YOGA DIET & LIFESTYLE
Yoga is a process of self-discovery and linking up to our eternal source. As we understand more and more who we are — that we are not the body but rather eternal spiritual beings just temporarily in the body — we can actually experience the body as a precious vehicle to treat well and carefully while we are in this world so that it can function well and allow us to use it with minimal distraction from physical illness and breakdown. This is the purpose of the Yoga Diet & Lifestyle.
The Yoga Diet consists of whole, fresh plant foods and herbs with a moderate amount of milk products if desired (butter, ghee, milk, cream, cheese, and so on). The purpose of the Yoga Diet is to nourish and heal the body while bringing our consciousness more and more into the mode of goodness. From there we can make real spiritual progress.
The Yoga Diet also minimizes the suffering we inflict on other living beings and the impact we have on the planet and the environment, bringing about a more peaceful world for everyone. Yoga Lifestyle practices promote health for the body, bring more clarity for the mind, and make our lives more conducive for spiritual advancement.
1) Drink water! For most people, about 8-10 glasses a day is a minimum (or ½ ounce per pound of body weight). More in hot weather and with exercise. The body is made up mostly of water (nearly 75%), and just by breathing alone we excrete nearly two quarts a day – what to speak of perspiration and urination. Here is a site with some good information about water and health: www.watercure.com
2) Eat a wide variety of plant foods that are as close as possible to how they are in nature. Include fresh vegetables and fruits, legumes (beans, lentils, peas), whole grains, and raw seeds and nuts. Avoid refined and processed foods as well as chemical additives, preservatives, artificial coloring, refined sweeteners, etc.
3) Some daily dietary goals:*
a) Half of what you eat should be vegetables of all kinds: leaves (like lettuce, kale, parsley, etc.); “flowers” (like broccoli, cauliflower, etc.); “fruits” (like peppers, squash, tomatoes, etc.); roots (like carrots, beets, yams, etc.); stems (like celery, asparagus, etc.). Most of the nutrients our bodies need come from vegetables.
b) Half of those vegetables should be leafy greens (such as lettuce, salad mix, kale, collards, chard, and so on). Chlorophyll, which is what makes plants green, is one of the most nutrient dense substances we know; the chlorophyll molecule is almost identical to the human blood molecule and is therefore easily absorbed by the body.
c) The other half of what you eat should be made up of legumes (beans, lentils, and peas), whole grains, fresh fruits, seeds and nuts, and, if desired, some milk products.
*If you have any specific concerns about nutrition or need guidance in meal planning and preparation, please contact us.
4) Exercise regularly. Aerobic exercise should be done at least 3 or 4 times a week. This can be walking, jogging, biking, dancing, swimming – whatever you enjoy so that you’ll do it regularly. It should also be an activity suited to your body so that you do not incur injury. Balance this with strengthen training, stretching, and relaxation. Yoga exercise includes all of these and is a good compliment to other forms of exercise.
5) Practice good personal hygiene. This includes bathing at least once a day; cleansing the facial openings every morning (eyes, nose, mouth, ears); flossing and brushing your teeth every day; and washing your hands often. Also avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes when your hands are not clean – this is one of the main ways we ingest pathogens. Be conscious that doorknobs, gas pumps, money, pay phones, shared pens, shared computer keyboards and mice, and other things that many people touch can be covered with viruses, bacteria, feces, and other really gross things!
6) Get enough sleep. The body repairs itself while you sleep, and adequate sleep is very important for proper immune system function. Don’t think you’re just lying there doing nothing! There’s a lot going on in the body when we rest which we cannot bring about in any other way.
7) Set aside time every day for Yoga Meditation and spiritual study. This is ultimately the main purpose of our lives – to cultivate spiritual knowledge and uncover our eternal identity. This is the goal of Yoga.
8) Avoid intoxication. Intoxication covers the consciousness and puts us into the mode of ignorance, making spiritual advancement impossible.
9) Avoid stimulants. This would include tobacco, amphetamines, excessive use of caffeine, and so on. These are agitating to the senses and the mind and make it very difficult to control the mind and make spiritual progress.
10) Avoid unnecessary risk-taking. This includes gambling with money and other assets (either at a casino or with risky investments) as well as taking unnecessary risks with your life or others’ lives, such as driving too fast, not wearing a seatbelt, or doing dangerous things for no reason other than the thrill of it. This kind of action puts the mind in anxiety and goes directly against what we are trying to achieve through meditation, which is to control and focus the mind.
11) Avoid eating meat, fish, and eggs. These foods are dead and decaying by their very nature and therefore bring the consciousness into the mode of ignorance, impeding spiritual progress. These foods are toxic to the body since they contain the biological toxins of the animals that are slaughtered, and they are prone to other pathogens too, such as e coli, listeria, and a range of other bacteria. Animals experience great fear prior to being killed, and those fear hormones are also present in the meat. Yoga Philosophy teaches us that there are seven stages to animal slaughter – killing, butchering, selling, buying, cooking, serving, and eating – and anyone involved in any of these stages is equally responsible for the suffering of the animal. “As we sow, so shall we reap” is the law of karmic reaction. Karmic reaction is a burden to our spiritual development and hardens our hearts. So we are advised to cause as little suffering as possible, to help ourselves and others at the same time.
We hope these guidelines are helpful to you! Occasionally we give classes and lectures on the subject of Yoga Diet & Lifestyle. If you have questions about any of these guidelines or about starting a meditation practice, please don’t hesitate to contact us. You are also invited to our monthly vegetarian potluck dinners (the 3rd Sunday of the month). This is a great way to experience Yoga Diet firsthand and in person! You can also meet like-minded people and ask us any questions you might have. We hope to see you soon! Namaste.