We have all practiced yoga at some point or the other in our lives. Either by taking a yoga class, self-practicing yogic postures, or meditation, it’s highly likely you’ve tried some form of yoga at least once (maybe without even knowing it). For more serious practitioners who incorporate the philosophies of yoga into their daily lives, practice extends well beyond the physical asanas or postures. In the yogic lifestyle, food is equally important. What we eat influences our physical body as well as our mind, emotions, and thoughts. Eating in accordance with Ayurvedic principles keeps the body nourished and the mind clear.
According to Ayurveda, food is classified into three essential types – sattva, rajas, and tamas. Sattvic foods are whole, raw, fresh foods like fruit and vegetables, that purify the mind and body. Rajasic foods are those high on spice and caffeine. They aid in activity and stimulate the mind. However, an excess of rajasic foods causes restlessness and hyperactivity. The food we should avoid is tamasic food. These are foods that you make feel lethargic, tired, and disoriented – think excess refined sugar, fatty and oily food, excessively processed food – meals that give you a slump afterwards.
Though we might not be yogis, we can all definitely benefit by incorporating more sattvic foods into our daily diet. This International Yoga Day, here are some yogic foods that are great for your mind and body, and will help you feel good from the inside out!
1. Seasonal Fruits
When you eat fruits that are in season, they are less likely to be grown using artificial methods of farming, which means they have higher nutritive value. Which means, don’t be afraid of mangoes during the summer!
Though you might have heard that ghee is ‘fatty’, it in fact aids digestion! Because of it’s high absorption rate, it helps your body absorb the nutrients present in other foods. It also lowers the glycemic index of whatever food you eat it with, preventing your blood sugar from spiking.
According to Ayurveda, dairy products are great for us. They are an excellent source of calcium and probiotics. The best time to eat dairy products is in the afternoon when the digestive system works the best.
Dates are an excellent source of energy, and provide a host of vitamin and mineral benefits too. They’re naturally sweet and will satisfy any sweet craving! Eat one or two dates on their own, or make these Date & Orange Zest Energy Bites.
Lemons help stimulate digestion, and are a great source of Vitamin C and Potassium. A glass of warm water with the juice of one lemon daily will really help flush out toxins from your body!
6. Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables rank high on most yogi’s lists of preferred foods. Scour your local vegetable markets for indigenous greens, as they are largely underrepresented and give ample room for experimentation!
Pomegranates are full of antioxidants, keeping the digestive system healthy. Considered a tonic for the heart, rich in iron, and lowers cholesterol – this is a fruit with innumerable benefits!
Mung beans, split peas, bean sprouts, lentils – they are all sattvic legumes when prepared well. They are an excellent source of protein for vegetarians, and the common Ayurvedic belief is that the smaller the legume – the easier it will be to digest!
Though overly spicy foods that heighten the taste buds are not considered sattvic, there are some mild spices like cardamom, coriander, cumin, fresh ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon that have a host of uses in yogic food preparation. Add more of these spices to your diet, and reduce the others!
This one needs no explanation! Water is universally good for your body. Make it a habit to drink more water by keeping a bottle near you, download an app that reminds you to hydrate every few hours, and drink water infused with fruits and herbs for a refreshing change.
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