The three main requirements of the human body are the food, cloth and house. Out of which the first and foremost is food. Humans also show the intense efforts of this food every day. The person’s maximum effort is for his survival and the main role is to feed life. Our health, age, and well being is based on the quality of food. Hence it is essential that we understand the importance and utility of food. What is life ?like breathing and breathing? No. In Sanskrit texts, the well-being of body, mind and soul is considered to be life, and food is an important means of achieving this blissfulness. Today, we consider food as a substance for providing energy and nourishment to the body and we only gives importance to that form, but in Sanskrit texts, Apart from nourishment, other forms are also seen and its interpretation is found on philosophical basis. Anna,bhojan and aahaar are generally synonymous for the word food in Sanskrit texts.
Hatha Yoga suggests that our food should be fresh, light and pleasant to eat. We should avoid overeating at all costs and here’s a simple routine you can follow to nourish your body justly: Consume solid food that would fill up only half of the stomach. One-quarter of the stomach should be for water.
But for beginners and householders, which most of us are, the concept of a yogic diet according to prominent yoga scriptures – The Gheranda Samhita and Hatha Pradipika – is explained below.
Concept of a Balanced Yogic Diet in Hatha Pradipika
Verse 57, Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Translation: “One who is brahmachari, takes moderate and pure food, is regular and intent on yoga and renounces (attachment to sensual experience) becomes perfected (siddha) after a year” .
In the context of this verse, a Bhramachari is someone whose consciousness is absorbed in Brahman. It might not necessarily point to someone strictly abstaining from sexual activity but instead going a deeper level and renouncing attachment to them.
It is said that such a person (a yogi basically, who is absorbed in the quest for the highest knowledge) should take food in moderate quantities and sweet (mithara) in nature.
Verse 58, Hatha Yoga Pradipika
Translation: “A moderate diet means eating satisfying, sweet food for Shiva’s pleasure, while leaving the stomach one-quarter empty” .
Lord Krishna says; The foods that promote longevity, virtue, strength, health, happiness, and joy are juicy, smooth, substantial, and nutritious. Persons in the mode of goodness like such foods. (Bhagavad Gita 17:8)
Food that enhances longevity, mind, strength, health, happiness and joy, that which is juicy, oily, stable and pleasant, is dear to one who is saatvic.
Bhagavad Gita says about Rājasic food as People in the mode of passion like foods that are very bitter, sour, salty, hot, pungent, dry, and burning, and cause pain, grief, and disease.(Bhagavad Gita 17:9)
Food that is bitter, sour, salty, excessively hot, pungent, dry and burning, are dear to the raajasic person, causing pain, sorrow and disease.
Bhagavad Gita says about Tamasic food as People in the mode of ignorance like foods that are stale, tasteless, putrid, rotten, refuses, and impure (such as meat and alcohol).(Bhagavad Gita 17:10)
Art of Consuming Food
We should take food unless until we feel hungry or else it won’t digest properly. Before taking food one should assume a comfortable sitting position on an asana or mat. Offer the food to God with bhojan mantra and start eating. During schedule hour of meal, maintain silence or mouna. Mastication or the act of chewing food should be properly done so that the food bolus would be broken down into small particles. It is said that forty times should chew in one bite. During that period the intake food will automatically convert into liquid form. It may take little more time to finish the meal but it will digest properly. On the other hand, when the mind is calm the predominance of parasympathetic division of autonomic division becomes more active to secret the digestive enzymes for better digestion. Avoid to drink water in between the meal. After meal practice vajrasana a yogic posture which can help you for better digestion. Running, walking immidietly after meal is harmful to the body because the distribution of blood flow to the heart is not sufficient and heart has to pump more and more blood as it required. This results the ischemic heart disease or commonly known as (IHD). Minimum after forty minutes to one hour water intake is advisable but sip the water without drinking a glass of water at the same time. Luke warm water is more helpful than cold water which dilate the blood vessel and flow rate increases which results enhancement of body metabolism, along with assimilation and absorption followed by excretion.
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