Yoga, Ayurveda and Whole-Foods

21 October 2013

Both yoga and Ayurveda (the Indian Science of Healing) were inspired and developed by the great sages of ancient India, well over 5000 years ago. They were also both created to keep the body and mind strong, allowing students and practitioners to focus on what they considered their most important function, that of discovering the true Self and finding their true purpose in life. Although both these sciences are very old, neither one can be called “primitive.” Their advice is founded mostly on common sense, and has much to teach us about finding harmony and balance in the busy world we live in today.

Yoga happens to be the only science that has placed great emphasis on food, and it has done so for many centuries. There is actually a whole branch of yoga (called “Anna Yoga”) that is devoted to eating those foods that promote health and happiness.

Over these many centuries yoga has continued to develop a concept of a balanced whole-foods diet and an eating philosophy that stays current with changing times. These well established principles of good eating apply powerful techniques which are meant to help in creating and maintaining a strong, healthy body, a stress-free mind and a positive spirituality while living in this crazy, mixed-up world.

Never before has this yogic philosophy of a balanced whole-foods diet been more befitting than today when over 96% of all chronic illnesses and other health disorders can be traced directly to a diet insufficient in nutrition. Studies have shown that Indian civilizations (in the East) suffer less than Westerners from bowel problems, constipation, and indigestion plus a host of other food related disorders such as obesity. And the reason is because the Indian philosophy of cooking and eating draws heavily from the Ayurvedic and yogic philosophy of eating!

Ideally we should choose foods that are:

·         Whole-foods in their most simple form possible,

·         In season and as close to their source as possible,

·         Unprocessed, chemical and additive free,

·         In bulk and not pre-packaged.

Shopping for foods that we know are fresh and unprocessed is easier if we take as much of a hands-on approach in this process as possible.  It’s always preferable to buy from farm stands and farmer’s markets, where we can meet the people that have grown the produce, which is often picked or harvested that same day.

Eating those foods that are both balancing and energizing will greatly aid and support us on the path of practice we have chosen to undertake.  The very best diet for yoga students and practitioners is based on whole-foods, which generally means simple, unadulterated and unprocessed foods.  Yogic cooking does not break-down foods into vitamins, minerals, protein, but rather demonstrates that the true benefits of whole-food ingredients can be had only when they are NOT isolated but are kept as true to their natural form as possible. Thus the key to optimal health and well-being is to have a balanced diet, one that ensures that all the faculties of the digestion process (absorption, assimilation and elimination) work efficiently and effectively.

It’s extremely important for us to realize that all 3 of these aspects (absorption, assimilation and elimination) work very well together, for when they work in harmony it’s very unlikely that we’ll suffer from chronic illnesses and all the many other health disorders (including obesity) that are epidemic in modern society today. “Synthetic” and/or “processed” foods (refined sugars, saturated fats/partially hydrogenated oils, fast foods, etc.) create conditions that disrupt this delicate balance, inevitably leading to numerous physical and psychological problems. Over time, the consequences can be dangerous and/or debilitating.

By being more discriminating and remaining consciously aware of how we feel in regard to the dietary choices we make, we’ll find those choices will start to become extremely supportive in our quest for optimal health, wellness and also a boon to our happiness.

Of related interest, click on the following…

Principles of Health and Natural Healing

The Advantages of a Plant-Based Diet (Pt. 1)

The Advantages of a Plant-Based Diet (Pt. 2)

The Advantages of a Plant-Based Diet (Pt. 3)

*Rae Indigo is ERYT500


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