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is the only science that has laid great emphasis on food over centuries.
Yoga over centuries has developed a concept of a balanced whole foods diet and an eating philosophy, which is called Anna Yoga. These principles of good eating use powerful techniques, which help in maintaining a strong and healthy body, a stress-free mind and a positive attitude towards life. Never has this yogic philosophy of a balanced whole foods diet been felt more than today when 97% of all health disorders can be traced to a faulty nutrition and diet.
It has been observed that (East) Indian civilizations suffer least from bowel problems, constipation, indigestion and other food related disorders such as obesity because the Indian philosophy of cooking and eating draws heavily from the yogic philosophy of eating!
The key to true health is to have a balanced whole foods diet. A balanced diet ensures that all the faculties of digestion work smoothly - absorption, assimilation and elimination.
It is extremely important that all these three aspects work well together. If all these aspects work in harmony it is extremely unlikely that you'll suffer from health disorders and even obesity. Often "synthetic" or "processed" foods create conditions that disturb this balance leading to several physical and psychological problems.
What you eat extremely affects your mind. Improper diet results to mental inefficiency and blocks spiritual awareness. Proper Diet is one that nourishes both mind and body.
It should be well balanced and based on natural foods. Proper Diet in Yoga also means eating in moderation and eating only when you are hungry. We sometimes tend to eat when we are upset, using food to fill the gap or the emptiness that we feel. Bad eating habits will cause our senses to be dull that we won't even notice how much we eat or how it tastes and may result to diet related ailments like obesity and diabetes.
Food should sustain our body. It should keep the body light and supple, the mind calm, and it should also help in keeping a strong immune system.
Besides being responsible for building our physical body, the foods we eat profoundly affect our mind. For maximum body-mind efficiency and complete spiritual awareness, Yoga advocates a lacto-vegetarian diet. This is an integral part of the Yogic lifestyle.
The yogic diet is a vegetarian one, consisting of pure, simple, natural foods that are easily digested and promote health. Simple meals aid the digestion and assimilation of foods. Nutritional requirements fall under five categories: protein, carbohydrates, minerals, fats and vitamins. One should have certain knowledge of dietetics in order to balance the diet. Eating foods first-hand from nature, grown in fertile soil (preferably organic, free from chemicals and pesticides) will help ensure a better supply of these nutritional needs. Processing, refining and overcooking destroy much food value.
There is a cycle in nature known as the "food cycle" or "food chain". The Sun is the source of energy for all life on our planet; it nourishes the plants, 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 "second-hand" source of nutrition, and is inferior in nature. All natural foods (fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and grains) have, in varying quantities, different proportions of these essential nutrients. As source of protein, the body easily assimilates these. However, second-hand sources are often more difficult to digest and are of less value to the body's metabolism.
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 Prana, the vital life energy. So the greatest nutritional plan for the Yoga student is the simple diet of natural fresh foods.
However, the true Yogic diet is actually even more selective. The Yogi is concerned with the subtle effect that food has on his mind and astral body. He therefore avoids food, which is overly stimulating, which render the mind calm and the intellect sharp. One who seriously takes to the path of Yoga would avoid meats, fish, eggs, onion, garlic, coffee, tea (except herbal), alcohol and drugs.
Any change in diet should be made gradually. One should start by substituting larger portions of vegetables, grains, seeds and nuts until finally all flesh products have been completely eliminated from the diet.
The Yogic diet will help you attain a high standard of health, keen intellect and serenity of mind.
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