Dr Ishwar V. Basavaraddi
Yoga is not just about poses (asanas), a Yogic way of life is all about a balanced Lifestyle
One of the main components of better health is the food we consume and the nutrition our body absorbs from it. Merely exercising or performing Yogasanas does not ensure a healthy lifestyle. An individual needs to mind what goes inside since health comes from within before it is visible from the outside.
The Yogic Concept of Ahara emphasizes “Mitāhāra” wherein Mita means controlled or balanced and Ahara means receiving from all directions. The three main factors that every individual, especially Yoga practitioners, should keep in mind while creating a balanced diet are;
- Quality of Food
Yoga stresses on the quality of food that one chooses to consume. A good diet is incomplete if the food consumed lacks in quality. Gita, the holy scripture, divides food as Sattvika (good for food that provides calmness and steadiness of mind), Rajasika (food that stimulates the mind but also causes imbalances between the mind-body equilibrium), and Tamasika (food that causes laziness and is not good for body and mind). According to Yoga and as recommended in Gita, one should ideally consume Sattvika quality as it benefits both mind and body.
- . Quantity of Food
Since the bodily constitution of every individual differs from one type to another, there is an estimate for the appropriate quantity of food that should be consumed. Ideally, half of the stomach should be filled with solid food, one-fourth of the stomach should be filled with water – taken 30 Minutes after a meal and last quarter should be kept empty for free movement of the air. By following this the body would not plunge itself into the state of laziness post-consumption of meals and would rather be better equipped at taking proper nourishment.
- The State of Mind
It is extremely important to keep a quiet, happy, and calm mental attitude while consuming any food. A good consciousness will help you enjoy the meal better at the same time gives a satisfying feeling no matter what has been consumed.
‘Susnigdha madhurahara caturthasha vivarjitaha
Bhujyate shiva samprityi mitaharaha a sa uchyate’
(Hatha yoga pradipika-1.58)
This quote from Hatha Yoga Pradipika talks about various aspects of what constitutes a good meal. Susnigdha means a nutritious, easily digestible food that is fit for all age groups and appropriate for people following varying work patterns. Madhurahara centres on the ‘sweetness’ of the food i.e it should be desirable to taste buds and lastly, Caturthansa Vivarjitah emphasis on leaving the one-fourth part to create a balanced meal.
The intake of meals at appropriate timings, that is, 8-12-4-8 can prove to be better for health and smooth digestion. Also, there should be a minimum of 4 hour time gap between each of our meals. The Yogic way of Ahara is meticulous and beneficial enough to bring a semblance of a healthier diet into our hectic lifestyles.