Yoga is a practice that influences both our body and mind and brings us in a state of harmony and balance. Ayurveda is an ancient Indian healing practice that helps us nurture the body so that it can support us in our worldly life as well as our yogic pursuits. Nutrition is the very foundation on which life itself is based as that’s the source of our energy. Ayurveda helps us understand how to incorporate the right nutrition and yoga helps us convert that nutrition into greater energy and vitality. In other words, Ayurveda tells us what to eat and Yoga takes that fuel and uses it for healing and physical as well as spiritual growth. Naturally, the type of fuel or nutrition matters, as what we eat influences the experience of life.
Here are a few guidelines from Yoga and Ayurveda to help you maximise your nutrition and health:
Practice Mitahara: Mitahara means moderation in eating. A yogi’s food should be fresh, pleasant tasting and agreeable. Eating things that do not appeal to you should not be eaten under force. This creates an unnecessary imbalance in the mind and may even go against your body’s intuitive intelligence.
Never eat to your full capacity: Hatha Yoga Pradipika, a medieval text on Hatha Yoga, even states that a yogi should not eat to full capacity. Instead, a quarter of the stomach should be left empty. This protects the digestive system from becoming overloaded which can make us sluggish and low on energy.
Consume food with gratitude: Food should be consumed with the purpose to maintain the body and not gratification. It should instead be consumed as an offering to God. This helps counter emotional eating when we consume food not due to hunger but because of stress or anxiety.
Eat as per your Ayurvedic constitution: All of us are unique in our physical and emotional temperament therefore no one diet is good for everyone. Our dietary requirements change based on our age, physical activity levels, profession, health condition and even the seasons. Therefore, a constantly evolving diet that adjusts to you and your environment is what’s required. An Ayurvedic doctor or a consultant can help you understand what would be the best diet for your unique disposition. Alternatively having a consistent yoga practice which includes asanas, pranayama and meditation will help you develop intuition and self-awareness. Over time, you will naturally find yourself developing eating habits and a lifestyle that is conducive to your wellbeing.
Match your diet to your expectations: You are what you eat, so if you want to run a marathon or develop a muscular body, then following a sattvic yogic diet will not be helpful. A sattvic diet is very light and easy to digest, it is neither too stimulating, nor too heavy. It is very effective in keeping the mind clear, the body light and is recommended for serious meditators. If your profession requires heavy labour or physical exertion, then the diet should aid in recovery with sufficient protein, healthy fats and complex carbs.
Perform Yoga: Majority of us today live highly stressful and busy lives with minimal physical exertion but maximum mental stress. The two vices that are responsible for most of our modernday lifestyle are sedentary lifestyle and tension. And simply focussing on nutrition or eating the right foods will not be enough in bringing about a complete transformation in our health. We must incorporate movement such as asanas and breathing exercises such as pranayama to regularly recharge the body and mind.
Nutrition is the foundation of life itself, Ayurveda helps us identify how to incorporate the right eating habits for our unique personalities. And Yoga then helps us channel our energy more effectively. Coming together of Nutrition, Ayurveda and Yoga helps to build a healthy and happy life.
The writer is a yoga and Ayurveda lifestyle specialist & founder at Yoganama.