of different diets even though there isn’t a single “yoga diet”. It will really depend on the person, their personality, their desires, their religion, their mood, etc. Whether you choose not to eat fish, only eat raw and organic ingredients, or like a caveman, there are plenty of ways you can get your body and mind to coexist peacefully through food.
After all, yoga is all about bringing the mind, body, and spirit into a state of harmonious coexistence. Remember that food is a driving factor behind our mental and physical wellbeing.
So are you ready to change your life?
While you may do an asana or two in your yoga classes near me, a good posture isn't just the only way to enjoy the benefits of yoga. Whether you do hatha yoga, vinyasa yoga, Iyengar yoga, Ashtanga yoga, kundalini yoga, or power yoga, you can always ask your yoga teachers about what they eat and some of their favourite meals.
While each yoga teacher or instructor will probably have different foods that they like to eat, it'll help you get a deeper understanding of how your body, mind, and spirit If you do yoga, don't show up to a yoga class having eaten a load of junk food, carefully plan what you eat before and after yoga.
It's incredibly difficult to work on your pranayama, alignment, and do yoga postures if you're feeling bloated or full of food. While you probably think about yoga and meditation together, you probably don't think so much about yoga and cooking or meditation and cooking.
The act of cooking and eating works with the yoga philosophy because it's incredibly holistic. In fact, rather than do a sun salutation, you can gain a deeper understanding of your world by focusing on the restorative properties of the food you eat, how you prepare it, and taking the time to focus on it as you eat.
Even a beginner can relax and eat their food in a calm and peaceful environment (you don't need to be sitting on your yoga mat while you do!), pay attention to how you breathe, enjoy the vitality that your food can bring you, and experience every aspect of your food!