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Yoga Instructor Training - The Yoga Diet And Its Focus On Nutrition

Paul M. Jerard Jr.
May 31, 2008
Anyone can practice yoga and not eat a specific diet. Yet, devoted yogis have paid close attention to their diet, as a part of yoga practice, for centuries. For the whole health benefit of yoga, one must pay close attention to nutrition.

Discussions about yoga, and yoga benefits, are mostly centered on the movements of the practice. The focus on holistic nutrition is often swept aside. Yet, this is an essential element of whole body health. In a society where pre-packaged foods are easier to find than fresh vegetables and fruit, no wonder we have the health problems we do.

Paying attention to what you put into your body helps you listen to your body as well. The foods that are encouraged in yoga nutrition are whole foods, mainly of lacto-vegetarian origin. Whole foods are those that are as close to their natural state as possible. No alterations or pre-processing has been done to them.

Basically, they are the simplest, most natural form, of the food available. Whole foods should be eaten close to their original source, and in season, when possible. Buy foods in their natural form, not packaged. Know the source of your food, and make sure it is as chemical and additive-free as possible.

These processed, packaged, and "spoiled," are classified in the yoga diet as tamasic. Foods that contain excessive spices, or salt, are also classified as tamasic. These foods cause lethargy, laziness, and an intolerant temper. Sound familiar?

Have you ever felt this way after eating a meal high in salt and preservatives? You did so for good reason. These foods do not support the body's functions or the mind's balance. They do the exact opposite. Reason becomes foggy and emotions grow dark. Eating too much, which is nearly encouraged in our society, is also classified as tamasic. Isn't your well-being reason enough to look at a different way of eating?

Yoga, and Ayurveda, classifies food into three categories: Rajasic, Satvic, and Tamasic. Let's discuss two of those three categories.

Rajasic foods are stimulating and provide energy. Too much of these foods, which are sometimes high fat, can cause restlessness and weight gain. However, in moderation, they can be used in the yogic diet to perform their purpose. Foods in this category are sour or pungent foods, like onions, garlic, curry, meat, and beverages, such as coffee and teas.

The foods to focus, on including in your diet, are sattvic foods. These are the purest foods that promote health and provide an even energy. Honey, fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, lentils, yogurt and other dairy, make up much of these foods.

Rice and grains are also in this category, providing fiber and assisting digestion. Little, to no preparation, is done to the foods before consumption. In this way, nutrition goes undisturbed with foods which are served raw or lightly cooked. These foods provide the highest degree of benefits and nourish the body. Sattvic foods keep the body balanced and are the most thoroughly absorbed and incorporated.

Impure, highly processed, and synthetic foods, not only isolate the nourishing benefits of foods - they also cause imbalanced conditions. These conditions cause discomfort, obesity, and disease. Most diseases are linked to diet in a major way. Seek to create balance in your body through your diet.

Any change in diet is difficult because it is a lifestyle change. Lifestyle changes are the only way to see long-term benefits. This is why fad diets are so terrible for the body. The more widely the pendulum swings, the less equilibrium you will experience.

Ancient yogis very much understood this and sought to balance their body, mind, and spirit, in all ways. While you will find great improvement through regular yoga practice, without intentional eating, it will be limited. Make the effort to create a new life balance for yourself through the yoga diet.

Copyright 2008 - Paul Jerard / Aura Publications
About the Author
Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, is a co-owner and the director of Yoga teacher training at: Aura Wellness Center in, Attleboro, MA. He is an author of many books on the subject of Yoga and has been a certified Master Yoga teacher since 1995.

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